“Apologetics” is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as:
1. systematic argumentative discourse in defense (as of a doctrine)
2. a branch of theology devoted to the defense of the divine origin and authority of Christianity
Both definitions use the word, “defense.”
I understand the importance and value of being able to communicate historical, philosophical, and scientific facts to support what we say we believe, and I have spent significant time learning these things to encourage my belief and help solidify my faith, but our relationship with Christ is supposed to be…well…a relationship. We talk to Him and He talks to us in different ways. We get to know Him the more time we spend with Him. And, as a bonus, we get to better know who we are also.
Think of our other relationships. Do we ever feel compelled to “defend” having a relationship with our mother? How about our father? What about our kids, our friends, or our spouse? No, of course not! What DO we DO? We tell people about those we love. We tell people stories about how we have been changed by the relationships we have with friends and family in our lives. And, most times, we want others to meet these special people in hopes that they will get to know them and like them also.
1 PETER 3:15 says to, “always be prepared to give the reason for the hope that you have.”
If we could talk about Jesus like a brother or close personal friend and what our lives have become since knowing Him or what we were like before we knew Him rather than trying to “defend” Him and our relationship, then people would be more likely to listen and possibly get to know Him too. “Defending” can be seen as being “defensive” and being defensive can be a repellent. It’s really not about trying to make people believe. When was the last time you tried to “argue” someone into believing your son, your daughter, or your spouse is awesome? Seems silly, right? Instead, we tell people about them. They see us smile as we remember times spent with them or hear us laugh as we recall something that happened when we were together.
WE can’t make anyone believe, but the way people can believe is by meeting Jesus themselves. We can introduce them to our Savior and our friend that is closer than a brother by talking about Him the way we would our best friends and family and show them the positive evidence of our relationship with Him in hopes that they will want to know Him too. But, to do that, WE have to know Him FIRST.