I was working as an EMT when the call came in: 88 year old female, diabetic complications, history of kidney failure. Edna had been calling for help several times over the last week. I, personally, had not met her yet, but others on the crew knew her well. Upon arrival Edna had shallow breathing, she was sweating profusely yet still had her famous southern charm. After some initial patient care, the time came to transport. Municipal hospital was 3.7 miles away.
Within minutes of departure, though, Edna began to complain; “You’re going the wrong way.” Having grown up in the area, I knew this wasn’t true. “We are on the fastest route”, I assured her. Edna still protested. All the facts I could muster would not change her mind.
I transported Edna 15 more times that year. We became great friends—I even attended her funeral. No matter how many times Edna and I rode to the hospital together, every time we took the straight route–the ‘right way’–I knew she would complain, at least at first.
I now know why. A co-worker of mine was the first person to transport Edna. Both unfamiliar with the area, and extremely personable, my partner simultaneously earned Edna’s trust and set a standard that was not ideal. Edna based her truth on her experience with my winsome partner. Facts did not matter. At least not at first.
After Edna and I got to know each other, Edna learned to trust me. The route I offered was smoother, faster, and more enjoyable. The facts substantiated the experience. But the facts were secondary. It took a long time for me to recognize this.
I believe all the facts point to Jesus; not only that, these minimal facts are hard to reconcile. Dead people don’t just rise from the dead. It’s hard for me to understand why anyone would reject something so substantially proven. However, starting from the facts may actually be counter-productive for the apologist. It seems, in this regard, that facts don’t matter. At least not at first. First, we should start with an inquisitive first date apologetic.
“Seek first to understand before being understood”
Edna showed me that relationships ought to be our first priority. When we openly and honestly treat people as…well…people, we open the door to discovering the God who also prioritizes relationship with us.
Fact: For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believed in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
That’s a fact evidenced by the authority of the one who said it. But that doesn’t matter. At least not at first. First, you need to meet Jesus. Build a relationship, establish sincerity. Then, and only then, will the facts substantiate the experience.