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The Objection

Have you ever been in conversation with someone about faith and ran face first into an objection they have? Maybe the objection is about the bible or about one of the stories in the bible. Maybe it has to do with the trinity, or the age of the Earth, or the probability of getting all of the animals on the ark. Oh right, and what about the dinosaurs?

Our tendency in these moments is to respond to the objection with answers or proofs that the objections can be overcome. While it is important to know what we believe, why we believe it, and how to talk about it, sometimes providing proof against someone's objection does nothing more than start a fight. It also creates an argument or a discussion about a secondary conversation. It removes the focus from what truly matters. Let me give you an example from the bible.

John 1:43-46
43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”
44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.

Notice what happens here. Philip encounters Jesus, and can't help but tell his friend, Nathanael, about him. Philip makes a huge cultural statement by calling Jesus "the one Moses wrote about". The expectations on the one Moses wrote about are massive! Philip is making some pretty big statements about a man from Nazareth that was stirring the religious pot. Nathanael doesn't believe Philip. Nathanael completely ignores Philips claim about who Jesus is. Instead, he rejects Philip's claim based on the fact that Jesus is from Nazareth.  He objects to Philip's claim that Jesus is "the one".

Philip has a choice to make. Should he choose to prove that something good can in fact come from Nazareth? Should Philip explain that, while Jesus' parents lived in Nazareth now, He was actually born in Bethlehem which is where "the one" was said to be born? Or should Philip take a different approach? Let's look at his response:

The Invitation

John 1:46
46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.
Come and see,” said Philip.

Philip's response was not to prove Nathanael wrong, but to introduce him to Jesus. Look what happens when Nathanael meets Jesus for the first time:

John 1:49

47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”
48 “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.
Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
49 Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”

Nathanael, only after his own experience with Jesus, came to the conclusion that Jesus was who Philip said he was. Philip proving to him that his objections weren't enough, wouldn't have done it. Having all the answers isn't what brought us to faith either. Having answers helps us to continue to learn more about who God is and allows us to align our lives, our decisions, words, and our actions with God's heart. But it was ultimately an encounter with the risen Jesus that brought us to faith.

There are some situations where in invitation to come and see, is much more powerful than a well-put-together answer to an objection. Even Jesus himself modeled this. When Jesus was asked a question, more often than not he asked a question back and invited that person to walk with Him through life. Jesus invited people to explore faith and to engage with God and with His people. Should we know answers to the hard questions? Should we study and learn more about God and His word? Should we be ready to give a reason for the hope that we have? Yes, yes, and yes! But our response to an objection should always be an invitation to those who are far from God, to come and see who Jesus is. Our goal and our intent should be to introduce those around us to Him.