Defending vs Displaying

I used to get so caught up in knowing things like scientific and philosophical arguments for the existence of God.  I used to worry that I didn’t have all the answers.  I used to practice what I would say to someone who didn’t believe in God, in an effort to sound coherent and logical and philosophical.  Because, after all, It has to make sense, right? It’s up to me to convince people this Christianity thing is legit, right?

In seminary we are taught all of these things and are tested on these things.  I am glad we were.  Anselm is a good guy to read, no doubt. These philosophical and scientific reasons for God are important to know and engage with. I am for apologetics — in an appropriate context.

However, I am convinced of one thing, apologetics should not be the main approach to showing God to others. Lived-out-love must come first.

This morning I read this passage: Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. -Colssians 3:12-14

The Scriptures never tells us to argue, defend, convince. The Scriptures never tell us to know the reasons for God, they tell us to be the reason. They just tell us to love people out of the abundance of Love God has shown us. “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” –John 15:12

What if, instead of concentrating on defending our faith, we first focus on just displaying it?


Photo © Mary Lawson

I’ve never heard of anyone who was argued or convinced into the faith, but there are lots of people who were loved into the faith.

You can argue that Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel is beautiful, but if someone does not experience it, they just don’t get it.  You cannot convince someone something is beautiful and true until they really experience it themselves.


When we forgive people who wrong us and don’t deserve to be forgiven, when we love the unlovable – that’s when people see the Father. Let’s let our compassion and humility and kindness point to God rather than how we argue philosophically about God’s existence.

Hans Urs Von Balthasar writes,  “The saint is the apology for the Christian religion.”

It’s not about what we say, it’s about how we live our lives, clothed in God’s grace and love. That’s when people can truly experience the beauty of the Kingdom of God and be ushered into the love and grace found there. And this beauty goes beyond comprehension, it surpasses understanding.