"but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect."
- 1 Peter 3:15
As Danny Ocean, in the movie Ocean's Eleven, always remembered, we are always being watched. While this is certainly true in a Las Vegas casino, it is also true in the daily routines of ordinary life. Each one of us has friends, family, co-workers, classmates or neighbors that we intersect with on a routine basis. They interact with us in big and small ways and observe how we conduct ourselves. This verse tells us that as we are growing in understanding how loved and accepted we are in the gospel, there will be an observable difference to those who know us. Perhaps you are more patient because you know that, secure in the love of Christ, you are freed from having to be productive to prove your worth. Maybe you show kindness and generosity to those around you because you know you have been given far more than you deserve. These simple acts of consistent obedience speak loudly in a world that is self obsessed and display a beauty that is compelling. They stand out to those with eyes to see.
Once observed, it is natural for anyone to ask, "why?" At this moment, we can choose any one of a number of paths. Perhaps uncomfortable with the attention, we can deflect, minimize what they see, and move on. Or maybe, like the Pharisee's, we want the acclaim and use it to feel good about our obedience and standing with God. As natural as it can feel to respond in such a way, we are called to something else. This verse says that we need to be able to give the reason for that hope that we've displayed. This does not necessarily mean a full fledged gospel presentation, but it does mean being aware of what is going on in our heart on a deep level and a willingness to share it when asked. If, for instance, you are maintaining hope in the midst of suffering because you know your present sufferings are nothing compared to the glories to come, then you can say that from a place of authenticity - not a programmed presentation, but honest, humble communication in relationship. Whether we want to act like it or not, someone is watching. Lets be prepared.