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Friday, January 3, 2014

Impromptu Conversations

When my son Will was about 10, we were driving home from church on a Sunday evening and he said to me, “Dad, sometimes it's hard for me to believe everything in the Bible.” That was a critical moment in my son’s life and in our relationship. He’d never said anything to me like that before. I’m sure you have noticed that significant conversations rarely announce themselves in advance. We just have to be ready for them when they arrive.

There are a couple of things that I'm grateful for as I look back to that moment. One, is that Will and I had the kind of relationship where he felt comfortable to be honest with me. Second, God helped me to respond reasonably well. I was able to say to him that I understood and that I too at times had such questions. We talked about some of his questions and I told him that it was important that he keep thinking and investigating and that he continue reading his bible as he did. I told him that I had discovered that there were good answers to his questions, even though I didn’t always remember them, and that there was no conflict between rational thought and belief in Jesus. That was the end of the conversation. It wasn’t long; it was just a quick moment and then it was over.

Are you ready for these kinds of impromptu conversations? They don’t only come from children. Sometimes a coworker, a friend, or a neighbor will throw up a challenge that needs a response. It’s ok to say, “I don’t know,” as long as you can also say and mean, “But I am willing to find out.”

It was never safe to be complacent about being ready to give a reason for the hope that we have (1 Peter 3:15) and it certainly is not now. There are many resources for helping us answer our own questions as well as be prepared to help others. We need a disciplined approach to reading and preparing. This is the responsibility of every believer, not to win arguments, but to be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us. I’m recommitting myself to consistent reading and thinking about the kinds of objections people have to the faith. Opportunities for such conversations are only going to increase. Would you join me?

To help, over the next few weeks I plan to address some of the toughest of these questions like,  “If God is good, why is there suffering and evil in the world?” and “Why do Christians say Jesus is the only way to God?” and, “Isn’t religion the cause of much of the violence in history?” Sunday I’ll begin by sharing evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. Since Jesus rose from the dead, everything he said matters. If he didn’t, nothing that he said does. You can see Sunday’s outline here.

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