Experience AND Evidence
The great thing about having a blog is that you can use it on Monday to clear up stuff you said on Sunday.
If you were at our Brier Creek AM Campus yesterday, you know that some yahoo took over the stage while J.D. was hanging out at our Cole Mill and West Club campuses. This particular yahoo (okay, it was me) talked about the fact that experience – our personal story of coming to Christ – should always be supplemented with evidence – the objective foundation of scripture.
I had a great conversation after the 10:45 service with one of our college students, who told me that she frequently uses her coming-to-Christ story as a witnessing tool to her friends, and unless I clarified my statement she was going to take a sledgehammer to my kneecaps.
Editor’s Note: That’s not really what she said. She was going to use a rubber mallet.
Here’s what experience vs. evidence looks like when we’re going with our personal stories: both of them are incredibly important. While it’s true that someone could argue with your personal experience, the chances of that happening decrease proportionally as your personal relationship with that person increases. In other words, it’s much easier for me to argue with your experience if I don’t know you all that well. It becomes more difficult to argue with you if you’re a family member, a roommate, or a sorority sister. (Please note that I’ve never had nor have I been a sorority sister…just play along with the illustration, okay?)
However, as in all of our stories, we give them more credence if we supplement them with evidence. “This is what happened to me…and this is what scripture says about it.”
On the flip side, there are people in your circle of influence who would give more weight to your story than to scripture…and yet God can use your story to help them begin to trust the Bible.
Can God use your personal story? Of course he can. Scripture is full of stories that – when they happened – weren’t scripture yet. They were recorded for us later, but when they happened they were simply personal stories of God interacting with and intervening on behalf of people.
Can God use scripture to supplement your personal story? Certainly. When you point people to the verse in Romans that God used to get your attention, or you direct them to the gospel of John, which you were reading as you were wrestling with the truth claims of Jesus, I believe God will combine the two and use them in a powerful way to bring your friends to Christ.