(Image courtesy of artur84 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
We were on vacation and sitting under the shade of a palm tree overlooking a breath-taking blue lagoon. “Are you seriously sitting there reading the Bible?” Yes. I am reading about how beautiful Queen Esther saves her people. I love this Bible event. (I try not to call them Bible “stories” because people sometimes confuse that word with “fable.”)
“You’re crazy. How do you even know there is a God?” Oh, Babe. Look around. Isn’t this gorgeous? We just spent the day swimming in the ocean with fantastic creatures – that huge whale shark that feeds on tiny plankton, the octopus that changes shape and color… How can water that is so, well fluid, have so much force in the form waves and current? Who thought of gravity? There is God. He is intelligent. He loves us and gives us awesome things. Can’t you see the possibility of it? “OK. You’re still crazy.” Yup. Always have been. I’m crazy for you too, you know.
Conversations like this present themselves from time to time. “Winning Him Without Words” teaches us that it is ineffective to preach at our pre-believing loved ones to the point we harass them. At the same time, we have to be prepared to lovingly explain our faith when given the opportunity.
Apologetics is the practice of presenting rational explanations for our faith in response to objections against Christianity.
1 Peter 3:15 “but honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. However, do this with gentleness and respect, keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are accused, those who denounce your Christian life will be put to shame.” Holman Christian Standard Bible
Inspired by this scripture, there are a few approaches I try to follow.
- I try to wait on an opportunity. A comment. A question. A TV show.
- I try to keep it short. I try to hold my comments to only the specific question or topic. There is no point in overwhelming our pre-believers.
- I monitor my tone. I don’t want to sound offended or overly defensive. Depending on the situation, calm and factual or outright happy may be the right tone. When speaking of God, we must speak with love in our hearts.
- I try to keep my audience’s perspective in mind. In the conversation above, if I told my husband how I feel God’s presence in my heart, he would have just rolled his eyes or had me locked up. Instead, I responded based on the undeniable majesty that surrounded us that day. I know that he was also moved by the beauty.
- I try to remember that each such conversation is a seed. I don’t have to keep talking until he totally agrees with me. I just have to plant the seed.
I’ve heard some objections to Christianity that seem especially strange to me. One that stands out was when a fellow at the gym said that he doesn’t believe that Jesus resurrected from the dead because in all of history no one before or since has been able to do that again. I agreed (I’m sure I looked startled.) That is what makes it so wondrous. No ordinary man could do that. Only Jesus could rise from the dead of his own power because he was God’s Son in human form.
I don’t claim to be an expert at apologetics. Rather it is an area that I am hungry to develop. Are you? Is this an area we can explore and grow in together, Sumites? What are some objections you have heard and how did you handle them? Do you have tips or best practices to share? Do you have questions for which you’d like input about how to handle?
Dear Lord, give us the right words to say when we have the opportunity to explain our faith. Let our actions and our words both bear witness of Your majesty. Prepare our hearts. Prepare our minds. And give us opportunities to share the Truth. Amen.