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.”