I love theology and doctrine. I have a Ph.D. because I enjoy studying “why we believe what we believe.” But the truth is – except for very few cases – we connect with people not on the intelligence of our argument, but because they see the message working in our lives. C.S. Lewis is said to have come to Christ after intellectually weighing the alternatives and coming to the conclusion that Christianity was the best answer. Others like my friend Lee Strobel made similar decisions. But the truth is, most people don’t take the time or effort to connect the factual dots in a similar fashion. They believe, because they see it working in someone’s life. As Rick Warren said with respect to evangelism, “It’s about deeds, not creeds.”
How else can you explain people who follow heresy, mistakes, and outright bad belief?
For instance, I have close friends who are Mormons. I love these guys. Our kids went to school together. But I can’t help but think that if they really examined the core positions of the Mormon faith, they would re-think why they believe. But they don’t, because they didn’t become Mormon because of an intellectual search, but because of emotional, family, or other relationships. I even had one Mormon friend tell me privately, “I know the Mormon faith doesn’t make a lot of sense from a historic or intellectual point of view, but I converted because I loved how strong their families were, and I wanted to experience that.”
Some ministries are obsessed with “the defense of the gospel” and apologetics. (The web is full of these sites.) And I don’t minimize their importance. But if we’re going to impact the culture today, we won’t do it by telling people what they’re doing wrong, or by connecting intellectual principles, we’ll do it by showing with our lives that we’re doing it right.
Particularly in a post-modern culture, your life is more influential than the facts.
Live the way you want people to believe. Tell the story better, and live it out. As Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”