Apologetics, evangelism and mission – at their best when entwined
GUEST BLOGGER | Krish Kandiah
For those who believe in the power of preaching, or who love the life of the mind, it is common to believe that evangelism consists of first and foremost, a clear verbal or written presentation of the gospel. While I do not disagree with this overall statement, I believe that evangelism works best when connected with action. Jesus is crystal clear in Matthew 5:16 – “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Compassionate service or good deeds are essentially a window into the kingdom and a demonstration of the character of God. Within Jesus’ ministry there was a commitment to living and proclaiming the gospel. Too often, we, the church, try to separate the good news of the gospel from the good deeds of the gospel. But why separate out things that Jesus joined together? He, himself, went “around doing good” (Acts 10.38) and proclaiming the Kingdom of God. If anyone could have merely used words to preach the kingdom, it would have been Jesus. He, however, demonstrated the good news through his compassion and kindness as well as the miracles he performed what the kingdom is. Wherever churches seek to only do word-based ministry or only deed-based ministry we have a problem – we create dualism. Our ministry, like Jesus’, should be both word and deed.
We can do this, for example, by caring for the most vulnerable. By doing so, we point to God the Father, the “protector of widows and the fatherless.” ( Psalm 68) It is through serving in this way that we can publicly demonstrate the love of God. When we live out the Lord’s call it provides opportunities to explain why.
Personally, my wife and I have experienced what this can look like. We have seven children between 19 years old and 11 months of age, three of which were born to us, the others are either adopted or fostered. Our life and our family choices are conversation openers. When people ask about why we choose to adopt or foster, we will often share about the gospel, especially the idea that we have been adopted into God’s family and how we want to pass on the grace and compassion we have received from God on to others.
1 Peter 3:15 is probably the most famous proof text used to talk about persuasive evangelism, or what is sometimes called “apologetics”, when we are told to always “be prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks us for a reason for the hope that is in you.” But the context of the passage is that we must repay evil with blessing, be eager to do good and set apart Christ as our Lord. In other words, following Christ’s example we will live provocative lives of service and blessing towards our non-Christian neighbours and colleagues and that will prompt them to ask us about our hope—and then we will be able to share with them the reasons why we believe what we believe. On a daily basis, I will meet someone who asks me to explain who is in my family. As a Christian I have experienced incredible hospitality and grace from God and all I am doing is passing that on. The opportunity to do so is never far away. Apologetics is part and parcel of evangelism and needs to be rooted in every-day life, not become inaccessible theory.
As people ask us why we do what we do, and as we tell stories of amazing things that Christian families around the UK are doing it helps the charity I founded: “Home for Good” gain a hearing in front of people of influence. The incredible hospitality Christians are providing to vulnerable children opens doors to talk to political leaders, cultural influencers, academics and social workers, people who might otherwise not come to a church-based event. We are to demonstrate social good as Jeremiah says (Jeremiah 29:7) “But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” We need to live radically generous and hospitable lives in front of a watching world. In 1 Peter 2:12 the apostle urges his listeners to “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honourable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” We must speak the truth, but we must live it as well. The two are not exclusive, rather they are complementary.
“Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honourable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”
I was walking my daughter home from school a while back and she said to me: “I am double adopted, aren’t I, Dad? I have been adopted into the Kandiah family but also into God’s family.” Let’s work so a world that a world in need can see and taste the love of God right here and now and hopefully turn to God and be part of His Kingdom forever.
Krish Kandiah will be leading a seminar at the Keswick Convention 2018 on “Sent to the public square” on Thursday of week three. The Convention runs from 14 July – 3 August 2018. The event is free of charge. For more details go to: www.keswickministries.org.
Krish is the founding director of ‘Home For Good’, a young charity seeking to make a real difference in the lives of vulnerable children by finding loving homes for children in the care system. He is an advocate for fostering and adoption. He writes regularly for Christianity Today, Christian Today and has recently been published in the Times of London. Krish is a regular broadcaster on BBC Radio 4 and Radio 2 and is demand as a speaker at both national and international conferences he recently spoke to a full house at TEDxOxford on the topic “Can Hospitality Change the World?”
Krish has published a number of books including:
- Home for Good
- God is a Stranger
His latest book, Faitheism unpacks the idea of life-style apologetics and how we, as Christians, can collaborate with society will be released in July 2018 and will be available at the Keswick Convention.