I don't have any boys, but I've always loved the Boy Scout motto, "Be prepared." That motto reminds me of my favorite TV show of the late '80s and early '90s -- "MacGyver." There's a guy who was always prepared. If he had a Swiss Army knife, a wad of bubble gum and some duct tape, he could build a tank. God actually calls us to be the MacGyvers or the Boy Scouts of Christianity.
1 Peter 3:15-16 says, "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander." God calls us to be prepared to always stand up for Him and to share the good news of Jesus with others.
Not only are we to share our faith with others, but we are to do so in a manner that attracts rather than repels. Too many so-called Christians have missed the second half of this set of verses where it talks about sharing our faith with gentleness and respect. It's not our job to force people to accept Christ. It is our job to be prepared to share the reason for our hope whenever and where ever the topic arises. The most effective way to share your faith, though, is not in a Bible-beating manner but as a genuine expression of love for Christ.
It's not our job to condemn anyone. It's simply our job to be part of the dialogue. God is responsible for changing hearts. We are just to be open to being the tools that he uses to bring the good news of Christ. When we try to make ourselves responsible for the decisions and choices of others, we run the danger of sharing Christ in a manner that isn't coated in "gentleness and respect." Jesus didn't go around forcing people to follow Him, and that's not the attitude that we should take either.
As adults, it's often hard for us to share the gospel. We fear being rejected. We're afraid we'll say the wrong thing. We wonder what others will think of us. The same fears are true for your kids. I believe that the best way for your kids' friends to meet Jesus is through your example and through your child's example. Preparing our kids to enter into honest, respectful dialogue with their peers about what they believe, is preparing them for a world that would love to trounce on their belief.
The best way I know of to prepare our kids for that kind of dialogue is to engage in it at home. Ask your kids questions like:
- What would you say if someone asked you to tell them about Jesus?
- What answer would you give if someone told you the Bible was just a bunch of stories?
- What would you say if someone asked you what you believe?
- How should you answer if someone from a different faith asked you how the faiths are different?
Walk through these scenarios with your child. As they get older, the answers will grow. Emphasize that even though we disagree with what other religions teach, we are called to treat other with respect and gentleness. We can disagree with someone and still like them and be respectful of them.
Begin having these conversations with your kids, so that when they are asked to give a reason for their hope, they will be prepared.