As the sun began to set, hundreds of people started to arrive. People from across the state had come to central Oklahoma for a special event: a concert. This was not your ordinary university recital. Rather, these people had gathered at Armstrong Auditorium to witness the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields perform two marvelous Bach piano concertos with pianist Jeremy Denk, plus a beautiful Stravinsky suite.
Right before the concert, I decided that it would be best if I went and talked with a few people. It just so happened that one of my good friends was in the lobby finalizing a CD purchase.
After chatting for a few minutes, something quite unexpected happened: a few quizzical ladies came up to us. One of them had dark hair, a flower-patterned scarf—and a question that I was not completely prepared for.
“Could you two please explain to us what the Philadelphia Church of God is?” the dark-haired woman inquired of us.
I was a little discombobulated by this question, but, for some reason, it behooved me to speak up and give a broken answer. I wanted to make sure that I answered it in a quick and clear manner. Then they would carry on with finding their seats, allowing my previous conversation to continue. But she wanted more than just a short and quick answer. We received even more questions such as, “Who was Herbert W. Armstrong?”, “Who is Gerald Flurry?”, etc. It seemed like the more questions she asked, the more specific they became.
As the questions started to touch on more specific matters, I wished one of the staff members would come and help answer these questions that I was obviously not all that prepared for. Thankfully, a Herbert W. Armstrong College student on the concert staff arrived, and he began to help answer the questions.
But should I have been more prepared? Why did these ladies not go to the staff members who had been trained to answer these questions? Why did they pick two teenage strangers? There was a possibility that these two teenagers knew absolutely nothing about the Philadelphia Church of God.
As teens in God’s church, you give off a light that no teen in the world has. People may wonder why you are so happy. This is why you must always be ready to answer any question about your beliefs, practices, or your Church.
But some may ask themselves, “Why me? Are there not other people who are much more qualified to do this?”
Sometimes, people will want to ask a child about their religion rather than ask an adult. Children, as they see it, are less prone to lie about their beliefs and practices. For example, my cello teacher did not begin to inquire of me about my religion until my mother dropped me off at lessons. Rather than going to your parents, people may want to ask you instead.
I still kick myself for not being as prepared as I could have been for those questions. I had ignored an important scripture: 1 Peter 3:15. It tells us to “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”
When people wonder why that one girl refuses to wear makeup, cut her hair short, get a ring piercing in any other place other than her earlobe, etc., she must be prepared to tell them why (if they ask, of course). When people ask that young man why his hair is short, why he does not wear effeminate clothing, etc., he must give them a quick but clear answer. When people ask us why we will not use profanity, date as teens, or break the Sabbath day, we must be ready to tell them why.
This world is filled with chaos, especially in this world’s youth. Teens in today’s world consider it cool to be a rebellious and foul individual. When people see a happy person with an obedient personality, they become curious.
We must make sure we are setting good examples. Even if we are doing our best to keep God’s laws, we should remember to dress well, look someone straight in the eye when speaking to them, and to radiate a friendly vibe. We must set a good example even in the midst of strangers—people have been known to unwittingly make strong judgments about someone within a tenth of a second after first seeing them.
Being ready to answer questions “with meekness and fear” does not mean that we go around trying to convert people. Rather, just answer people’s questions with only the amount of information they have requested. I like to think up a few scenarios in which I would need to answer someone’s questions and rehearse what I might have to say. We should pray about this too.
If you are not ready to give an answer, you could be missing a glorious God-given opportunity! I was not ready, and I still look back with regret. Thankfully, God has given me other opportunities to give an answer, and I know many more are coming. Now the real question is: Are you ready to give an answer?