We don’t prove that Christ is real by philosophical argumentation, although that may help our minds sort out what we already believe. Philososphy can only show us why there must be a God, why we continue to exist, but it cannot give us an experience of God. And only our experience of Christ changes us, which is also our greatest witness that He’s real and very much alive.
Here’s a verse I was thinking about this morning.
6 For the reality of the truth of Christ is seen among you and strengthened through your experience of him. (1 Cor.1:6 TPT)
What Paul is saying is that we prove that Christ is real to others by our changed life. By the reality of our ongoing transformation.
I remember when I first got saved back in 1978. I was 20-something, very happy and satisfied as a full-time musician in Texas living the “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” lifestyle. But when I experienced the reality of Christ’s love for me for the first time, and accepted the invitation into His life, I threw away my drugs and left this life because I felt something I never knew before. Complete love, acceptance, affirmation, and fullness of joy! I had found what I was always looking for and didn’t even it know it!
I also remember one of my band mates reaction to my “finding Jesus.” One I distinctly remember was my car ride to a gig with the bass player and turning down his offer to do some drugs we always did together. I remember the bewildered look on his face when I told him why, because he assumed I gave them up because he interpreted finding Jesus with “finding religion.” I actually laughed at the thought since I’ve never been any good at religion (still not!). My still immature, yet intuitive response was that I didn’t stop because I was supposed to quit but because I didn’t need them anymore.
At first, my close friends and family members ridiculed me for becoming one of those “Jesus freaks” (term used for hippies who got saved in the 70’s). Not that they weren’t all religious. Like me, most of them grew up Catholic. My older sister figured I was just going through another fad or phase and would quickly move on to something else as I had done many times before. But I didn’t. I kept growing in Christ…and I kept changing. Until, my family and friends didn’t make fun of my faith anymore.
In fact, a few years back, one of my former band mates asked me about my life in Christ and has since become a believer. (I wrote about this time in my post, “A dance for Paul” back in 2014. You can hear a clip of our old band there too!)
Of course, my point is that I didn’t influence my friends and family by making clever arguments for Christ. I influenced them by my changed life. As one classmate asked me at our 15-year High School class reunion, “What happened to you!” She could see the dramatice change in me. At the time, I hadn’t realized I changed that much. But one thing was certain: the change was Jesus.
Beloved, our greatest witness is not our clever words, and especially not our canned speeches for Christ. Our greatest witness is our changed life. It’s also our greatest defense. As Bill Johnson said, “A man who has an encounter is never at the mercy of a man with an argument.”
As we continually open our heart to Him, these encounters with God change our nature, our character, makes us more gracious and loving…more authentic to who God intended us to become. And He promises to do this very thing if we will but trust Him to do the changing in us. Paul goes on to say this about God’s work in our lives:
8 He will keep you steady and strong to the very end, making your character mature so that you will be found innocent on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is forever faithful and can be trusted to do this in you, for he has invited you to co-share the life of his Son, Jesus, the Anointed One, our King! (1 Cor.1:8-9 TPT)
This is what I call “the invitation process.” And when words are necessary, our history with Jesus will provide a ready defense for that hope that lives in us (1 Pet.3:15). He strengthens and empowers us to live this changed life. And people will notice.