Several years ago my husband and I hosted a renowned physicist in our home and invited friends to learn about how science points to — rather than conflicts with – God. Can you say, “Par-tay”? Dr. Michael Strauss, author of The Creator Revealed: A Physicist Examines the Big Bang and the Bible, gave an incredible presentation about science pointing directly to the Creation story in Genesis 1 and 2. My husband and I invited some of our very sciency (this term assures you that I am not) friends and some of our friends who are theologians – the kind that always go back to the original Greek or Hebrew for even “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). While that may not sound like the most fun group ever assembled, let me assure you, it was lit (as the kids say).
As hostess, I often surveyed the room to see if my guests needed anything. What I saw were all eyes fixed on Dr. Strauss, people taking copious notes, and mental wheels turning with the data being presented. Everyone was hanging on his every word. After Dr. Strauss’s presentation he took questions from the audience. There were great questions about all that had been presented, but the last question (and answer), I will never forget.
The question came from a man I would describe as a pastor, theologian, and an all-around wise man who has spent his life serving the Lord and discipling Christians in their faith. This presentation was right up his alley. Absorbing and synthesizing all the information given, this man asked Dr. Strauss, “With all that you know about science and Creation and all that you are able to explain as a physicist, what is the ONE THING you have seen turn someone from a non-believer to someone who is at least interested in knowing more about God?” The room gave off a collective “Ohhhhh, good question…” vibe, and everyone – pens and journals in hand – readied to write down the formula for the information that moves someone from unbelief to willingness to investigate the God of the universe.
The anticipation was palpable. You could literally hear a pin drop as Dr. Strauss took a moment to ponder, inhale, and then speak. We braced for the information we would now be privy to through the decades-long work of this renowned physicist. This would be a game changer for us all, we just knew it. Dr. Strauss’s shoulders relaxed, and his face softened as he said, “The one thing I’ve seen that has changed even the most staunch opponent to the possibility of God is… love.”
We were ready for Dr. Strauss, to well, Strauss us. We were waiting for an answer that only a physicist could provide. That’s not what we received. He continued, “I have seen scientists I’ve debated for years ready to discuss God only after their child has been diagnosed with a terminal illness and my wife and I have shown up at their door to be there for them during their darkest moments.” Pens rested. Guests reclined from the edge of their seats.
Strauss resumed, “All the best data and winning arguments pale in comparison to showing a love that is not of this world. It is displaying God’s love that leads other people to investigate Him, and it is the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives.” I was at once relieved that I wouldn’t have to bring out a white board and diagram complex mathematical equations, but also challenged to know I already have everything I need to make the case for Christ. This unfathomably intelligent physicist and the rest of us were all of a sudden on equal footing at the foot of the cross.
The weight of the room shifted. This gathering of science-savvy theologians exhaled like the mystery to life’s biggest riddle had just been solved – and it was in plain site the whole time. We don’t have to display full understanding of the cosmos to draw people to Christ. The Gospel, for all of us, begins and ends with love (see also 1 Corinthians 12:1-3).
It was quite a realization for us all – Dr. Strauss debated scientists who were sure there was no God, he showed them all the scientific proof he had, but it was the seeds sown in love that piqued their interest in a Divine Creator.
We tend to believe we just need to work harder and study more to bring people into a saving faith. And don’t get me wrong, those are good things. But it really isn’t even up to us at all. It’s fully up to God, we need only be faithful. This is what Paul – the Paul who was inspired by God to write most of the New Testament, first-generation church-planter Paul, the same Paul who took the gospel to everyone he encountered – said this about leading others to Christ: “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow…. For we are co-workers in God’s service…” (1 Corinthian 3:6-9). Paul, with his incredible resume and experience, said his role in bringing people to Christ was merely to plant seeds.
As a Christian, my first order is not to make the most scientific argument or master Christian apologetics in order to “make people believe”. Instead, it is to share with others only out of the tremendous overflow of my relationship with Jesus the love He has lavished on us. The rest is fully up to Him.
Dear Lord, I pray that we would stop trying to outwork You and Your plans for others. We try to complicate sharing our faith when You have made it so easy. May we be faithful in planting seeds, but clear that only You make the seed grow. Let us be faithful to know You and reflect Your love to others. Maranatha! Amen.