When I was in high school, theology was not something I addressed with people from different religious backgrounds. Thus, I hung out in the Mormon Church playing volleyball, went to a Methodist youth group and was a member of a Roman Catholic church. Unfortunately, this atmosphere changed as I entered college. Religious leaders often went out of their way exposing the flaws and shortcomings of each faith.
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. 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, 1 Peter 3:15.
This climate leads to one of three responses. Those who change their beliefs are either brain washed, deceived by false teachers or set free. This commonly held mindset ended several relationships I had with individuals from different faiths. On one occasion, I discovered I was placed on the do not talk to list by one cult, afraid I might convince members to leave this church. In a quest to prove whose God is true, division often ruins friendships.
Keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander, 1 Peter 3:16.
I’m assuming the context of the 2 passages above refer to a similar situation. Peter understood that when you are debating or discussing differences in religions that you must be respectful. Any type of arrogance, pride or smugness will offend those you are trying to convince to come over to your side of an issue. Perhaps, individuals should follow in the footsteps of God who offers free will, not forcing anyone to believe. Regardless of how passionate you may be, remember to talk to others who you disagree with gentleness and respect. This honors the Lord and helps others keep an open mind in the future.
by Jay Mankus