The other day, I was manning a booth for our church at a local "Taste of..." event when a middle-aged guy came up and asked me, "How can I get rid of my sins?"
Right then, I suddenly realized I didn't like any of my answers to that question. I had officially lost my elevator speech. I fumbled and danced around the issue, partly because he was clearly baiting me.
He was obviously a Christian guy who, for whatever reason fancied himself the Chicagoland doctrine police, and I felt like he'd thrown down the gauntlet, and here I was, with no shield and sword to protect myself.
So he was baiting me, but also I realized most of the pat answers that were rattling around in the darkest recesses of my brain were pretty dusty, and were no longer resonating with me.
After this guy left, feeling like he'd trumped me with his question, I found myself wrestling with shame that sprang from my apparent inability to put Peter's command to "always be prepared" into action, but more importantly thinking, "Wait a minute. What was that supposed to accomplish?"
Was he supposed to be representing the seeker to me? If so, he failed. Honestly, what's the likelihood that any modern seeker would EVER ask that question? I'd say it's about zero.
After he was long gone (of course) I came up with the perfect response. I thought, "When he asked, 'How can I get rid of my sins?' why didn't I just do what Jesus would have done, and say "Why do you ask?"