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7th May: Don't be Dumb

Do not be afraid of anyone. But have reverence for Christ in your hearts, and honour him as Lord. Be ready at all times to answer anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you, but do it with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:14-16 (GNB)

Many have had the embarrassment of suffering at the hands of a 'hot-gospeller' -- the type who is not simply ready to speak if necessary, but ready with inappropriate zeal to pounce whenever there is a chance to intrude with a pat verse or trite challenge. However, such belong to a disappearing species.

We have, rather, become decorous and dumb. Christians are a minority in medicine. Christianity has unpopular things to say: the Bible teaches that all are lost apart from Christ, and the 'all' includes our colleagues and patients. The Bible emphasises sin as a reality, which explains not only our lostness but much of our suffering. It points to our hope of salvation which is Jesus Christ. These truths, though some of them may be unpalatable, should always be in our minds. Otherwise we cannot 'always be ready'.

The readiness required is not that of being quick to blurt out, but to answer, and an answer is a reply to a question asked -- 'what is the secret?'...'what makes him tick?'. We should be the sort of people who prompt this type of bewildered query. Martyn Lloyd-Jones points out that a Christian should be an enigma to the unbeliever (Studies in the Sermon on the Mount). When we do reply to the question, we are to do so with 'gentleness and respect'.

Are we ever asked? and anyway, what is the reason for the hope that is in us? Have we really thought? Find out some answers from the suggested further reading.

Go forth and tell! Men still in darkness lie;
In wealth or want, in sin they live and die.
Give us, O Lord, concern of heart and mind,
A love like thine that cares for all mankind.
Go forth and tell! The doors are open wide;
Share God's good gifts with man so long denied.
Live out your life as Christ, your Lord shall choose,
Your ransomed powers for his sole glory use.

J E Seddon

Further reading: 1 Pet 1:3-9. Rom 8:28-30. Col 1:27.


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