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, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.I've had discussions with friends about this passage and whilst it could be said that Peter is talking about telling people about Christ and being prepared to, but this passage is more commonly used in apologetics and I think it's a wonderful one which gives us quite a good basis for how to "apologize". I'm going to run through those points.
Firstly always be prepared. Our lives on earth have a peculiar knack at throwing curveballs at us, whilst I say this, I do realise it is God placing these curveballs in motion but anyway, this means that we shall regularly be met with something that surpasses our expectations. I suppose this ties in with the last blog in that we should have the courage to be bold and share the Gospel where ever we are or whatever situation we are in.
Secondly, to everyone. Peter isn't pulling any punches with the challenge he is setting out for us here. The gospel and any apologetics we do isn't for special people, it isn't for the smart, those closer to salvation than others. It is for everyone! We should be prepared to answer everyone, those looking for arguments, those seeking out God, those who we think will never ever become Christians and those who we think are so close. Peter wants us to be ready to talk to all of them and the rest of the world. I suppose it's only natural that we should always be prepared if we need to spread the message to everyone. Here though I'd like to point out it would be better to hit it off with the gospel and see where the conversation migrates to, one assumes with a number of the categories of people I mention it would be something apologetic-y.
Thirdly, do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience. Now personally I think this is the tricky one out of all the things Peter asks us to do. Essentially he is asking that we love the person who is trying to prove we are wrong or less extreme, just arguing against us. I, sadly, can't help but sometimes get frustrated and some people, especially when they ask the same question over and over again despite having gotten an answer. I can only say this, take a step back and breathe, it won't matter to the discussion if you slow down because the person you are discussing with won't just up and walk away. To be honest I find it easier to talk to people over the internet because neither of us are getting in the others face and so we can't cause a confrontational situation easily.
I'm hoping that all makes sense and I've unpacked the passage a little. The Gospel that we hold true, and the experience and knowledge we have that can be shared in apologetics is an amazing gift that we have been given. Knowing that and knowing how much we should be loving the world it should be natural for us to spreading it to everyone. I do however want to make this clear, everything I've written here is useless without prayer and God, on earth we can only go so far to getting a man to God's kingdom, it's God who will transform his heart and bring him in.