J.R.R. Tolkien titled his classic work The Hobbit, or There and Back Again. While I’m not a hobbit, I did go “there and back again” recently: I flew to Guatemala for a week and then returned to the good ol’ U.S. of A.
Before I go any further, I want to tell you all not to worry: this blog is not going to change its focus from Apologetics to “whatever Caleb is doing at this particular moment in his life.” But since I did lead in to my Guatemala trip with some reflections on how missions relates to Apologetics, I figured I shouldn’t leave all of you hanging and wondering how the trip went. So, I promise this will be the last article about myself for a while. I’ll get back to “pure” Apologetics next time.
Back on The Hobbit, Bilbo ended his trip very ready to rest. But my team and I returned fired up for God’s mission in the world! We want to continue making an impact, right here in Little Rock. Calling a missions trip “life-changing” is cliché, but it truly was. I will live differently because I went.
Here’s why: the 30-40 people in the small local church/community we partnered with live on mission. They care deeply about the gospel and about making disciples of Jesus Christ, and are constantly involved in loving each other and loving those around them. Comparing my life to theirs, I want to follow their example right here at home as well as overseas. This trip helped me to see anew that our God is not the God of America, but of the whole world.
So what does this have to do with Apologetics? Three things.
- I hope it’s apparent in this past blog post or two that Apologetics does not exist in a vacuum. Apologetics is one part of our life, and that life is a holistic unit. We should always act in a manner consistent with what we proclaim inside the competitive Apologetics room. If we say that God has provided one way to himself through Jesus Christ, and that those who disbelieve that way will suffer everlasting torment, then our everyday life should reflect that reality. If we never share the gospel, if we never go (whether 10 miles or 10,000 miles) outside of our comfort zone to tell others the message about Jesus, then our lives betray our creedal confession. We may still believe the truth, but we’re not acting upon it.
- Getting a bigger picture of God’s work in the world affects our Apologetics. Take the simple Category 4 question, “How can a man know God?” One verse that comes quickly to mind is John 3:16 (ESV): ““For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” I may have quoted that verse hundreds of times in my life, but I’ve never understood “For God so loved the world” like I do now after being in Guatemala.
- Apologetics is not just about abstract truth. It’s about truth in life. How should we live, since we have been given knowledge about Ultimate Reality? Many of the Analyze and Respond topics touch on these issues. How is living as a Christian different from living as an atheist, a pantheist, or a moralist? Feel free to share stories in Apologetics rounds to illustrate your answers. You don’t have to leave your individuality at the door—you should tell the judges how you personally have been impacted by the truths you’re declaring.
So that’s how my trip to Guatemala—and your personal experience too—relates to Apologetics.
I’m sure those of you who are visual would like to see some photos from the trip. I don’t have a smartphone (I affectionately call mine a “dumb phone”), but lots of my teammates do. So I just stole their photos. 🙂
Here are just 3 photos to summarize the trip.
Photo 1: We spent time with 25 kids at a local school for 4 days, telling them about the love of Jesus and playing a lot of fútbol. Another part of my group taught teachers and parents how to disciple their kids.
Photo 3: we spent a day in beautiful Antigua, admiring the city and buying souvenirs to take home.