The First Apologetic
The first apologetic is love. Admittedly, these words are not my own. I first heard this phrase from Dr. Bruce Baugus, a professor of philosophy and theology at RTS Jackson. As someone who is interested in the practice and use of apologetics, this phrase struck a chord with me. If you are unaware, apologetics has to do with the defense and commendation of the Christian faith. Though the definition is quite simple, the conversation surrounding apologetics in the academic Christian world is anything but simple. In this world of academic apologetics, you will find serious debate concerning the methods, philosophies, and arguments which are suitable to the task of defending the faith and which are obedient to God’s word. This is all well and good and serves to strengthen our apologetic efforts. Yet a vital element can often be missing from our discussion of and use of apologetics. That vital element is love. When the apostle Peter says “in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15), we must ask ourselves why? What reason do I have to always be ready and to make a defense of the gospel? That reason is love. Specifically, a two-fold kind of love. A kind of love that is first is aimed at our Lord Jesus Christ. Peter shows us that our apologetic endeavors must start with a desire to honor Christ in our hearts. If apologetics becomes abut upholding our own sense of superiority, winning a debate, or proving we are right, we have forgotten the first apologetic. Our apologetics must be rooted in a deep love for Christ, and a desire to see his kingdom flourish. Secondly, the first apologetic deals with our love toward those we witness to. Peter makes clear that our apologetics must be gentle and respectful. Our attitude toward the unbeliever must be one of tender kindness, patience, and understanding. Once again, our goal is not to beat the believer. Rather we winsomely and patiently share with them our hope, with the goal that the Christian faith becomes their hope also.
Is there someone in your life that you are witnessing to? A family member or friend that God is giving you opportunities to speak with? If so, remember the first apologetic. Speak to that person out of love and concern. And most of all, remember your Savior and be filled with love for him. Remember Paul’s words, "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal”. (1 Cor 13:1)