Conversational Apologetics

by Michael Ramsden

We live in cultures that are filled with unanswered questions. To many, there is so much confusion that they stop looking for answers. What can we learn from Jesus’ interaction with other people, and how can that help us in sharing the Gospel today?

Now, the one thing you have to know about me before I start is that I’m basically an evangelist-apologist. My natural tendency is to slip into preaching and then to ask you to give your lives to Christ. That’s my basic expository style – normally to take any passage of Scripture and start making a line for the cross, which I normally find isn’t such a bad idea. Within those limitations, please bear with me. Part of what I want to do this afternoon is to make you think, and very deliberately I see that as part of what we even do as an organization – to try to get people to think. As I do that, if I start to speak so quickly that the time disappears to the point whereby there is no time for you to actually think anymore, just wave at me, I’ll know you’re not saying “Hello!” and I’ll remember to breathe. I might happen to get very excited when I talk about the gospel and my speed increases. And since we’ll be looking at how we might begin to share the gospel in a culturally relevant way in a conversational context, which I have a huge passion for, I get so excited that you may feel you need translation into English. And so, please do wave and I’ll remember to breathe. My mother is in Cyprus, I was raised in the Middle East and passion is just part of my general makeup and I apologize for that right up front.

Now let me try to introduce what I would like to share with you, and then we’re going to spend a lot of time in Scripture, and having done that I’m going to try asking you to give me some questions so we can begin to practically apply some of the things we’ve been talking about.

Let me start with a personal recollection. About six and a half to seven years ago, I was already involved in travelling and preaching as part of the Zacharias Trust, which is the European arm of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. I was going to speak somewhere, and I was in desperate need of a haircut. I happened to walk to the end of the road I lived in, in a small town in North Nottinghamshire called Worksop. I came to the end of the street and there was a hairdresser’s there, and I walked in and said, “Help, I need a haircut.

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The lady who was running this shop, called Belinda’s, pulled out an appointment book and said, “Well, when do you want a haircut?

Well, today…

She looked at me blankly and said, “Well…” then she looked at her watch and said, “Okay, I think I might just be able to fit you in, but I’ll have to be quick.

I said, “That’s no problem, I just need a haircut.”

So I sit down in the chair and she comes up and she puts one of those aprons and a towel around me. She goes off; she picks up a pair of scissors and a comb; she starts walking back to where I’m sitting. She stands behind me, then she turns to the lady cutting hair next to her, and she says, “My business is doing so well, but there must be more to life than this.”

That’s a dangerous thing to say in front of someone who considers himself to be an evangelist. I caught her eye in the mirror and said, “What you say is very true. In life, we’re not made happy by what we acquire but by what we appreciate.”

She just stopped and stared at me and said, “What did you just say?

I said, “In life, you’re not made happy by what you acquire but by what you appreciate.”

She walked off, came back with a pad of paper and a pen, and said, “Could you say that one more time?

And so she wrote it down, put down the pad of paper, put down the pen, picked up the comb and scissors, and said, “I think that is very true.” So she seemed to be interested.

So then I just said, “But if you ask me, the problem we have today is not that people feel they have nothing to be grateful for, it’s that they feel they have no one to be grateful to.”

And at this point, she put down the comb and the scissors, picked up the pad of paper and the pen, and said, “Could
you say that again?

Now it took her an hour and fifteen minutes to cut my hair. I do not have a one-hour-and-fifteen-minute-hairstyle. As a matter of fact, I don’t even have style; as you can see, all I have is hair…

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