An open Bible and a cup of coffee.

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”
John 15:5

The largest cruise ship in the world (at the time of this writing) is the Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas. This colossal vessel is 1,188 feet long, 215 feet wide, and weighs 236,857 tons. Incredibly, the ship can accommodate nearly 7,000 passengers! Imagine you are on the deck of this gigantic ship, far out at sea, when you suddenly spot a man floundering in the ocean below. Your first instinct is to do something to help the man, to prevent his drowning. In the heat of the moment, you might be tempted to jump in after him. This of course would be a huge mistake if you did not first tether yourself to the ship. Without a lifeline to something safe and stable, you’d quickly find yourself in need of rescue as well. This whole scenario is analogous to the Christian’s attempts at reaching the lost with the Gospel. Many a well-meaning apologists have attempted to reach the lost by “jumping into the sea” with them. That is, in their attempts to defend the faith, they have agreed to set aside their Christian presuppositions and to “just follow the evidence (scientific, philosophical, historic) where it leads.” The problem of course is that neutrality is impossible. We either take God’s word as basic, reliable, and foundational to all of our thinking or we do not. “He that is not with me is against me;” said the Lord, “and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad” (Matthew 12:30). Setting aside our Christian faith in order to defend our faith is as foolish as jumping into the water with the floundering man. Untethered from the ship, we are as doomed as the man we are trying to save. Untethered from God, we are as foolish as the people we are trying to evangelize. “Answer not a fool according to his folly,” says the proverb, “lest thou also be like unto him” (Proverbs 26:4). We simply cannot “jump overboard” and join the non-believer in assuming faith commitments that lead to uncertainty, doubt, and thoroughgoing skepticism. As in the case of the drowning man, we can “jump in” after the lost only if we remain tethered to the Lord. That is, we can assume, temporarily and for the sake of argument only, his worldview in order to show him the foolishness and futility of it, both intellectually and morally. As the proverb goes on to tell us, “Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit” (Proverbs 26:5). We should, clearly but cordially, point out the internal inconsistencies of the non-Christian worldview. Once the point is well-made, we can then invite non-believers to come with us “back to the ship,” where, in an environment of safety and stability, they can establish friendships with others “on board.”

God bless you all, my fellow “shipmates!”

Pastor John