Twenty-odd years ago, I became a Christian, and part of the reason was apologetics, or defenses of the faith. God used several books, including C.S. Lewis’ wonderful Mere Christianity, to overcome my objections to the Christian faith.
By the time I got to seminary, however, I was really pretty bored with apologetics. It’s not that I had decided they were unimportant–far from it: as my faith became more important in my life, I realized how important those apologetics had been. But I’d moved on, and they weren’t very helpful to me any more. (Although I do still pick up my copy of Mere Christianity every couple of months and re-read a chapter or two.)
It turns out I’m not alone. In this article, Max Lucado, a best-selling Christian writer, says that the best apologetic is compassion.
Though Christians do need to respond intellectually to explain their faith, the long-time pastor recognized, “When the church argues back with society, I don’t know if we get very far.”
“But if we can say our passion is to help the poor and the forgotten, you cannot argue with that,” he noted. “Nothing convinces people of our Lord better than to live like he lived. We cannot live like he lived without being compassionate.”
That rings true for me. Jim Noble, the pastor who led me to Christ, told me, “Maybe you could believe in God if you saw him at work, and [his church] is a great place to watch.”
He was right. I had some baggage I needed to deal with, and my apologetic reading helped me do that. But it was seeing God at work in and through the community of faith engaged in works of compassion, that enabled me, finally, to put my trust in Christ.