The woman overheard me telling someone else I am teaching high schoolers at church. That must’ve piqued her interest because she asked in a positively curious tone, “Oh, what are you teaching?”
“Apologetics,” I told the 30-something year old Christian.
“Oh….what does that mean?” she asked, her tone now more confused than perky.
“It means knowing why you believe what you believe,” I responded.
“Oh…” she said uncomfortably, “…that’s….cool….” She didn’t know what else to say, I guess.
Unfortunately, I think this conversation could take place with a large number of people who genuinely love Jesus in our churches.
I’m concerned for Christians who don’t know why they believe what they believe and are OKAY WITH THAT.
Most of the people in this category probably grew up in church. They’ve always believed Biblical doctrine (and some not-so-biblical doctrine, but that’s another post entirely). They base their beliefs on what their pastor has always said, or what their Grandma always taught them, or what their parents said was the truth. And the buck stops there. What’s good enough for these role models is good enough for this kind of Christian. They don’t question what they’ve been taught. They don’t see the need.
But here’s the problem with that.
Pastor and Grandma and Mom and Dad aren’t necessarily going to be there with this Christian when life gets tough, and if they are there, they can’t choose for this Christian whether or not he or she is going to believe God in the midst of hardship.
When the pain of circumstances makes it hard to breathe and God feels totally absent, other people’s beliefs about God won’t be enough motivation for someone else to retain their beliefs in God. We have to know for ourselves why we can believe that God is sovereign and good and trustworthy even in the most brutal times of our lives.
Similarly, when the temptation to live for self is stronger than an ox, other people’s beliefs about God won’t be enough incentive for someone else to choose to resist temptation. We have to know for ourselves why we believe living life God’s way is ultimately in our best interest and that we have power through the Spirit to resist the pull of wrongdoing.
This building our own faith upon the faith of others rather than upon the Bible itself happens. A lot. And it can have disastrous effects.
A kid that “witnessed” to me in high school got so frustrated with my refusal to believe in God that he literally threw his hands up and yelled, “JUST BELIEVE JUST IN CASE!” And then he went to college. And denounced God. He never knew why he believed what he believed growing up.
We can’t coast through life hoping that so-and-so’s beliefs about God are both right and will be all we need to make it through trials and tribulations. They might not be accurate, and, at some point or another, they probably won’t be enough to get us through trying times. If our faith is based on someone else’s faith, we are setting ourselves up for a huge spiritual fall.
I’m also concerned for Christians that don’t know why they believe what they believe and are okay with that because they aren’t equipped to share their faith, which means they probably aren’t. And that’s the whole reason we are on this earth – to go and make disciples! If we aren’t doing that, we are blatantly disobeying a command given to us by Jesus in the Bible (Matthew 28:19-20), and we are missing the whole big picture of Christianity! The Gospel is good news – too good not to share – and it is essential news – too essential not to share.
But how can we share our faith if we don’t even know why we believe what we believe? From personal experience, I guarantee you no one will accept Jesus because you tell them, “My pastor says Jesus is the only way to Heaven, and I’m pretty sure that’s in the Bible somewhere.”
When we share our faith, we have to be prepared for people to ask questions, namely, “Why?” Why should they believe what you are saying is true? Why should they trust the Bible? Why is Christianity any different or better than any other religion? Why do you think Jesus was God? Why do you believe in a God at all? Why does a good God allow evil and suffering?
Believers, it’s time to know why. For you. For others.