Think Again - The Gentle Goldsmith
French philosopher Auguste Comte once observed that "ideas govern the world or throw it into chaos." I believe he was absolutely right. History has shown that crimes of logic can be more catastrophic for humanity than crimes of passion. Like a herd of mindless sheep following their leader off a cliff, many in our day have lost the ability to think critically to their own detriment.
How do you reach a generation that listens with its eyes and thinks with its feelings? I believe the strident attacks of the antitheists and other factors such as globalization have made apologetics and critical thinking an indispensable need for our times. Thus, we must understand the other worldviews we encounter and be a patient listener to someone of another faith. But first we must know how to defend our own beliefs, for if we cannot answer the skeptics' genuine questions, we will confirm in their minds the faulty idea that Christianity is intellectually flawed. So it is important to know how to defend what we believe and to do this with gentleness and respect, recognizing the significance of God's transforming grace in our own lives.
However, let me offer this word of encouragement: Do not underestimate the role you may play in clearing the obstacles in someone's spiritual journey. A seed sown here, a light shone there may be all that is needed to move the seeker or skeptic one step further. Indeed, if apologetics is to be done effectively, we must connect with the person at the level of the personal. Jesus consistently drove this home. His one-on-one conversations were remarkably personal and left others looking into their hearts and considering their spiritual condition.
One of the most extensive conversations Jesus had surprised his own disciples— a conversation with a Samaritan woman (see John 4). You recall how this woman at the well raised one question after another as if that were really her problem. It would have been very easy for the Lord to call her bluff with some castigating words. Instead, like a gentle and nimble-handed goldsmith he rubbed away the markings of sin and pain in her life until she was amazed at how much true gold he brought out in her. He gave her hope, knowing all along who she was on the inside. The value of the person was an essential part of Jesus's message—and this must be so for us as well. A genuine love for others can cast a bright, golden light in a dark and hurting world.