This post is a bit lengthier than normal. I apologize in advance for the length.
I love summer. Not only is the season filled with beauty and warmth, but one can see the fullness of life. It's the time of unique opportunity to meet visitors from every part of the world in your own hometown. For my family, summer has always presented an entirely different thrill all together. What is this thrill? Vacation Bible School.
My mother has directed VBS for at least thirteen years, and I've taught VBS for over eight. Needless to say, I've seen numerous themes and materials. Most of the time, no matter what the theme is, the same basic material is always presented and re-used. This year, however, our VBS is unique and far different from anything I've ever taught before.
What makes this VBS so unique is its sole purpose in using apologetic material to discover the person of Jesus. I've never heard of VBS doing apologetics! I believe that not only will the students learn some amazing things, but so will the workers.
"Apologetic: adj. . . 3. Serving as or containing a formal justification or defense. n. a formal defense or apology."The American Research Group conducted a survey that shows most young people are leaving the church after graduation because they believe the Bible is too shallow and their questions have not been answered. I'm a part of Generation Y. My generation, through the use of publications, social media, and even school, has had more access to every theory under the sun that attacks the Bible than most generations before us. Let's be honest. . . If we don't know our stuff, those theories can almost sound logical.
Unfortunately, many of us don't know how to counter those claims that Jesus is not the messiah, or offer proof that He rose from the grave. When we share Jesus with someone who holds wholeheartedly to the claims the world has offered, the conversation can start to feel a bit like a parent and child playing the "why?" game. They continue to ask why to everything we say, trying to get to basic essence of proof in our beliefs. It's usually at this point that the testimony comes out, as though it should offer enough proof. Yet for all our testimony, it will not convince anyone who truly doubts and believes what the world has thrown at them.
With the plethora of theories circulating in our society, the world needs something more than just our say-so. While the Word of God is powerful and active, I've found that quoting Scripture doesn't have the same effect on a world who views it as foolishness--and it's difficult to use Scriptures to make your point when those same people believe your resources were written by men who tarnished and changed the original to suit Christian's needs.
How then do we go about this difficult task? Peter instructs,
" . . . in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who ask you to give the reason for the hope you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed by their slander." 1 Peter 3:15-16.The Greek word used for "reason" is logos, which means "Intelligence, word as the expression of that intelligence, discourse, saying." This same word is used to also mean "metonymically for history, treatise, meaning a book or narration." It's the same word used in Acts 1:1 when Luke writes, "In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote . . ."
I can only gather from these Scriptures that we need to prepare ourselves with sound, logical reasons that are Scripturaly-based (since Luke wrote his Gospel on careful historical research) that conclusively answer the questions the world asks about what we believe.
Acts 18:28 states that Paul,
". . . vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ."The Scriptures Paul referred to were obviously Old Testament prophecies since the New Testament gospels and epistles had yet to be gathered together or even written. The word debate indicates we must have a counter-answer to supply when people question what we believe.
It's also interesting to note that Acts describes Paul as "arguing persuasively about the Kingdom of God" (Acts 19:8). Again, the word for "argue" is Dialegomai, which means "to reason, discuss, discourse; to argue, dispute."
We must also be able to argue persuasively about the Kingdom of God. The church is not on earth just to move forth in shattering the darkness with love and hope, but also with truth. 2 Corinthians 10:5 say, "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."
We are to demolish those arguments that pretend to be above the knowledge of God. I find it interesting that the Greek word used for arguments is the same word Paul used in his letter to the church of Colosse, where Gnosticism was quickly on the rise. Paul wrote that he was re-emphasizing what he taught the church so that "no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments" (Colossians 2:4).
What I find interesting is the word used for "Arguments" in both Scriptures. That word is Logismos (a root word to Logos), which means "to reckon. 1.) Consideration, reflection, deduction of reason."
We must be able to logically show people that Jesus is who He claims, that His grave is empty, and that the Scriptures have authority and accuracy. When we do this however, we must remember to do so in gentleness and respect, never demeaning someone for their unbelief.
A book that I find extremely helpful on this subject is The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. This book does a cross-examination on the evidence of Jesus. In fact, I had to use what I learned in this book recently to witness to someone.
Of course, there are some people who take apologetics to a whole new level and only focus on defending our faith. I believe with all my heart, that Christians need to balance defending the faith and reaching out to the world in love and truth. Without love, all that defense will be a clanging cymbal.
Let's be persuasive about the Kingdom of God!