We Need More Than That

1 Peter 3:15 NIV
[15] But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…

Chances are, if you go up to a Christian and ask, “Why do you believe in Jesus,” the answer given will probably have something to do with a personal experience. Now, this is not wrong. To be honest, I meet too many Christians who seem to lack a deep, personal encounter/experience with The Lord. Yet, on the other side of the coin, is this enough?

I heard a story a while back of a Muslim that spoke of how God (“Allah” is nothing more than the Arabic word for “God”, similar to “Dios” in Spanish) healed him. The person was seriously ill, prayed to their God, and was healed. If you asked him why he believed in God, he might replay, “Because God is real, and him healing me proves it!” In other words, “Because of an experience I have had.”

When people ask for your reason for loving/following Jesus Christ, you better be able to point toward a personal experience you have had. HOWEVER, you need more than that. If the only defense you have for your faith is the same line (i.e. “I have had a personal experience.”) that an adherent in another religion can use, then Christ will seem nothing more than one option among many, a mere preference placed nicely and neatly among other buffet options.

Again, your “reason” for believing needs to be personal. If it is not, you are probably following doctrine more than the person of Christ. Yet, we as Christians need to be able to say more than that.

Let me give one example of what this might look like. If someone rises from the dead and later appears to approximately 500 people, then that would be a strong piece of evidence (not “proof,” for I advocate an inductive rather than deductive approach to demonstrating the reality and goodness of Christ) in favor of this risen person being God. You might come at it from this angle. If Christ didn’t rise from the dead, how did 11 disciples who were brokenhearted, disillusioned, disappointed, hopeless, and ashamed of their having left Jesus, all of the sudden live decades upon decades to honor Christ. Someone can live for a lie for some amount of time, but almost each one of these disciples ended up dying for Jesus after years of relentlessly serving Him. How do you fake that? One might say, “Well, it was pride. They didn’t want everyone to think they had made such a stupid, foolish choice.” I would reply, “Ok, maybe they could have faked it out of pride for a few months or years. But to keep going for decades and to be willing to even given their life for Christ, this seems to suggest they really did see a resurrected Christ. How could they have gone the distance, especially when you consider that their very life was required of them, for someone they were just pretending was alive. This kind of fortitude, persererance, and strength could have only existed in their hearts if indeed they witnessed and experienced a Jesus after His death.”

Now, this is not my original thought. Lee Strobel and others have developed this in more detail. Does the above “prove” that what Christians believe is in fact the truth? No. But does it provide one more piece of evidence that makes our case stronger? Yes! A little humility goes a long way. As a Christian, I am not called to provide a mathematical-type proof for God’s existence and goodness. However, I am called upon to provide pieces of evidence so that people have a hard time arguing that at the end of the day, among so many competing worldviews, Christianity really is the most comprehensive and holistic answer.

The bottom line is this: You better have more than, “I have experienced God.” You may not need it, but this is not about you. We are called to be salt and light. Being able to say more than, “I have experienced God,” is how we humbly love and serve our fellow human who does not yet share our faith.

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