The Greatest Apologetic Argument Ever Made

A couple of years ago I believe the greatest, most effective apologetic argument ever made in the history of the universe was spoken in my presence.


Which, of course, would lead you to legitimately and understandably ask why I have withheld it from you, my faithful and loyal readers, for lo these many months.


The answer is because, even though I witnessed the entire event, I was unaware of its magnitude and significance until I had pondered it for all this time.


It occurred at my in-laws home. I do not remember the time of year. There were many family members present ranging in age from infant to elderly. I was sitting at the dining room table. My mother-in-law was sitting immediately to my left (as she always is) and there were a variety of pre-teen nieces and nephews also at the table, along with my lovely wife, sitting directly across the table from me. (Again, as she always does.)


I believe at the time I was regaling the assorted relatives with some mission trip event wherein Jesus had changed someone’s life when one of the nieces (probably age 11 or so) shyly looked in my direction and said something to the effect of, “There are people in my school who say there is no God and Jesus is not real.”


I’m not sure if my mouth dropped open or not, but I distinctly remember a thousand thoughts rushing through my mind in a single second as I desperately tried to form all the theology, hermeneutics, apologetics and whatever else I could in the deep recesses of my soul into a coherent statement that would effectively refute such an obviously false and heretical statement.


And, while my brain, which is always supposed to be ready with a gentle and respectful answer as to in whom my hope is found (1 Peter 3:15) was still sputtering and misfiring, my mother-in-law (without skipping a beat) looked over at the young child and said,


“You know they’re full of beans, dontcha?”


The child grinned one of those, shy, precious, simple smiles and said, “Yeah.”


And all was once again right with the world.


My mother-in-law has never been to seminary. She is not a deaconess or a holder of high rank in her church. (She has served cake at a funeral before.) And, although she does listen to and support Kinship Christian Radio, she has not been on 27 mission trips, has not published a book, does not record podcasts, has never participated in street-corner evangelism in an inner-city slum, and has not ministered to lepers in the streets of Calcutta. But what she has done is love well.


She is a real Christian. 


And that’s why what she said to my niece, her grandchild, was the greatest apologetic argument ever made. For all of that child’s life, grandma has been nothing but love. Every time. Consistently, without fail for all the years of that child’s life, grandma has not just symbolized the love of Jesus, she has been the physical embodiment of the unconditional, whole-hearted love Jesus –the kind of love we should all embody.


Yes, that’s hard. When it comes to our co-workers, people in traffic, people on social media, even my own family, I often fail miserably. It’s hard to love other people, but Jesus really is the answer. The image of the cross infinitely and indelibly speaks that into all that is humanity even more powerfully and eloquently than my mother-in-law’s full bean statement.


So, I guess I will have to change my mind and say that mom-in-law’s statement was not the greatest apologetic statement ever made because clearly the cross takes first place.


I’m still giving mom-in-law second place and I’m pretty sure she’s gonna be okay with that.


If not, I guess I’m the one who’s full of beans.


Today’s Praise 

May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ. 2 Thessalonians 3:5 (NLT)



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