Weighing scaleA bad stock tip and the stock market crash left Mani with a debt twice his annual salary. He had to sell his car, and a small food business that he had. He also had to put off his wedding.

Mani turned back to God. Than the miracles began to happen. His debt is now more than half gone. He has since married and is now the proud father of a one-year-old daughter. He has seen a vision of God during worship. He is happy.

Mani is a Hindu.

Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Christians do not have the corner on miracles and blessings. The above account about Mani was taken from the article entitled “Back to the Fold” from the October 12, 2000 issue of the FAR EASTERN ECONOMIC REVIEW. The article documented a fresh resurgence of religious faith in Asia that the writer attributed to the rapid social and economic changes now taking place in the region. Followers of all sorts of religions were ‘rediscovering’ God and reporting supernatural experiences.

The fact that Christianity does not have the corner on religious experiences should make us think twice about using testimonies of supernatural encounters with God as our main apologetic for the veracity of the Christian faith. After all, very similar experiences are reported by adherents of other faiths.

Now I happen to believe that our God is a mighty and miracle doing God. The God who parted the Red Sea and who raised Jesus from the dead is the same true God who is alive and working in the world today.

Indeed I despair that certain quarters of the church have been so influenced by an anti-supernatural scientific mindset that they no longer expect God to work in great and mighty ways. When such people see a burning bush they would probably call the fire brigade.

I am not at all challenging the fact that our God is a miracle doing God and that we should be open to Him doing great and mighty things in our midst.I am also not against the practice of giving public testimonies of our encounters with God and the miracles we have received from Him.

I am just concerned that this type of testimonies do not become our only or even our main way of testifying to the truthfulness of the gospel message and the reality of YHWH.In the post-modern world everyone is getting experiences! Every faith has their own X-Files.

How then should we contend for the faith in this day and age? Let me suggest two ways.

1. Be Authentic.

A recent article in the HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW listed the qualities needed in exceptional leaders for the new millennium. Authenticity was way up on the list. Exceptional leaders of today were expected to be willing to reveal their weaknesses and to be honest with their team members.

In a world where people are becoming increasingly cynical, fakes will not be tolerated. And integrity will stand out. That means we must walk our talk. It also means that when we blow it we must be willing to own up to it. We must not hide or downplay our failures. Instead we must say that our God is a God of grace who loves and accepts us as we are. We must be honest.

We need to relook at books like 2 Corinthians where Paul demonstrates for us a brutal honesty. And replicate that honesty in our lives.

2. Be Relational

A long time ago, Francis Schaeffer reminded us that love was the ”final apologetic”. He pointed us to verses like John 17: 21.

“May they all be one, just as Father, you are in me and I am in you, so that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that it was you who sent me.”

Deep relationships between Christians that overflow into the world testify to the reality of Jesus.

We cannot run away from the fact that we were created relational beings. In a fast changing world so much energy and attention is taken up with adapting and surviving. Relationships are neglected. There is such a hunger for genuine relationships in the world today. Ironically many churches are becoming less relational. Adopting a more business paradigm for church life, they are becoming more concerned for goals, objectives and other indicators of verifiable success.

Authentic relationships are untidy. They don’t function on the basis of fixed timetables. They need time to develop. And they need to happen if we are to give evidence to the world that the triune relational God is indeed the one true God.

I really feel sorry for Michael Chang. When he was at the peak of his tennis career, he publicly gave glory to God for his success as indeed he should. At that point he became the poster boy of many Christian groups. Basically the message that came across was: “God is great! God is true! See, He can enable a short Chinese guy play world beating tennis.”

But Chang’s career is clearly in the doldrums today. I no longer hear him mentioned in Christian circles. What happened? Is the God of Michael Chang no longer true? Is He no longer capable of helping Michael win major tournaments?

Perhaps a more powerful message would be sent if we are willing to admit that we do not know why God sometimes chooses to bless us with earthly success. We are grateful when He does but our faith is based on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15).

And whether Michael wins or lose he is our dear brother and we value him deeply and are still rooting for him.

We should continue to share when God does great and mighty works in our midst.

But if we are serious about doing apologetics in the 21st century we must take a long hard look at authenticity and relationships