The other day I was driving on the freeway and I saw a license plate frame that said this:
“Don’t believe? You’d better hope you’re right.”
From the other bumper stickers emblazoned on the vehicle I knew the frame meant belief in Jesus Christ. And not just belief in him as a historical figure, but as the Son of God and one true way to eternal life.
I was taken aback by the license plate frame because it seemed a little antagonistic, like a bully demanding lunch money. Instead of inviting someone to believe in Jesus Christ, the license plate seemed content for people to remain in their disbelief. Instead of open and accepting arms, the license plate framed seemed to shut people out and allow them to see the ultimate folly of their unbelief.
If I didn’t believe in Jesus and saw that license plate frame, I wouldn’t be any more compelled to pursue Jesus than I had been before. In fact, because of its adversarial nature, that license plate frame might push me further from Jesus. I would see that frame and think that his followers didn’t care much about me.
Telling unbelievers that they’d better hope they’re right isn’t the best use of hope. Hope is powerful and, as 1 Peter says, we should live our lives in such a way that people would ask us about the hope we have inside. We shouldn’t mockingly tell people, “You’d better hope you’re right.” We should live lives that declare the hope we have in Christ and invite unbelievers to experience that hope.
Christians, especially apologists, love quoting 1 Peter 3:15. It says that Christians should always be ready with an answer. I think it’s great to have thought-out, logical arguments that support the Christian faith. But in the scenario depicted in 1 Peter 3:15, people aren’t just coming out of the blue asking questions about faith. The passage says that people will ask us questions about the hope we have. So before anyone asks us a question about our hope, we need to be living in such a way that our hope is abundantly evident.
It’s important to be ready to give an answer but it’s more important to live a life of hope that makes people want to ask a question.
And if that was your license plate frame, I’m sorry, but you should take it off.
How do you live out the hope you have in Christ?