In the first part of this series, we looked at some questions that others might ask us about our faith, as well as where we could look for answers ahead of time (before we are asked something that would otherwise stump us).
This article covers a little bit about the study of apologetics. This may take the form of a book, a lecture, or sometimes a debate, where a Christian explains the facts behind his or her faith in God. Apologetics can be used to explain why things are the way they are, or to defend against false claims – whether against the Bible or against the teachings of Jesus.
For someone genuinely trying to learn more about the facts and the philosophy behind the Christian faith, apologetics are a great way to reinforce rational belief, and to understand why many others have made the same choice.
However, the next verse (see the preceding article for the context, here) makes it clear that our answers – to those who have questions for us about our faith – shouldn’t be obnoxious or rude.
But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.
1 Peter 3:16 NLT
(Or, for further study, 1 Peter 3:13-17 sets a bigger picture, yet.)
The truth is not meant to be a giant stick that we club people over the head with. Just like being singled out in a group, laughed at by others, or generally humiliated for saying the wrong answer at school, none of us like to have someone tell us that our statements – or our viewpoints – are wrong. However, when we are wrong, we would much rather have someone politely (and often privately) explain to us what we’re missing, instead of calling us out in front of others. For example, if you’ve got something in your teeth, it’s much better if a friend gives you a discreet signal to check a mirror, compared to having a loudmouth announce to everyone at the table that you’re still sporting a spinach leaf from two courses earlier in the meal.
The study of the truth is not meant to make us feel smarter or better than anyone else, or to beat them up for being wrong. Instead, having a good answer – a good testimony – should help others connect the difference in our lives with the reason for that difference, and hopefully encourage them to come to the same conclusions. Opportunities to teach the truth are special chances to help others out.
So, seek out answers to what you believe, and – whether or not those topics come up in conversation – you will be ready to explain your faith to others. If that seems a little intimidating, read what Jesus told His disciples in the passage below:
When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”
Luke 12:11-12 NASB
While I don’t think that this gives us the option to not be ready with an understanding of our faith, it does mean that we don’t have to worry whether we’ll say just the “right” thing at the right time. Remember, you’re not going to save anyone today on your own. Only Jesus can do that; all you can do is to “make the introduction”.
If you’re interested, here’s one way that I tell my story: My Testimony. If it gives you some ideas, or maybe makes you think that you could tell your own story, that would be great!