Apologetics

“The presentation of apologetics isn’t always popular.” — Ron Carlson & Ed Decker, Fast Facts on False Teachings.

There isn’t any reason why someone should immediately like to be told they are wrong, save one.

One night after visiting an elderly friend, on the verge of fatigue, I turned on the main street out of the neighborhood to get home.  What I didn’t realize until the car lights streamed into my windshield and the horn screamed in my ears was that I had turned into a two-lane, one-way street.  A median separated me from the other two lanes, the two going the right direction.

I was terrified.  I had that second where I wondered if the car was going to stop or barrel right into me. But the car slowed down, and there was a parking lot on the left side I was able to turn into.

I was not mad at the driver for warning me.  I didn’t accuse him (or her–it was too dark to know) of rudeness or inconveniencing me.  Because I was headed straight for big-time disaster, and that driver’s quick reaction had prevented me from a head-on collision that would have been totally my fault.

Apologetics aren’t ever going to popular for people who believe differently, unless for the sake of sparring or for people who like confrontation.  But, though I hate conflict, I am into apologetics.  I don’t want hate mail, I don’t want to be cussed at, and I don’t want to be unpopular.  But I do want people who are headed for eternal disasters to be warned of where they are going.

The stakes are too high to worry about popularity.

But I do worry about popularity.  But, more than my worry about popularity, is my worry for the millions of people who have no idea they are headed for Hell.  I worry, because I used to be one of them.  I don’t want to cause arguments or anger or lose friends.  But, more than not wanting those things, I feel the new longing of my heart is for people to come to know Jesus.  Where I used to see bodies, I am beginning to see souls.  Souls of eternal value.  Souls trapped in the wrong lane, souls that could be snatched away by a head-on collision at any moment.

In Galatians 1:10, Paul, a missionary who could never honestly be accused of trying to win popularity contests (what with public beatings and being the object of riots and escaping from a city by being lowered down the wall in a basket), wrote:

Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. (NIV)

This is key: servants of Christ cannot expect to win approval of those who hate Him.  And those who hate Him . . . is everyone who does not know Him.

Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. (James 4:4b, NIV)

Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. (Jesus, quoted in John 15:20, NIV)

If those who hate God hate His people . . . and if those who hate Him is everyone who does not know Him . . . that’s a huge, vast majority of the world’s population that will hate me if I live my life for and talk about Jesus!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So why ever would I want to share my faith, then?  Why not hide away in a monastery until I die and go to Heaven?

Because . . . I don’t know whether my waiter will die that night in a car crash.

I don’t know if the grocery store clerk has just been diagnosed with cancer.

I don’t know if the guy who cuts me off in traffic, the woman who butts in front of me in line, the teenage girl whose phone conversation is being broadcasted through the movie theater . . . I don’t know if their souls are safe with Jesus.

I don’t know when people will die . . . but I do know they will face judgment someday, the same judgment I could never stand up to without the blood of Jesus Christ poured out over every second of my life.

And so . . . it becomes plain old stupid for me to worry about whether somebody has cost me to miss the green light or wait five extra minutes with sore feet or not hear the critical point of the plot in a movie.  And it becomes plain old stupid for me to worry about whether they will say mean things to be or walk the other direction when they see me if I share my faith.

What matters is whether or not they follow Jesus.

Carlson and Decker are right–apologetics aren’t always popular.  The topic isn’t even usually popular.  But sharing the Message of Christ has the power to forever change the life of someone else.

When else do I have the chance to change forever the life of anyone?  I could build a mansion for somebody; I could bail them out of debt; I could break them out of prison; I could get them off on charges of murder; I could find their kidnapped loved one; I could serve them for the rest of my life . . but none of those things has the power to change someone’s life forever.

I cannot by any extraordinary act or by any eloquence of language change the life of someone forever.  I can, at best, improve their quality of life as they drive down the wrong lane of traffic, soon to ram into the eternal consequences of a life without salvation.

I cannot do anything to bring about eternal change.  But, by the grace of God, I can be a pointer to eternal change.  Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:10:

But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me–and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace. (NLT)

Apologetics aren’t popular.  The name is strange, and the ideas hard to communicate to a world driving down the wrong lane.

But killing my pride, killing my fear, killing my laziness, killing my selfishness, and killing my neediness-for-popularity so that I may defend Jesus is totally worth it.  Because Jesus is the only way for anyone to change lanes.

Every day of our life we face death because of Jesus. In this way, His life is seen in our bodies. (2 Corinthians 4:11, NLV)

“I am the Way,” replied Jesus, “and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, Weymouth NT)

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. (John 1:4, NIV)

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Photograph by Kelsey_Love_Fusion, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/supersonicphotos/

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

The book I’m reading: Fast Facts on False Teachings by Ron Carlson & Ed Decker (c) 1994.

Devotion for the day in my Bible was from the incredible book of Jeremiah, a man given insight into the one and only Messiah who would come, at a time apologetics were very unpopular.

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