Typically, when I run across the same idea three times in a row, I recognize the need to stop and listen. Perhaps God is trying to get my attention. That happened this past week, starting with a book I’m reading by Gene Edward Veith, Jr. called, Loving God with All Your Mind. Veith writes to Christian students in the universities to withstand the attacks on their faith and to show them “how the life of the mind, in whatever discipline they are called to, is worth pursuing for God’s sake.”
My second encounter was in a conversation with Dr. Dave Faust, President of Cincinnati Christian University, and soon to be Senior Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church. Dave was telling me about the phenomenal response CCU had regarding a recent lectureship by Ravi Zacharias, the premiere Christian apologist of our age. Dave went on to describe how a pastor, Jeff Vines, leads a weekend retreat every year with graduating seniors in their church to equip them in apologetics before they go on to college. Great idea. One I’d like to implement here.
My third encounter was with my oldest son, Will, who is going on to college this fall. He saw the movie, “God’s Not Dead,” recently, and he also had been reading through some atheist websites regarding their attacks on Christianity and the Bible. We had a good talk about how antagonists of the Faith will twist and misuse Scripture in an attempt to “prove” the Bible is false.
These three encounters happened in such close proximity of time that I realized the importance of this crucial issue: Apologetics. The Apostle Peter tells us to “always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15, ESV). He goes on to say that we are to have a good conscience so that “when [we] are slandered, those who revile [our] good behavior in Christ may be put to shame” (v. 16).
Did you notice the word, “when”? Peter doesn’t say that we might be slandered, or if we are slandered, but when we are slandered. Even if we are prepared to make a defense for the hope we possess, even if we do so with gentleness and respect, even if our consciences are clear, we WILL be slandered. But what does Peter say is the answer to that slander? Our “good behavior in Christ.”
Our critics will not always be impressed with our logical defense of the faith. But our behavior is compelling. Here’s the good news in all of this. For those of us who feel ill-prepared when it comes to defending what we believe and why we believe it, our most important apologetic is how we behave. Now, this doesn’t let us off the hook of not preparing to defend the hope we possess with gentleness and respect. But it assures us that if we get tongue-tied, or we can’t remember the Scripture reference we were going to quote, or our mind goes blank when someone asks us a critical question about Creation vs. Evolution, we can still live out the Gospel in holiness and love.
Jesus Himself said, “They will know you are my disciples if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). He also said, “For the tree is known by its fruit” (Matthew 12:33). What fruit are you bearing? How are you demonstrating love for one another? That may be the most important apologetic your friend, co-worker or neighbor needs to see the difference Jesus makes in our lives and in this world.