Reason to Hope
Jing Ye—Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Week after week, you tell your
friends, “No, I can’t go on Saturday. Remember? I have church…No, not Friday
night either! I also have church.”
Each time, your friends feel
more disappointed that you can’t spend time with them because of church and
they’ll ask, “Is church really that important to you? Why do you even want to
At times this is where many people,
including myself, get stuck. You can’t just respond by saying that your parents
make you go because your friends will say that religion should be your personal
decision. Instead, you have to respond with an answer reflecting your own
opinion on church and how much it really means to you.
Without a sincere heart that
willingly seeks to worship God, it’s hard to give a strong enough reply to
defend your beliefs.
THE LORD GOD IN YOUR HEARTS
In 1 Peter, a letter written to the
dispersed Hebrew Christians, the apostle Peter expressed his understanding of
the threats they received from nonbelievers. He told them not to be afraid, but
sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always
be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that
is in you. (1 Pet 3:15)
If we do not know for certain
the reason behind holding onto our beliefs, then, as Peter advised, “sanctify
the Lord God in your hearts.”
The first keyword in this
advice is “sanctify.” To sanctify is to purify, consecrate, dedicate, and
venerate. When used in the context of God sanctifying us, the definition fits.
However, in this verse where we are the ones sanctifying God, only
“dedicate” and “venerate” are suitable. God can purify and consecrate us, but
not the other way around, because God is holy.
Furthermore, we must dedicate
and venerate God in our hearts. As living beings, the heart is crucial because
it gives life. The Bible records the importance of the heart in Proverbs 27:15:
“As in water face reveals face, so a man’s heart reveals the man.”
We can see that the heart not
only sustains our physical life but also endows the core personality that makes
us who we are—all of our innermost thoughts, desires, and emotions.
We cannot truly understand a
person unless we know his heart, and neither can we live without a heart.
Hence, if the heart is essential to a human, sanctifying God in our hearts is
necessary to our lives.
As a whole, the phrase
“sanctify the Lord God in your hearts” implies that we should dedicate and
venerate God genuinely. To dedicate, we should focus our time, effort, and
thoughts less toward secular ways and more toward ways that are pleasing in
God’s eyes. To venerate, we must always keep in mind that our God is almighty
and worthy of worship.
This is not a one-time
occurrence but an ongoing process that requires determination and persistence.
When we have sustained our dedication to and veneration of God, then we will
have completely surrendered the most precious spot in our hearts as a dwelling
place for God.
Once this form of reverence for
our Lord God has been cultivated, we will clearly understand what our
motivation is in holding on to God’s promised hope of heaven and salvation.
Deep in our hearts, there will be a yearning to willingly offer all that we
have for God.
Even more, we will be convinced
that every drip of sweat, every teardrop, every minute, every word of praise,
and every good thing in this earth spent on glorifying God has served its
HOPE IN YOU
So, “Is church really that important to me? Do I really want to go? Why do I bother exerting so much effort to
serve God?” Until we learn to fully sanctify God in our hearts, we will not be
able to defend our beliefs with an honest heartfelt reply. Instead, we will
merely convey a message to nonbelievers that we Christians are not even certain
that keeping a holy life is needed to reach God’s heavenly kingdom.
With God sanctified in our hearts,
however, we will always be able to
answer any questions concerning our faith and hope in God because we can base
our defense on real experiences. The more we realize how much God means to us,
the stronger we’ll feel about living as a Christian.
This way of life is not simply a
religion anymore but becomes a relationship with God that is rooted in sincere
love. Our hope is to one day spend eternity with God. We are not just holding
onto this hope with one or two fingers but hanging on to it with our whole