Whatever Barrier

Whatever barrier, whatever heartache, the God of the Scriptures invites us to come to Him.

“Our minds can shape the way a thing will be, because we act according to our expectations,” commented the filmmaker Federico Fellini. In their recent book The Power of Bad: How the Negativity Effect Rules Us and How We Can Rule It, authors John Tierney and Roy F. Baumeister examine “negativity bias”—“the universal tendency for bad events and emotions to affect us more strongly than positive ones.” They suggest that it can take four positive events to override a negative one. Their “Rule of Four” isn’t a rule but rather an observation—and a helpful one, I think, when we consider inviting skeptical individuals to take a closer look at Jesus.

Ravi Zacharias has said that one of the tasks of apologetics is to “remove obstacles in the path of the listener, so that he or she will get a direct look at the Cross and the person of Christ.” Such obstacles may be misinformation or a painful experience accompanied by unspoken assumptions and presuppositions. Whatever the barrier, “If apologetics is to be done effectively,” writes Ravi inside this issue of Just Thinking 28.2, “we must connect with the person at the level of the personal and understand where the individual faces their personal struggle. It is never a ‘one size fits all’ approach. 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.”

Whether from curious Nicodemus or the beleaguered woman at the well, Jesus invited searching questions—and asked a few of his own: “Why do you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31). “Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15). “Why do you call me good? (Mark 10:18). “What is it you want? (Matthew 20:21). Jesus listened carefully, probed his questioners’ assumptions, and extended grace to all.

Biblical history is accurate, compelling, and sometimes quite surprising, as Margaret Manning Shull and John Dickson suggest in their articles, “Easter Skeptics” (Manning Shull) and “Matters of History” (Dickson). For instance, upon examining the gospel accounts of Jesus’s resurrection, Margaret asks, “Given that a woman’s testimony was not credible, why would the gospel writers report them as witnesses—indeed, the first witnesses for the resurrection?” In his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus challenges the presuppositions of every generation.

Whatever barrier, whatever heartache, the God of the Scriptures invites us to come to Him. Through Jesus, we discover a God who listens carefully to our questions, who tenderly probes our hearts and minds, and who extends grace to all who would receive Him.

Danielle DuRant is Director of Research and Writing and Editor of Just Thinking magazine. This article is a part of Just Thinking magazine issue 28.2. Click here to download the PDF.

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