Posted by: Mike Willoughby | June 22, 2010

Be Prepared

On Sunday, we packed our youngest son, Jackson off to Camp Cherokee for his first year at Boy Scout camp.  This is an experience we’ve now repeated with each of our sons and the preparation has almost become a ritual.  Jackson was with our oldest son, Lyndon (who is an Eagle Scout) this weekend and even Lyndon got involved in the preparations as he gave little brother a list of helpful hints for surviving scout camp.  In addition to helping with the logistics of packing every conceivable item a kid might possibly need for a week at camp, we reviewed the basics with Jackson including the Scout Oath, the Scout Law and the Scout Motto.  You are likely familiar with the Scout Motto which is “Be Prepared.”  It’s a great motto for boy scouts and it’s a great motto for Christians from many different perspectives.

The Apostle Peter wrote in I Peter 3:15:

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…

The first thing I take away from this encouragement from Peter is that it presupposes that someone will ask me to explain the hope that I have.  Notice that Peter did not say I should be ready to explain the tag that I have, or the cross that I wear, or the bible on my desk.  Peter does not point to any external signs testifying to my faith.  He singles out something that can only be witnessed by observing how I behave.  Jesus put it this way in Matthew 5:14-16:

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

I must be acting in a way that calls attention to the fact that something is different about how I deal with the opportunities and challenges of life.  The good deeds that I do in addition to the way I respond to trials should cause people to question the source of my behavior.  If no one ever asks me why I’m different, I have to start asking myself, “why not?”  Simply having internal hope but never letting it out for the world to see is missing the point.  Christian hope cannot be contained – it must come flowing out of my everyday life.

The second thing I take away from this passage is that I should be ready with a simple explanation for the hope that I have.  Just like Jackson will have to explain the way boy scouts behave by quoting aspects of the Scout Law, I need to explain that my behavior is driven by my relationship with Jesus Christ.  I do good deeds because I love God and I love my neighbor.  I respond to challenges in life with patience and perseverance because of the long-term perspective I have of spending eternity in heaven.  I avoid the temptation to be a frustrated control freak because I know that I’m not in control but the master of the universe is in control and he is looking out for me.  I must be prepared to give an answer!

The last thing I take away from this thought is that I should be gentle and respectful with my answer.  This is not the time for lectures and brow-beating.  It’s funny how some folks who, with their gentle and respectful good behavior, have impressed someone enough to provoke that person to ask questions will then turn into a condescending lecturer.  That’s a good way to stop the questions!  This is an opportunity to give credit where credit is due for the transformation in my life that makes hope possible.  It’s not about me – it’s about my Lord and Savior.

This week, Jackson is learning how to pitch a tent, fix a blister on his toe, make a fire from a flint, tinder and magnesium shavings, turn his blue jeans into a floatation device while treading water in a pool and work as a team to maintain a campsite and build some cool structure to win a prize.  These skills and the others he will learn over the next 6-7 years in scouts will help him be prepared for many of life’s challenges.  However, it is the knowledge and experiences gained through church camp, VBS, bible school, participation in worship services, Leadership Training for Christ (LTC), youth group devotionals and discussion around our dinner table that have prepared him for the big spiritual challenges of life.  He is also prepared to tell you why he has hope within him.  So am I.

The reason for my hope is that I have been saved from my sins through my faith in Jesus Christ.  I can do everything through him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13).

Until next week,

Meet me at the intersection!


Responses

  1. print, cut, read everyday…live it. thanks for the reminder

  2. So as it turns out, last minutes sermons are not so inconvenient when you have great blog material to fall back on! 🙂

    • Yes, you have discovered my secret stash of sermon and lesson material. Well, maybe not so secret now! Thanks for sifting through the archives. I reread Be Pepared and the Jackson story made me smile again. Blessings to you and Brandon.


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