I don’t know too many people who are completely confident in talking about their faith with those who believe differently. It’s true: if you want to get into an argument with someone, just bring up either politics or religion! But shouldn’t we be able to discuss such things with gentleness and respect… and conviction, because we really believe our faith is important and true?
1 Peter 3:15 says, “But in your hearts set apart 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.” There are a few important things to notice here:
- Our lives should look differently from those who have not set apart Christ as Lord.
- This difference will cause others to come to us in order to find out why we’re hopeful in seemingly hopeless situations.
- We should be prepared with our response rather than stammering through it (“umm, well, ah, I’m, like, a Christian… so, ya know..”)
- We should respond honestly that we have hope because of Christ, but we should be gentle and respectful in our conviction. This doesn’t mean we don’t say “Jesus is the only way to God,” but it does mean we that we say it with gentleness and respect.
I believe that too many Christians act like they’re only going to get one shot at evangelizing people, so they need to share every core biblical truth with the person they’re talking to. That might sound like a good idea, but I’ve found that if you treat the conversation like the only one you’ll have with that person… you’ll probably be right! We need to just be honest, gentle, and respectful in what we say and how we say it.
Apologetics is simply “the study and practice of defending biblical beliefs.” As a Christian, I do not hold my beliefs with my eyes shut to reason or science. Rather, I believe that reason and science affirm what Scripture teaches! Over the next few youth group lessons we will be dealing with different objections that come up against Christian belief and I’ll be sharing different “apologetic responses” (note, this isn’t “I’m sorry” responses, but “defending my belief” responses). Alex McFarland has some really helpful and simple articles for those who are new to apologetics at his website.
In all of these discussions about Apologetics, however, I believe it’s extremely important to keep a few things in mind:
- Apologetics is not designed to simply help you win arguments, but is a great tool for helping to dismantle roadblocks people have in the way between themselves and a saving faith in Jesus Christ.
- It’s not my job to convince anyone to become a Christian. It’s my responsibility to be obedient to tell people, but it’s God’s job to convince them.
- Always remember 1 Peter 3:15’s emphasis on GENTLENESS and RESPECT. You can win an argument, but completely turn people away from the love of God by being arrogant and mean-spirited.
- FINALLY, Remember that convincing people that evolution is wrong won’t make anyone a Christian if he still doesn’t know anything about Jesus! Keep the main thing the main thing… the Gospel of Jesus Christ (God sent Jesus to live, die, and rise from the dead so that our sin would be forgiven and our relationship with God would be restored) is the main thing.
When I think back to all the spiritual conversations I had with my best friend in High School I wish I could take them back. We talked about religion a lot since he was a Buddhist and I was a committed Christian, but most of our conversations revolved around creation/evolution. I rarely turned the conversation to be about Jesus Christ. In the end, I trust that God still used those conversations somehow and that someday my friend will become a Christian, but I suspect that I spent most of my time and efforts on a debate that is good but not the main thing. I wish I could have those conversations back, and I hope you don’t make the same mistake with the opportunities you’re given.