An Ohio judge recently angered state andnational defense lawyers after he had a public defender arrested for being unprepared for trial. The Portage County Judge had assistant public defender Brian Jones arrested for contempt of court after Jones refused to begin a misdemeanor assault trial because he said he was unprepared. Jones had only been assigned to the case one day earlier, but the judge still thought it was the defenders job was to be prepared. I don't know enough about the courtroom to know if he was right, but it made me think about the case that I am supposed to be ready to defend.
In 1st Peter 3:15, we read, “but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;”. I may not be a defense attorney but that doesn't mean I don't need to be ready to make a defense for my faith.
Every Christian must be ready to give that account. Being prepared means a number of things. It means we must know what we believe. Any case that rests facts we are unsure about will be one that falls apart quickly. Do we study and learn so we can give that defense? If Jesus truly means something to us, then we will put the time and effort to know what he teaches and what we believe.
Being prepared also means that we know the facts of the case but also how we need to present them as well. If we can't present the case for Christ in a way that shows Christ in our case, no one will listen to us no matter how right we may be. Our defense must be done in the right way, with gentleness and reverence. Any attorney will tells you convincing a jury is as much as what you say as it is how you say it. Don’t think you can be giving a proper defense for Christ if everyone that hears you leaves in disgust! Christ came to save sinners not just make them realize they were sinners (John 3:17-18). Our defense must do the same as well.
I would hate to walk into a courtroom with a defender that barely knew my name or any facts about my case and was going to anger any person he talked to. If we don't prepare ourselves, than we won’t be much better defenders for Christ.
The trial isn't going to be a formal one in a courtroom. It will be one that takes place in our everyday world. It’s when our neighbors ask why we go that church, when our friends are curious about our religious practices. It will be when we make a distinction in our lives, and that gets others asking, “Why is he that way?” That will be when the case is presented. If we find ourselves unprepared, our judge will not be pleased with us either!