Imagine being a politician and trying to hold in your head all the figures and arguments so that you are ready to answer any question that might be thrown at you. Not many of us could do that well.
But there is one question that Christians are told they must always be ready to answer. Peter tells us to get ready for this one: “Why do you have hope?” (1 Peter 3:15-16)
In English ‘hope’ often means a vague longing that things will work out OK in the end. But Peter’s word ‘hope’ in the original Greek is more focussed. It means something that is absolutely certain but just hasn’t happened yet, like the ‘sure and certain hope’ that is spoken about in a Christian funeral service.
Peter knew that when life in the 1st Century hit hard, people would be puzzled to see that the Christians still had hope. Struck down by serious illness, crushed by the cruelty of someone they trusted, hounded out of the synagogues by Jewish leaders or hounded to death by Roman rulers, Peter wanted them to be ready to explain why they still had a sure and certain hope.
And Christians ought to expect that people will ask the same question today. The more we are struck down by serious illness, crushed by the cruelty of someone we had trusted, grieved by violence and suffering in every corner of our world, saddened by chaotic politics, or hounded to abandon our Christian beliefs, the more we should expect people to wonder why we still have hope and to ask us why.
Peter tells us his answer: In this world we can never put the people and things that we love beyond the reach of death or decay but God has trounced death in Jesus who now holds all the levers of power in earth and heaven. Nothing can stop Jesus bringing in a new order where his triumph is shared with all those whose only hope is in him. We have “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade”. (1 Peter 1:3-4)
Perhaps you’ve been puzzled by an apparently indestructible hope in someone you know – go ahead and ask them, “Why?” See if they’re ready with their answer!