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Miranda Writes: Unapologetic About Apologetics, Part 2




by Omar Miranda



Last week we began our discussion about apologetics and talked about how it’s important for us to be able to effectively but kindly defend the Christian faith. We saw that defending the Christian faith is different from sharing our Christian faith. Typically, defending our faith is required when we come across someone who is not only uninformed or misinformed, but also possibly bitter or angry toward Christians.

People need the love and peace that only a deep and intimate relationship with Jesus can give them. But how do we present it in a way that is appealing to them and doesn’t immediately turn them off? We present it to them in a form that they can understand. But in order to do that, we have to get to know them—their lives; their likes and dislikes; their culture, if you will. This doesn’t mean that we have to be like them, act like them, talk like them, or dress like them. But it does mean that we have to enter their world and attempt to see it through their eyes.

Jesus did the same thing. After He, God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit got together and came up with the plan of salvation, Jesus came to this earth and was born poor, by an unmarried teenage mother on the wrong side of the tracks. The Bible says in John 1:1-4: “In the beginning was the one who is called the Word. The Word was with God and was truly God. From the very beginning the Word was with God. And with this Word, God created all things. Nothing was made without the Word. Everything that was created received its life from him, and his life gave light to everyone”(CEV).¹ And then in verse 14: “The Word became a human being and lived here with us. We saw his true glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father. From him all the kindness and all the truth of God have come down to us” (CEV).

When we read in Acts 17 the story of the apostle Paul talking to non-Christians in Athens, we can learn six things. We’ll only be able to cover two of them here. Before we get into the story, let me give you some background. The apostle Paul—previously known as Saul the Pharisee—and his friends Luke, Silas, and Timothy have set out on Paul’s second missionary journey. It seems that Paul caused riots and uproar wherever he went. The reason people got upset with him was that he refused to water down the gospel. He was worried about pleasing only one person: Jesus Christ! Most recently Paul had caused a riot in the city of Thessalonica, and he and his team had to be sent to Berea for their own safety. But again his preaching and his presence caused quite a stir, and he had to again be moved for his own safety, this time to Athens. However, things got so hairy this time that Paul had to go away by himself.

Here’s where we pick up the story—in Acts 17:16-34. I want you to read it for yourself and then come back, and we’ll talk more.

Have you read it? Great! Now let’s unpack this really interesting story.
The first thing we learn is that we need to care enough about people to be concerned that they will die without a love relationship with Jesus Christ (verse 16). 

Paul was really bothered by what he was seeing in Athens. Everywhere he looked he saw idols, and that wasn’t cool! The NIV translates it like this: “While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols.”²
How about you? Do you get really upset or bothered by all the sin, death, disease, and dysfunction you see in the world? How about in your school, church, or community? How about with your friends or your family? It’s easy just to plug in the MP3 player and say to yourself, “Hey, it’s all good. It’s none of my business!” Aren’t you glad that God didn’t say that about the sin problem in this world? Or that He doesn’t say that about you or me or your parents or friends?
The second thing we can learn from this story is that we should be ready with an effective defense of our faith anywhere and anytime. Don’t miss it: Paul was hanging out and waiting for his evangelistic team to arrive when he was thrust before a group of people and asked to speak about his faith. Paul didn’t take Jesus’ command to spread the gospel and limit it to one day a week—and neither should we. Paul was always sharing Jesus, whether he was standing in front of a group of people or speaking to one person. It didn’t matter to him whether he was free or in jail; he was always focused on evangelism. This wasn’t just his job, it was who he was! What a powerful lesson we can learn from Paul: evangelism and apologetics are not activities we do one day of the week; they are a lifestyle that we must decide to live day in and day out.
The Bible tells us in 1 Peter 3:15: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (NIV). How are people going to hear the gospel if you and I don’t present it? It’s real important that you understand that God may open a way for you to say something at the drop of a hat, and that’s why you’ve got to know and recognize God’s voice (which means that you’ve got to spend time listening to Him).
Now that we’ve begun the process of delving into this really interesting story, I hope you’ll come back next week, when we’ll continue to see what Paul had to say to the people of Athens and how he not only shared his faith but also defended it.
Until next time, remember these things: God’s way is always the best way. Life is full of decisions, so make yours good ones. Put God first in your life and you can’t go wrong.
Feel free to contact me: you can e-mail me at omarmiranda@earthlink.net; or you can keep up with me on Facebook; or you can read more of my stuff on Miranda Writes, at www.insightmagazine.org; or you can check me out or send me a message at my Web site, thriveatlife.org; or you can reach me via snail mail (slow!) at the address printed below.

In Christ,
Omar Miranda, certified Christian counselor
Abundant Life Ministries
155 Earl Street
Plainville, GA 30733
Phone: 1-770-354-2912

    ¹Scripture quotations credited to CEV are from the Contemporary English Version. Copyright © American Bible Society 1991, 1995. Used by permission.
    ²Scripture quotations credited to NIV are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Omar Miranda is a Christian counselor with 20 years’ experience working with youth in public and private middle and high schools. He’s married and has two kids. He enjoys teaching the youth at his church, reading, writing, gardening, and camping. He’s a recovering knucklehead who spent a lot of time in the past doing stupid stuff away from God. He’s been back with God for years now and is eager to share what he’s learned from his experiences by answering any questions you may have about life, the Christian life, Jesus, spiritual matters, and relationships in his column, Miranda Writes.

 





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