Have you ever been in the situation where you arrive home from work and can’t remember how you got there? There is no recollection of the turns you made, lanes you changed, the intersections you stopped at or even the pedestrians you waited for while they walked across the road in front of you.
This is called being in a state of “unconscious competence”. In other words, you are so familiar with what you are doing, you are not even aware of doing it. Many would say this is a good state to be in, but when you think about it, driving home in an unconscious state means you are also not aware of the potentially dangerous mistakes you made!
Part of the privilege I have in having Ken [AiG-USA president] as my older (much, much older!) brother, is that from a very young age I have come under his influence concerning God’s Word. I have always understood it to be authoritative from the very first verse. I have also learned and re-learned answers to questions that so many people in our world have today about the Bible and the Christian faith.
One of my faults, however, is that I have become at times “unconsciously competent” in using my knowledge and training in creation evangelism, and as a result I have no doubt missed opportunities to help people answer questions that are blocking them from having a relationship with Christ. Let me explain using an example.
The Lord helped me to understand this in a powerful way just the other day. In my work as a financial planner, I sublet premises in an office to an accounting firm. I was having the familiar Monday morning conversation about how the weekend was, when one of the two staff I was talking with said she had a fight with her parents about Christianity. She told her parents the Bible couldn’t possibly be true because the whole world could not be populated from a base of two people without a mass of genetic deformity and impairment handed down to the generations that followed. She was, of course, referring to genetic incompatibility with close relations.
In other words, she was asking the question, “Where did Cain, the son of Adam and Eve, get his wife?”
Her parents sadly didn’t have an answer for her, and she was therefore maintaining that the whole Bible is nonsense. In fact, she was told that Adam and Eve were just two selected people as an example in history. Knowing I am a Christian, the other staff member then entered the conversation and asked how come there is no mention of dinosaurs in the Bible and then posed other questions related to the age of humanity and carbon dating.
I answered the questions (of which all are dealt with very well in AiG’s The Answers Book), and then we had a discussion about biases and how they have been taught the theory of evolution as a fact. Both were very interested and wanted to continue the discussion. In fact, they sought me out and I was worried about keeping them from their work while they asked to talk longer instead of billing their clients for time. The most sobering statement was made when one of them said, “So you believe the Bible totally and therefore you think heaps of people are going to hell?”
What an opportunity! I was able to say “yes” to that question. I replied, sadly, that because of our own doing, we all deserve to go to hell. We (in Adam) ruined a perfectly created world. I was also able to say that because literal biblical history has no discrepancy with physical evidence, I am able to put complete faith in the rest of the Bible being true. I don’t have a blind faith but a faith that is based on real substance. That means that while justice demands people will go to hell, it also means that those who accept God’s mercy through Jesus will just as surely be in heaven. If the Bible is true and hell is true, then so is heaven. These things I explained and they listened. Mouths open and stunned, they just sat there taking it all in.
After the conversation, I came back and started asking myself some questions: How many more people want to ask questions about Christianity and yet find nobody to ask? How many more people ask questions and yet get no answer? How many people in our churches just wouldn’t have a clue as to how to answer questions about Cain’s wife, dinosaurs, carbon dating and so on? How many more people are searching the internet, reading the paper, listening to radio shows and watching the television desperate for an answer? Then it hit me: how long have my friends at work wanted to ask me these questions?
And then the question that hit me the hardest … what is the point of knowing the answers and walking around unconsciously keeping them in my head?
I have resolved no longer to be “unconsciously competent” when it comes to God’s truth. We are to be consciously competent. In the forefront of our minds, there needs to be a deep concern for the unanswered questions of those who need to know Christ.
Unconsciousness is paramount to selfishness. How dare we keep our Saviour to ourselves.
Editor’s note: For some excellent practical tips on how to share your faith more effectively in this secular, scientific age, read the book by Stephen Ham’s brother, Ken, entitled Why Won’t They Listen?
Steve Ham (CFP DipFp) is the director and founder of Growth Point Financial Ministries Ltd. [GPFM], an Australian charitable organization offering biblically based financial education and advice in helping people honour God with their financial planning. All profits from the Growth Point advice service go to the mission and ministry of the Christian church.
The main aim of GPFM is to glorify God by helping people to place their faith in Him rather than a short-term materialistic world while receiving one-on-one practical advice in a biblical approach to the whole realm of financial planning needs. 1st Timothy 6:6 godliness plus contentment is Great Gain.