This is the second in a three part series that uses 1 Peter 3:15 to answer the question, “HOW do I love my neighbor without being weird?” Follow on the blog, Instagram and Facebook.

What fills our heart will overflow.

The people living around us sincerely hope we’re filled with hope in God and not anger, hatred, or pride.

This is why we honor Christ as Lord FIRST and FOREMOST.

The time I spend reading my Bible, or praising God at the top of my lungs, or praying flat on my face—these are necessary moments to honor Jesus Christ in my once-hardened heart.

Our holy Lord is so worthy of glory that this command must come before all others. God is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in loving kindness. He is our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. He alone is worthy to receive all blessing and honor and glory! He is HOLY, HOLY, HOLY!

We can offer no explanation for something we have never experienced. If we haven’t honored holy Christ in our own hearts, we can go no further than our own front door.

How do you fill your heart with His holiness?

“Always being prepared” to love our neighbor doesn’t mean we have all the answers or fresh-baked cookies on the counter. But “always” does mean AT ALL TIMES, not only when we’re in the mood or when we have the time—always means we’re continually on the lookout for the opportunity to engage.

We stop to have a conversation.

We listen for clues about what’s really on her heart

We allow our heart to be broken for our community.

The Greek word Peter used for prepared is related to fitness. When I trained for a triathlon, do you know what was the hardest part? It wasn’t jumping in a cold swimming pool, biking up big hills, or running down long roads: it was simply putting on my shoes to leave the house.

Peter’s state of preparedness is like sleeping with your running shoes on, always ready to tun toward a neighbor.

Are you ready? Like, now.

Am I the only one who gets defensive about my faith? More than ever, Christian values are under attack, and my natural response is to defend and debate until I WIN the argument.

I can take that Sword of the Spirit and use it like a weapon to draw blood! Even Christians are afraid of me!

Let me tell you, there are no winners in this kind of war.

Here’s how to defend your faith: simply start in Genesis and explain the entire Bible all the way through to Revelation (don’t forget the minor prophets!), and sprinkle in a little church doctrine along the way. Easy peasy! Right?

The good news is, it really is easy to share the Good News. Peter’s word for “defense” means to make a reasoned statement.

Have you ever wounded someone while defending your faith? Or is it just me?

Your personal testimony is an interesting, intriguing, non-threatening, and relevant way to open a conversation about Christ. This is what Peter and John did

“We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:20 NLT

When you tell everything you have seen and heard, defending your faith becomes natural and practical. There’s nothing to memorize because you lived every excruciating detail! You were there, you know it best—and God will use your style and personality to tell your tale perfectly. How has the Good News about Jesus Christ affected your life? God will use your story as His megaphone to speak into someone else’s life.

Do you have a good God story to tell?

When Peter suggests that people will ASK us for the reason we have HOPE, it’s not the same as the neighbor who asks who did your new roof, who babysits your kids, or how you grow such pretty yellow roses.

This ASK is earnest and urgent: it means to beg, crave, desire, or require.

At my very first Open House, my neighbor Natalie stood in my home and candidly said to me, “I call myself a Christian, but I don’t really do anything religious. I own a Bible but I’ve never read it. For me to even open a Bible would be a big deal. I see people who have faith go through things like I’ve gone through—and even worse—but they seem to have a HOPE that I don’t have. I know I can get it, but I don’t know how. I don’t even know where to start.”

Well, she started in my living room.

If anyone ever asks you how you’ve stayed married and sane at the same time, or how you’ve held yourself together during the tragedy of the past year, or how you’ve managed to keep breathing let alone smiling after the loss they’ve witnessed from across the street—they’re more than curious. They’re begging for solutions. They crave peace. Chances are, they’re struggling to make sense of the pain, tragedy, and loss in their own homes.

(And if no one has asked? Well, you might need more proximity.)

The dictionary definition of HOPE is “an optimistic state of mind based on an expectation of positive outcomes with respect to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large.”

Double-tap if the world’s version of HOPE isn’t working out for you. Raise your hand if your dreams have NOT come true.

Expectations of all-good outcomes will always disappoint.

When real life crashes into our false hopes, we become battered, bruised, and bitter.

The Christian’s definition of HOPE is much so more than our feelings and emotions.

There’s a clue to HOPE right in this verse: the HOPE is IN US and Christ is IN US.

  • HOPE is the real person of Jesus Christ.
  • HOPE isn’t a wish, it’s a grounded reality based on the promises of God.
  • HOPE isn’t just happy outcomes, it’s having joy no matter what comes.
  • HOPE isn’t a longing, it’s a knowing.

When we set our hope fully on God’s faithfulness instead of life’s circumstances can we stop wavering between hopeless fears and hopeful fantasies.

How to love our neighbor is  about our attitude, not our tactics.

It’s less about strategy and more about sincerity.

The key to loving our neighbor isn’t vaccine or anti-vax, Black or White, left or right—it is humility and understanding, compassion and concern, esteem and honor.

Christianity doesn’t need to be argued or debated: it is gently, respectfully, magnificently described in living color as we sit side-by-side and share of our personal experience walking with Christ down the dusty, difficult road that finally led to hope.

This is the second in a three part series that uses 1 Peter 3:15 to answer the question, “HOW do I love my neighbor without being weird?” Follow on the blog, Instagram and Facebook.

"I want to love God and love my neighbor,
but I don't know how."

 

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