This post is part of a dialogue at Jollyblogger which began at Glenn Lucke of Common Grounds and continues at Bolgblog.
Update: more on the subject here
Here is my take on this important topic:
How to show other poor beggars how to find bread?
When we think of apologetics, as Christians, we often think of the academic and intellectual method of making convincing arguments for the reality of Jesus and the existence of God. I find that this method is not very effective at least it is not effective for me.
In fact, I believe this method gets the proverbial cart before the horse. The intellectual method tries to have a person be able to explain a faith that they have no experience of. It is like trying to get a person to explain the physics of a double back flip when they don’t know how to do a summersault. Being able to explain the physics of a double back flip is nice and all but it has very little to do with actual gymnastics. So too understanding a philosophical or evidential argument for the existence of God and the validity of a belief in miracles like the resurrection is pretty advanced explanation for someone who probably doesn’t even understand how to be nice to his children or how to nurture and love his spouse or control his sexuality or whatever the case.
There is in fact a much better way to lead someone into the kingdom of God. Imagine you are talking to someone. It could be anyone. When speaking to this person, attempt to discern his spiritual health. We are like doctors. Ask a few questions that could diagnose his spiritual health? “Are you married?” “Are you happily married?” People complain a lot. When they complain, it is easy to say. “What do you think is the best response to this problem?” Or “Are you stressed?” If at this point I can share that I too used to have this same problem, then we might just have an opportunity.
Personally, my favorite topic is marriage. Jesus has taught me how to do marriage really well. I cannot imagine anyone being happier than I am in marriage. In the world around us, sixty percent of all marriages fail. We, therefore, look for opportunities to help heal a marriage by addressing spiritual problems!! If I apply simple spiritual principles like forgiveness or meekness and help heal a man's marriage, I will have far more authority in that person’s life than if I know the cosmological argument.
Jesus Heals Anonymously
Here is a great key!! The blind man in John 5 had to go back to Jesus and ask Him His name after the healing. We can heal a persons body or soul through the power of Jesus and the person's relationship with Jesus can grow as a result. A clear mind with respect to seeing and knowing God is often the result of having our soul cleansed along spiritual lines. By spiritual lines I mean with respect to love and forgiveness and mercy. As a person learns the ways of Christ, this purity leads to seeing and knowing God. A sick spirit will be confused theologically. Attempts to argue theology with a person who is spiritually sick is crazy making. First get the person to take the log out of their eye and then they will see clearly.
The Pure in Heart shall see God
Often a person may have a very marginal and nominal faith, but as he or she becomes more spiritually healthy and begins to fall in love with the word of God, forgiveness and love, he will begin to get more sober minded with respect to his worldview. This method is looking to minister to a person’s spirit and to nurse them to spiritual health as the means to changing their minds. It is rather simple for a person who is finding restoration of their lives to see that the source of their healing is the Savior of the world. Isn’t this what Jesus did? He healed and then he revealed.
In my own life a few years back, I was driven out of my work in an ambulance. I was complaining of chest pains. It turns out that this was the result of stress. At the time, I had one job and five kids but I had put myself under a lot of pressure. Today my life is totally different. My circumstances aren’t any different. I still work at the same job. In fact, I have since then began to also pastor a church. I now have six kids. In many ways, my life is far more busy, but in all this I am far less stressful. In fact my testimony now is that I have found the path to peace. I have a testimony.
Peace for a Stressed Out World
If anything characterizes our world, it is busy and stressed out. If we are walking in the kingdom, then we possess in our daily lives “righteousness, peace and joy in the holy spirit”. Of course, we must learn the principles of Jesus to learn how to enter the kingdom in such a way as to have an authentic testimony. But the point is we, if we know how to do it, can lead people into a life of victory over stress. No one on the planet can do this better than a follower of Jesus Christ. Each one of us has a different calling. Jesus has given us victory over different difficulties. Some can share the path to victory over anger with the guy next door. Some can share about how to control the tongue or how to control our thought life or how to find victory over depression. Find someone who has a common problem and share with them the path to victory. We are all just beggars showing beggars where to find bread. Feed them and they will come to know the one who is the bread of life.