I Feel Stupid. I become easily intrigued and fascinated when it comes to apologetic arguments. Whenever I listen to or watch apologists, I often think, “Wow! I definitely didn’t know that!” For the Christian, apologetics can certainly be an effective source of encouragement in the faith. Yet, I’ve also felt something else: stupid.
I know I’m not the only one who’s felt this way after listening to an apologetic debate or talk. I mean, listen to how well these people know their science, philosophy, and history! You think to yourself, “How on earth do these people know this much!?” Because of the seemingly “great knowledge” these apologists have, it’s easy for us to walk away thinking, “If only I knew what they knew, then I’d be a good Christian,” or “If only I could talk the way they did, then I’d be able to lead people to Jesus.”
Have you ever thought this way? Let me be the first to relieve you: you do not need to be an expert in all things science, philosophy, and history in order to be an effective Christian and lead people to Christ. If you think that way, then you’re putting too much weight on your work, rather than the Spirit’s work.
Let’s briefly look at how to be an effective Christian and lead people to Christ.
Two Marks of An Effective Christian
Firstly, an effective Christian obeys that which he or she is sent to. Now, there’s a phrase that many Christians use that sounds something like this: I’m called to the ministry, or, God called her to be a missionary. We think of “calling” as something specific. I’d like to challenge that phrasing, and instead use the word “sent” or “send.” Let me explain. Every Christian is “called” to the same things – obedience, love, discipline, worship, evangelism, etc. Not every Christian is “sent” to the same things. God may send you to formal church ministry, her to the mission field, and him to janitorial work. An effective Christian goes where they’re sent – living out their calling in which all Christians have been called.
Secondly, you lead people to Christ by preaching the gospel. I remember in a world religions class in Bible College, the professor said, “Alright, next class each of you are going to come up to the front and preach the gospel.” The sound of gasps and looks of terror filled the room. Yes, much of the fear was due to a feeling of insecurity in regards to public speaking. But I’m sure that some of it was a fear of not knowing exactly what the gospel is. I mean, ask yourself right now: what exactly is the gospel? Is it merely the Sunday school answer? That Jesus died on the cross for our sins? It certainly isn’t not that, but is saying that even helpful if you don’t explain it?
It all comes down to the story of the gospel. That is the one thing you need to know well. Why? Because people are led to Christ by the power of the Spirit when they hear the gospel. It has nothing to do with special or fancy words. It also has nothing to do with charisma or personality. It’s simply and profoundly, the gospel story. And through the telling of that story, the Spirit either opens the mind and heart of someone or not.
So, to be an effective Christian that leads people to Christ looks like this: you go where you’re sent, and live out the Christian calling by preaching the gospel wherever you are.
Listen to Paul explain it:
“How then will [unbelievers] call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’” (Romans 10:14-15)
You see, all the “great knowledge” that apologists have isn’t necessarily necessary – at least to everyone. When I think of some of the great apologists of our day, I can rejoice with them that they have gone where God has sent them. They travel around the world having debates with the top scientists, philosophers, and historians in some of the most prestigious universities. Part of their “sending” involves them knowing science, philosophy, and history in ways that, say, a farmer in central Canada would never have to know. Yet, at the same time, that farmer knows agricultural facts and wisdom that no apologist would ever think of.
Every Christian must go where they’re sent, and preach the gospel where they are.
Next time you listen or watch an apologetic debate, don’t be discouraged by feeling unqualified for evangelism. Rejoice that they’re being excellent where God has sent them, and be inspired to be excellent where God has sent you.