Evangelism: How Defending Ourselves Shows Our Weakness

Around apartment 109 (where I live) you’ll notice all kinds of trends. Most of them like darts, poker, James bond for N64, NHL 95 for Sega, the apartment 109 website, us believing Jon was actually going to leave chapters, homework, Google ads, a bar in our living room and the list could go on for quite a while, they will fade out after a while and last anywhere between one week to a few months. They all come to an end sometime. This might tell you that we are dreamers, or that we are inconsistent; whatever way you want to look at the glass. All this to say that there is one trend I notice that is quite prevalent in all of us since the beginning. It’s the need to defend ourselves. Not one of us really wants to take the blame, especially if we know if we weren’t alone in the crime. For instance, if you were to ask whose dishes were in the sink, even though every single dish was in the sink that we own, all five of us would deny it. We all then would go on to tell stories about how once we cleaned all the dishes even when they weren’t ours or exclaim that we always do the dishes. The list of reasons and evidence is always the same and no one believes anyone else. Then someone breaks and cleans the entire sink full of dishes. It’s usually me because I always do the dishes.

I notice this not as a pattern just here in the apartment anymore but of all around me. We all find the needs to defend ourselves if we can find the least bit of innocence, even though for the most part we are quite guilty. We want people to know the reasons why we would do whatever we did. We want people to know that we at least felt really bad about it. We want people to know that we didn’t have a choice. We want people to know that we weren’t really acting within our true intentions. We want people to know all kinds of things to give the best picture of us as possible. This is mere humanity I think. We desire to be as perfect as possible and make sure everyone knows how close we are to that point. We hide what we don’t like and we gloat about what we like. For some reason though we decided some where along the line that defence works and actually makes people believe us.

No one actually believes me when I say I always do the dishes. Our defence system in many ways is a great weakness of ours. You’ll notice that the only time that it turns on is when we are feeling insecure or ashamed about our position. Anyone who is confident in themselves normally finds no need to defend themselves to all their accusers (though sitting in court may be a bit different of a story). I find this trend within Christianity all to strong.

Evangelism has turned into an evidence based, defence based technique. We show people how to ‘defend the faith’ or show them ‘evidence that demands a verdict’ so that they are confident in defending themselves wherever they go. We teach people to defend the inerrancy of the Bible so they can defend all their doctrines. We teach students to be strong and defend their faith and not to be ashamed. Could it be that in all of our attempts to defend our faith that we have blinded ourselves to why we do it in the first place? Could it be that the reason we are defending ourselves so intently is because we are insecure and guilty of something?

The reason evangelism as a word-based technique found ourselves among us is because slowly our lives failed to reflect the gospel. So we needed to start talking about it so at least it was getting out there. The reason evangelism as a defence based technique came to be is because we needed to defend ourselves against the accusations that were all around us. We have to defend with words and tell everyone that Jesus really does love them because we certainly weren’t showing it. We have to defend the fact that the bible was inerrant because our lives don’t represent the living and active story of God in them at all. We have to defend Jesus’ life and death historically because we failed at showing his presence among us. We have to defend biblical morals because we don’t live by them. We are scared, we are failing, we are guilty and we are finding ourselves in a place that we are comfortable with. So what do we do? We ramble and start talking. We try to prove our theology with our words and books instead of with our lives and love.

It’s time to get back to a living theology. It’s not nearly as important to convince your neighbour that the bible is actually the word of God and the Jesus actually existed as it is to invite him over for dinner and help him re-floor his house. Sometimes I think we should just shut up and love people and serve them. The over quoted St. Francis of Assisi says it best “preach the gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”

9 Comments

  • but… but.. I really DO do all the dishes at my house… ;)

  • “The reason evangelism as a word-based technique found ourselves among us is because slowly our lives failed to reflect the gospel.”

    Can you prove this?
    Was there a time when evangelism wasn’t word-based?

  • Maybe my phrasing is off. I don’t mean that it never existed, what i meant to say, and i now correct myself is it used to exist side by side with action based, but now it exists all alone.

  • Even so, Nate, that’s a fairly sweeping thing to say. Why is this “word only” evangelism a thing of today only?

  • Because its easier and nicer to talk than to Help. Its cheaper to give hope than it is feed the poor, take care of people, love and give your time.

  • nathan, sorry to disagree but if you believe that making a defense for ones faith is a sign of weakness how do you deal with the 2nd century which is known as the time and the birth of the Christian apologists who found ways to use the ‘Classical’ culture to defend and proclaim the message of Jesus to the pagan rulers of the empire.

    Also, don’t do as others and take Francis of Assisi out of context. Just because he lives his faith out to demonstrate the gospel doesn’t mean he never used words.

    and lastly to quote St.Peter “But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear or be disturbed, but set apart the Messiah as Lord in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you.” 1 Peter 3:14-15.

    see you soon
    D.r.

  • Disagreeing is where i learn.

    I’m not trying to discredit words comletely. What the post was tryng to do was point out how naturally we resort to falling back to words when our actions don’t meet up to what we are saying.

    There is obviously a place for words. All the great philosophers have taught us incredible amounts through words. The bible was written with words. Jesus combated heresy and the Pharisitical thinking with words.

    However, he was constantly using his words to point out how the Pharisees didn’t even do what they were telling others to do. In fact he told everyone to not do what they do because they aren’t practicing what they are preaching. He said that they talk and talk and talk but aren’t willing to help anyone do anything about it (Matt 23).

    Does that elaborate a bit?

    I think that in today’s culture that if we are unwilling or do not act out the gospel and are merely talking about it, then it is a sign of weakness.

    Could you explain how to take Francis of Assisi in context?

    Maybe I need to do a follow up post.

  • Nathan if “we are unwilling or do not act out the gospel and are merely talking about it,” This is not a sign of weakness it’s a sign that you’re not a follow of Jesus.

    More thoughts on Francis of Assisi sometime soon.

  • Oh my dear Nathan, something about your posts make me want to say “amen” not a phrase I really frequent. I hope one day I can hear you preach and shout it out in a service…that would be a first. haha..but what you say is so very true. I hope I can keep it in mind and remember to just love people at all times. I also read the apartment post – it is truly sad to be leaving this. My roommates are trying to con me into staying and just going to U of T next year. It’s such a struggle. I will miss your apartment though!! I’ve enjoyed just knowing you were across the street! Now that I’ve written a novel I’ll stop!
    Always, Elea xoxo

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