Scripture commands it. Jesus and the apostles modeled and practiced it. And it works. Three guesses what I’m talking about? Defending the faith, or apologetics.
A decade or two ago, WWJD appeared in a lot of places. Bumper stickers, wristbands, sermon series, even billboards. “What Would Jesus Do” became a watchword and popular culture trend. If Jesus were standing beside you, not just spiritually, but physically, what impact would He have on how you live? Would He fill you with boldness and rid you of your timidity? Of course!
One reason is the presence of Jesus would dispel the negative thoughts some of us carry to this day about who we are and our inherent value. Do we really belong and matter to anyone? Many of us wrestle with places of uncertainty “inside” about our values, calling, identity, and Christian practices. We say we believe the right things because they are true, but often wonder if they are actually “true,” and not just for us? Is the truth we believe really true? If it is, it would have a profound influence on how we think and live, right?
Sadly, that is not the case for some in the Body of Christ. Some consider apologetics peripheral or even non-essential. Yet my experience in 3.5 plus decades of campus ministry have borne out the reality that most men and women leave home for college ill-prepared to understand, articulate, and defend their faith, hope, and trust in King Jesus.
Having to face critics of Christianity at the secular college or university is challenging for all Christ-followers, but I have noticed the toughest critic most of us have to face is ourselves. Our own doubts and questions tend to derail our faith journey more than a skeptical roommate or agnostic professor’s claims the Bible is irrelevant, outdated, and not trustworthy in its contents.
If you are not confident the message of Scripture is true, it is hard for you to trust in it. Trust is hard to manufacture and does not work well if you have to squeeze it out by sheer will. But if you get your head, heart, and hands on valid evidence that is substantiated with compelling reasons, your confidence grows, deepens, and it strengthens your faith.
That is why the four Gospels about Jesus (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) were written and became the best-selling biography of all time. In one example, the apostle John wrote that he presented evidence that the central purpose of his Gospel was to give hardcore evidence for faith in Jesus as the Christ (read John’s words in John 20:30-31 of the New Testament).
Spiritual growth involves increasing our knowledge and understanding of the Truth, who is a Person. We need confidence that the things we learn are actually true. In Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship chapters across the country, students are helped to know what to believe, but just as importantly, why they should believe it. Our staff and student leaders help students study and learn about the powerful evidences supporting Christianity. Increasing their knowledge about Jesus strengthens faith and doubts begin to fade. The critic’s voice in your own heard starts to lessen. Spiritual confidence in Jesus and his teachings translates into spiritual action for him.
Serve globally. When doubts shrink, it changes your prayers (more aggressive), your sense of trust (it is anchored in the Father’s character and care of you), and you’ll work harder, knowing your efforts are not in vain. Apologetics can turn shaky faith into Christ-centered confidence.
Love is a verb,
©2017 by Mike Olejarz