We love a good debate. I think perhaps many men can relate to this. The Athenians had their market squares and we have our pubs. Give a man a pint and a stool and he, for a while, may genuinely believe that he is an expert on any matter and it is his job as arbiter of the truth to pass on this wisdom to every and anyone.
We discuss, we argue, we implore, we reason, we chide, and we may or may not change our minds.
Of course, these moments of lucid genius may only exist for the briefest segments of measured time in the middle of an evening otherwise long forgotten. However, these methods of reasoned debate, whilst sometimes lost in the depths of an old pub, are the same methods that we employ to make our minds up on all manner of things.
Adverts on TV work this way. The idea, the allure, the sell – the goal of all these is to convince us to decide to buy a product, or a way of life, or both. What car we buy, where we live, what career path we take, we make our decisions with the facts, and the feelings, and all of the input. Make no mistake; we reason our way through life. How we reason and whether our processes are any good is, of course, another question.
We think (fairly or poorly), we feel (fairly or poorly), we employ logic (accurately or inaccurately) and we form our conclusions.
But, You Can’t Reason Someone Into The Kingdom
We have looked at this before and the answer is well, yes. Yes you can. Sort of. The Bible tells us to be ready to respond to those who are asking questions of us about our hope, our faith (1 Peter 3:15-16). Our reasons have a potential power to persuade. The words that we speak, and don’t speak, have power.
The Bible takes a high view of words. The book of Proverbs can’t stop talking about them. Jesus verbally taught his disciples through words. And God brought the entire existence of everything into being through words. Words are powerful.
The words we use as we give reasons also have power. They can inform thinking and change peoples minds.
Our words are powerful because they are useful and they are useful because God works with them in unlocking human hearts that they might see the person and work of Jesus, his sacrificial death and offer of forgiveness.
Practically speaking we know that our words have power. We have encouraged people and brought smiles to faces. Equally we have knocked people down with rash outbursts. We will have changed people’s minds on matters with good wisdom too. Perhaps even your words have been instrumental at key moments in friends’ lives. Perhaps even friends have come to know Jesus because of what you have said.
For the apologist, for the evangelist, words are used often. It’s a very easy step from trusting the source of the power – Jesus – to trusting in the instrument of our reasoning, our words.
Our words have power when speaking of Jesus because Jesus is real. If Jesus wasn’t real, didn’t live, doesn’t live then our words are meaningless. Our reasoning about something untrue becomes undone because it simply cannot hold up.
For the wordsmiths among us, the poets, the men on stools in pubs across the country, let’s remember that our words serve our king, King Jesus. We preach Christ and reason Christ and celebrate Christ. Our words communicate to others what has been communicated to our hearts by our saviour and friend.
Because Jesus has reached out to us, in our mess and in our confusion, we hold his truth as central, disturbing our natural inclinations that would seek to promote our reasoning and our words. Our minds and our tongues now serve a King more powerful than all the reason in the wide world. That should give us lots to talk about.