The Allure of Gentleness
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When Christians share their faith, they often appeal to reason, logic, and the truth of doctrine. But these tactics often are not effective. A better approach to spread Christ’s word, Dallas Willard suggests, is to use the example of our own lives. To demonstrate Jesus’s message, we must be transformed people living out a life reflective of Jesus himself, a life of love, humility, and gentleness.
This beautiful model of life—this allure of gentleness—Willard argues, is the foundation for making the most compelling argument for Christianity, one that will convince others that there is something special about Christianity and the Jesus we follow.
From the Introduction
Finding real truth is the point of reference we share with all human beings. No one can live without truth. Though we may disagree about which particular things are true or false, allegiance to truth—whatever the truth may be—permits us to stand alongside every person as honest fellow inquirers. Our attitude is therefore not one of “us and them,” but of “we.” And we are forever here to learn together, not only to teach.
So, if at all possible—sometimes it is not, due to others—we “give our account” in an atmosphere of mutual inquiry animated by generous love. However firm we may be in our convictions, we do not become overbearing, contemptuous, hostile, or defensive. We know that Jesus himself would not do so, because we cannot help people in that way. He had no need of it, nor do we. And in apologetics, as everywhere, he is our model and our master. Our confidence is totally in him. That is the “special place” we give him in our hearts—how we “in [our] hearts sanctify Christ as Lord” (1 Pet. 3:15) —in the crucial service of apologetics.
And that is why our apologetic needs to be characterized by gentleness. Like Jesus, we are reaching out in love in a humble spirit with no coercion. The only way to accomplish that is to present our defense gently, as help offered in love in the manner of Jesus.