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Love and the Intellectual Case for Christianity: Justin Brierley

with Justin Brierley | November 18, 2022
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How do we love people like Jesus did AND make an intellectual case for Christianity? Well, Justin Brierley from the massive international podcast "Unbelievable?" believes everyone, from a committed Christian to a committed atheist, needs to be able to explain and defend their worldview, but do so in a respectful and caring way...especially if you're a follower of Jesus.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Shelby Abbott

    Shelby Abbott is an author, campus minister, and conference speaker on staff with the ministry of Cru. His passion for university students has led him to speak at college campuses all over the United States. Abbott is the author of Jacked and I Am a Tool (To Help with Your Dating Life), Pressure Points: A Guide to Navigating Student Stress and DoubtLess: Because Faith is Hard. He and his wife, Rachael, have two daughters and live in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.

On Real Life Loading…, Shelby Abbott talks with Justin Brierley about loving people like Jesus did AND being able to make an intellectual case for Christianity.

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Love and the Intellectual Case for Christianity: Justin Brierley

With Justin Brierley
November 18, 2022
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Justin: What I've often heard people say is: “You know, wouldn't you have to investigate every religion in order to know which one is true?” And my view is: “No; it's more like having a bunch of keys. When I go to our church to unlock the door, there's quite a few different keys on a big key ring that I could try in the door. But once I found the correct one, and it unlocks the door, I don't then methodically go through all the others, just in case any of them opened the door too. I know I found the one that opens the door. I think it's the same with Christianity; you don't have to exhaustively research every religion or view of God out there to know that you found the correct key that opens the door.”

Shelby: Somewhat anxious—always authentic—this is Real Life Loading… I’m your host, Shelby Abbott. Our desire with this podcast is to help guide you toward the life-changing power of Jesus for relationships in a constantly-shifting culture. We're going to do that in a number of different ways. I've been doing that for the last 20 years in a campus ministry called Cru®. I've worked with college students for my entire career, and I love interacting with young people because I know the potential you have to change the world for the glory of Jesus. And that's what this podcast is all about. 

So today, my guest is Justin Brierley. He's the host of a podcast called Unbelievable? It's a podcast that gets people together from different sides—of a theological argument, or a believer and an atheist, or top thinkers from opposing perspectives—he puts them in a room together and has them dialogue with one another in a respectful and beneficial manner. It's incredible, and you should definitely check it out.

Justin himself is also a theologian and apologist, strongly defending the faith, but doing it in a clever and winsome way over the internet. He has a huge following with the Unbelievable? show, but also a pretty weighty number of followers on TikTok®. As of this recording, Justin has 250,000 followers and 2.3 million likes on TikTok.

Justin and I are going to talk today about how it's important to love people, like Jesus did, and be able to make an intellectual case for Christianity. He believes that everyone—from a committed Christian to a committed atheist—needs to be able to explain and defend their worldview. I think you're going to love our conversation, so let's hop into it.


Shelby: What feels most important to you more than ever right now?

Justin: I think what feels most important to me right now is reclaiming our confidence as Christians. I think a lot of Christians feel like they've had the confidence knocked out of them:

  • Firstly, by the new atheism that kind of was dominant for, you know, the first part of the 21st century.
  • And then more recently, by kind of just the culture wars, where I think a lot of Christians just don't know how to speak or what to say in response to lots of the ideological issues and battles that are going on around them. 

I think the combination of those two things has often left Christians feeling like they're uncertain of what to say/how to say it. But we have a great message to proclaim.

And so, for me, it's about finding our confidence again—doing it with grace and respectfulness—but that's ultimately, yes, where I would say the pressing need is. 

Shelby: Yes; and I'm not surprised by that answer—that's your bread and butter—and that's kind of where you live, and you serve the body of Christ really well in that area. I'm grateful for the work that you're doing. 

One of the things that I've heard—I've been doing college ministry for over 20 years now—and one of the things I hear quite a bit is: “Nobody”—I've heard this phrase several times—“Nobody's going to be argued into the kingdom of God.” Would you say that that's true?—or would you say that there's more of this, like, “Well, people can hear debate points, and they can hear convincing arguments; but ultimately, it's the Spirit of God who leads people to Himself”? 

How do you hold those things in tension, where you know that these kinds of conversations need to happen?

  • To the point that some people go: “Yes, no one's ever going to be argued into it, so let's just love people and show them a reflection of Christ.”
  • There's value to that; but at the same time, we do have an intellectual defense of the faith.

How do you hold those two things in tension?

Justin: Yes; well, I think it absolutely is about understanding that it's a both/and—that we shouldn't create a false dichotomy—between loving people and the kind of relational aspect of what it is to draw someone towards God and the intellectual side. Absolutely I think that, ultimately, I would agree with that statement: “No one gets argued into the kingdom of God.” But having said that, argument and evidence may play a significant role in why they decide to place their trust in Jesus; because God uses all kinds of means.

Now, for a lot of people, it won't necessarily be an intellectual journey towards Christianity: it'll be because of the faithful witness of friends; it'll be experiences of their own spiritual experiences, and so on. But for some people, they're just made up in a way where they need to kind of have answers to certain types of questions. I believe God is able to provide those answers. I think we have been gifted with this extraordinarily intellectually-robust faith that, both:

  • —has a philosophical edge to it, where there are good reasons to believe that God exists.
  • —scientific/historical: there are good reasons to believe that Jesus really was who He said He was and rose from the dead.

To that extent, I do believe that Christianity's perfectly equipped to answer skeptics’ objections. Now, will that mean that they kind of are/sort of have no recourse to anything other than saying, “Yes,” to Christianity?—well, of course not. There is always going to be another objection that someone can reach for. But overall, I think if you want what's on offer at the end of the road, as it were, if you want Jesus, then there's nothing, intellectually, stopping you from walking down that road. 

Apologetics—rather than forcing someone to walk down the road—is often, for me, much more about removing the roadblocks that might be in their way:

  • If someone has a question about: “Why does God allow suffering and evil?”—well, it might be that we can provide some helpful ways of understanding that and remove that block. 
  • If someone says, “But I've heard that, you know, Jesus never existed,” or “…there's no good evidence for the historicity of the Gospels,”—again, we can provide evidence to show why that's not true.

And but in the end—yes, the reason I say, “You can't argue someone into the kingdom of God,”—is that you have to want Jesus at the other end of the road, and that's an issue of the heart. And that's where I think we do have to pray, and we do have to love people, and we do have to kind of make them almost desire Christianity to be true.

If you don't want it to be true, you can always reach for another objection. But if there's something about that that captures your spirit, then I think that can be a very powerful thing when it's joined to the intellectual case for Christianity; that sense of, “This is making sense to me in my heart.” When you bring their heart and head together, that's an amazing combination; and that we've been gifted both, so we shouldn't try to separate them.

Sorry; that was a really long answer, Shelby; but yes, that's my perspective.

Shelby: No, it's really good. Yes, it's important to help people understand that. A lot of times, we want to draw these lines and say, “Pick a side; it's either this or this.” And you know, Jesus Himself was great at saying, “No, it's a both/and,” “It's not an either/or,”—not always, of course. Thanks for helping to unpack that.

You say that: “Everyone has a worldview that they need to explain and defend.” Why is that crucial to know before we start engaging in conversations with someone, who might label themself as a skeptic or, at least, someone who doesn't believe in God?

Justin: I think this was a really helpful thing for me to kind of realize, sort of early on, in hosting the Unbelievable? show; because I think I'd gone under the assumption—partly because that's what you are often told by skeptics—that as a Christian, I had all of the burden of proof on my shoulders: that I had to show why these strange beliefs about God existing, and heaven, and angels, and a spiritual world—that somehow it was on my shoulders to prove that all this stuff existed. The atheist/the skeptic was just kind of the normal person, who didn't have any of these beliefs, and was the sort of neutral bystander, waiting to be informed and to be persuaded of why Christianity is true. That puts a great amount of pressure on the shoulders of the Christian, because they feel like they have to do all the work.

But actually/what I discovered, actually, was that we all have a set of beliefs about reality. I have my beliefs as a Christian; but actually, most atheists I meet also have a certain set of beliefs about the way reality is. In particular, a lot of the atheists I began interviewing subscribe to something you could call physicalism or naturalism. Basically, it's a view that all that ultimately exists is—matter in motion, energy, the laws of nature—that everything is ultimately reducible to that. There is, in a sense, no supernatural dimension to life. 

The thing is that, while the atheist may/a lot of atheists may go through life thinking, “Well, that's perfectly obvious; isn't it?”; it's actually not obvious when you start to look at some of the conclusions that you start to draw from that/some of the consequences, if you like, of that particular worldview. Because when you actually look at the universe we live in, it seems to have some remarkable characteristics that fit better with my perspective as a Christian—that there is a God behind it—than this naturalist perspective that all that exists is matter in motion, just physical stuff basically arranged in complicated ways.

Because actually, the more we look at science and the nature of our universe, we see that actually it came from somewhere; that it appears to have had a beginning in time and space. That raises a huge question about: “What was the cause of that?”—when we look at the physical parameters of what it took to get life going, the fine tuning of the universe as it's sometimes called. We get all these extraordinary numbers, where the force of gravity, for instance, has to be accurate to a point of one part in ten to the sixty, which is a one with sixty zeros after it in order for life to be able to develop in the cosmos. You know, if it had been just a smidgen stronger, the universe would've collapsed back in on itself; a smidge weaker, and matter would've dissipated and no life. When you add all these things together, you start to ask: “Well, which worldview:

  • —the view that all that exists is matter in motion and everything's explained by that?
  • —or that there's a God behind it?—which better explains the evidence we actually have in front of us.” 

I started to realize Christianity actually is a more compelling story/more compelling explanation for a lot of the evidence that we actually look at, together, whether we are an atheist or a Christian.

And I then applied that to sort of other things: like the fact that, you know, as I said, we believe—don't we?—in human rights, human dignity, human value. Where did that come from? Again, I find it very hard to get a satisfactory explanation for why we should believe in that sort of thing on a purely atheist/naturalist worldview. It fits much better, in my view/with a Christian worldview that says, from Page 1, that humans were made in the image of God. Well, that gives humans inestimable value. I don't see why a purely naturalistic evolutionary account of our world would draw you to that conclusion. It feels like there's a bit of faith that most atheists need to be able to hold onto that conclusion that we/that humans do have this intrinsic value and dignity that pretty much all of my atheist friends believe we do. 

These were just a number of different ways in which I started to realize: “What you believe about the universe, and about life and reality, you need to defend that just as much as I need to defend my Christian faith.” And the question is: “Where does the evidence point?” I've consistently found it makes more sense of the Christian story than it does of the atheist story when you actually look at the evidence around us. 

So that's kind of/yes, why I think it's good to kind of ask someone else what they actually believe rather than just assuming all of the evidence is on your own shoulders; you know?

Shelby: Yes, that was one of the things you really helped me with as I've looked at your stuff and listened to your stuff; it's like, “Oh, I've always felt like that, as a Christian—especially, being a campus minister—the burden of proof is on me. I didn't even know what that really meant for a long time until I was summoned to jury duty. I had the judge explain to us, as the jurors, what burden of proof was. I was like, “Oh, that's how I felt this whole time. I felt like it's been my responsibility to bring the evidence forward, and asking helpful questions, to help people go…”—no, no—"You need to bring some evidence too,”—that it's a two-way street. 

You talk a lot about, and give plenty of great examples, of why someone should believe in God. Can you give me your best elevator pitch, like really quickly, of why someone should believe, not just in God, but in Christianity? Can you do that in like 60 seconds, since you're like adept at TikTok? 

Justin: Yes, here's the way I put it on a TikTok video; because after I'd done a few videos, kind of making the case for a [creative God], people said: “Well, which god? Why your particular God?” What I've often heard people say is: “You know, wouldn't you have to discount all of the gods out there? You would have to investigate every religion in order to know which one is true.”

And my view is: “No; it's more like having a bunch of keys. When I go to our church to unlock the door, there's quite a few different keys on a big key ring that I could try in the door. But once I found the correct one, and it unlocks the door, I don't then methodically go through all the others, just in case any of them opened the door too. I know I found the one that opens the door. I think it's the same with Christianity; you don't have to exhaustively research every religion or view of God out there to know that you found the correct key that opens the door.”

Because if it's true that Jesus Christ did die and rise again from the dead, then you can trust that what He said about Himself is true: that He was God, that He had come to fulfil all of the Old Testament. And so, for me, that's been really helpful. Because, when you have something very solid, at the center of Christianity—a truth claim—it's not just, you know, something someone dreamed up:

  • It wasn't just a revelation from heaven given to Mohammad; 
  • It wasn't just, you know, something discovered on some mysterious gold plates by Joseph Smith. 

There was a real historical claim, in the first century, that a man called Jesus Christ, who everyone knew about, had died and been raised again. If you can show that that's historically plausible—that that actually makes sense of a lot of other data around it, which I think it does—then you've got a very powerful argument, I think, that actually Christianity is true. And it's a defeater for other forms, because you know that can't be true and other forms of religion be true at the same time; because it's very exclusive in its claims: Christianity. So that, for me, is my slightly over 60-second pitch for how I would go about that. [Laughter]

[Three Dots…]

Shelby: And now, it’s time for “Three dots…three thoughts” on Real Life Load… We’ll get back to my time with Justin in just a second; but this is where I share three simple ideas that could potentially change your life—they probably won’t—but they could.

Thought 1: “In my opinion, the “best” common-person ink pen out there—meaning, a pack of pens that you could find at like Walmart® or Target®—are the Pilot V5 pens. There's two kinds of V5s out there on the shelves, from what I've been able to see—the regular version and the Precise V5RT; I have no idea what any of that means other than it has a comfort grip on it, and I'm in love with it—go pick up a pack, and you'll love them too.

Thought 2: “There are several major things in life that you just don't want to go cheap on; meaning, you should spend the money on certain things, even though it'll hurt your wallet when you pay for it.” There are lots of things in this category, but I think two of the most important are mattresses and tattoos. The average person sleeps for a third of their life, and a tattoo lasts for the rest of your life; so, yes, bargain beds and tats aren't really a good thing. 

Thought 3: “A lot of people ask me, “What's the best piece of advice I can give to a younger person?” I actually have three pieces of advice:

  • Number 1: “Think biblically.” You should be in the Bible every day. As a result, you'll be able to process anything that comes at you in a biblical way, that's accurate and in line with what God teaches in Scripture. 
  • Number 2: “Live sacrificially: die to yourself.” When you live for other people, you'll actually be a lot more joyful and spread joy in the way that Jesus was able to do by being and sacrificing yourself. 
  • Number 3: “Allow the Spirit of God to live the Christian life for you.” This is kind of a secret, but [whispering] it's impossible to live the Christian life. We need the Holy Spirit to do it for us. If you're a believer, the Spirit of God lives inside of you and makes it possible for you to live the Christian life; so let Him do it for you.

Think biblically, live sacrificially, and allow the Spirit of God to live the Christian life for you. 

This has been “Three dots…three thoughts” on Real Life Loading… And the third one was kind of like three extra ones. Now, let’s get back to my conversation with Justin Brierley. He's going to talk about the difference between belief and faith, and then he'll share about a conversation about morality and evolution that he once had with the famous atheist, Richard Dawkins.


Shelby: So Justin, one of the things I appreciate about you is that you have this kind of unique way of being able to help somebody understand some basic Christian terminology; like for example, you did a pretty dangerous, I'd say, experiment at your church to illustrate the difference between belief and faith. It involved your son, of all people, and a bucket of rocks; right?

Justin: Yes; so we basically, we created a huge pendulum at the front of our church.

Shelby: Yes, yes; and so on the stage; right? 

Justin: —on the stage; exactly. This was while we were doing services in lockdown, and we were only able to broadcast. We were trying to kind of make these sort of big statements on video. 

I mean, you can actually see this scientific experiment done—I was not the one who invented this—you can find other people. Basically, there's a law of physics which states that: “For any pendulum, when you draw it back and release it, it will never travel further than the point at which it was released.” We thought that this could be quite a fun way of making a point about faith. We've strung up, from the ceiling, this very long pendulum—so big rope with a bucket, tied at the bottom—lots of rocks in it, so it makes it very heavy. And then, I had my son, Noah, sort of stand at one end of the stage, holding the bucket to his face and then release it. It swung all the way across to the other side of the stage and then all the way back. 

The natural reaction, as someone sees a big bucket of rocks heading towards them, is to get out of the way. But I said, “Noah, you've got to trust this law of physics. That bucket of rocks may come really close to your face, but it's not going to come any closer than the point of which you released it.” And so it proved—he stayed where he was, even though it's heading towards him—but it stops just shy of his face.

The point I wanted to make in that is that it's one thing to believe in this law of physics—you can kind of, theoretically, believe in anything, you know—but it's another thing to actually put your life on the line and trust in it: trust that that law is/you're not going to be squished. 

There's another sort of great analogy to this; which is, there was a story of Blondin, the great illusionist. He also did this amazing walking across Niagara Falls on a tight rope. 

Shelby: Yes, rope-wide; yes, yes, yes. 

Justin: Yes; and people would come, from far and wide, to see him; and he would walk across. He'd walk across with a wheelbarrow/pushing a wheelbarrow; and then, he put like a sack of potatoes in and go across. 

Once, the king of England, who was on a tour, came and saw him do this; and at the end of his act, Blondin came to him and said, “Do you believe that I could put a man in this wheelbarrow and wheel him, across the rope, across Niagara Falls?” And the king said, “Yes, of course, I believe it.” And he said, “Get in then.” 

And of course, that's where the rubber hits the road. [Laughter] It's like: “Well if/do you—you might say you believe it—but do you actually trust that?” There's a difference between believing something and having faith in something; because faith is actually—is not so much about just theoretically assenting to something—it's actually about trusting. 

I just wanted to make the point that, actually, even the demons believe and tremble, as it says in James; but actually, trusting in Christ is something different to that; it's more than that. It's actually about being willing to lay our lives on the line, because of this. So that/it was just one sort of fun kind of way in which we were trying to get that concept across. 

Shelby: Yes, it was great; I loved it; yes. “Get in the wheelbarrow,”—that's helpful, I think, for people to understand: “Oh, okay; I get it now.”

So tell me a little bit about your short conversation with the world-famous atheist, Richard Dawkins, just a quick little recap of when you talked with him. 

Justin: Well, I've had a much longer conversation recently; which, by the time this podcast airs, will be out. 

Shelby: Oh, you have? 

Justin: Yes; which I was bringing him together with the world-renowned geneticist, Francis Collins, for our latest edition of The Big Conversation. If anyone wants to go and watch, or listen to that, TheBigConversation.Show is the website to watch.

Shelby: Wow; definitely will; yes. 

Justin: But in my book, which came out several years ago now, I did relate one shorter conversation I had with him. It was actually just after he'd had a great debate at Oxford University with John Lennox. It was my first opportunity, ever really, to have an interview with Richard Dawkins; because I managed to get hold of him during the after-party at a local college that was going on. We had about ten minutes, where I just sort of asked him questions about the conversation. 

Probably the one bit of the conversation that kind of went quite far and wide, once I broadcast it on my Unbelievable? show, was where we talked about morality, specifically. The whole question had come up in the discussion about whether we need God to ground our belief in right and wrong, basically. 

And what he said, he kind of made an omission in the course of that conversation that I had with him, which I have found really interesting. In fact, if I may, Shelby, I'll just read it basically verbatim; because it’s probably best to quote him—

Shelby: Yes; that's great. 

Justin: —exactly from this particular passage. We'd been talking about whether it's possible that we could basically just develop our own morality—and that's a good enough explanation—you know, we don't need God in order to believe in right and wrong/that sort of thing. 

And I said, “But if we'd evolved into a society, where rape was considered fine, would that mean that rape is fine?” And he responded, “Well, I don't want to answer that question. It's enough for me to say that we live in a society, where it's not considered fine. We live in a society where selfishness, failure to pay your debts, failure to reciprocate favors is regarded askance; that is the society in which I live. I'm very glad that's a value judgment; glad that I live in such a society.”

And I responded, “But when you make a value judgment, don't you immediately step outside this evolutionary process and say, ‘The reason this is good is that it's good’; and you don't have any way to stand on that statement.” And he responded, “Well, my value judgment itself could come from my evolutionary past.”

And I said, “So therefore, it's just as random, in a sense, as any product of evolution.” And he said, “You could say that. In any case, nothing about it makes it more probable that there's anything supernatural.” And I responded, “Okay; but ultimately, your belief that rape is wrong is as arbitrary as the fact you developed five fingers rather than six.” And he said, “You could say that; yes.” 

I think that, in a way, he was being absolutely consistent as a naturalist/as an atheist, saying, “Yes; essentially/my moral beliefs are, essentially, just the happenstance of what evolutionary history happens to have dealt me, at this point, in time and space.”

And that's fine; but it does lead you to this counterintuitive idea that, actually, you could have developed into a culture, or a place, or a time—which do exist even today—where people had very different views of morality. And the problem is none of us, actually, believe that; none of us actually believe that's the way morality works. None of us believe it just happens to be whatever the current moral zeitgeist delivers us; so that, if we went back several hundred years, we'd all be fine with slavery, for instance, maybe; you know? Well, does that mean slavery was fine? Well, no, it means we were wrong; we were mistaken about that. You know, there was a fact that we were wrong about.

The fact that that's so deeply ingrained in us—that morality is something that is, actually, real—it's not just sort of some changing thing that is just a matter of opinion, effectively. Anyone who does believe that, quickly acts as though that's not what they believe—if someone comes and steals from them; or you know, slaps their wife; or whatever it might be—it's somehow/suddenly, morality starts to feel very objective once we are actually the victim of something that's been done to us.

So for me, if it's true—if that deep sense we have that there is something really right and wrong about the way we treat other humans—if that's true, then it has to have an explanation that goes beyond just some happenstance of evolutionary biology. There has to be a moral law-maker. It has to be kind of burned in, in some way, to the moral fabric of the universe. And for me, that again, is another one of those examples where it fits better with the Christian story than the atheist story. I just/I've never heard a satisfactory explanation for where that moral sense—that sense that morality's really real, not just kind of opinion—has actually come from.

Shelby: That's really good; yes. I always feel a little bit like, “Mm,” when someone answers a question with: “You could say that”; that doesn't seem like very solid ground to stand on. [Laughter]

Well, thanks for that story. I enjoyed reading about that and listening to it when you told it in a talk that you gave. So thanks for giving us a quick recap on that.

I want to finish with two questions. Since this podcast is produced by Family Life®, I've been thinking about family quite a bit in terminology that comes from the Scriptures, and not necessarily from the modern perspective of what we think of when we think, “family”; much more about the family of God. So how has the family of God been a life-giving anchor for you? 

Justin: The family of God—if you mean by that—the church as a whole.

Shelby: The church, yes. 

Justin: Yes, yes; the church has been hugely important. I mean, my wife is a minister of church, here in the UK. The family of the church kind of grounds us in many ways: being able to be part of that community/part of that fellowship. It's where real life happens in a way, just as you kind of have to get on with the family you've been given by God, biologically—that is part of what shapes your character—how you respond, whether you choose to respond in love, and grace, and patience, or irritation, or whatever. That's part of what it is to be human and to grow in those ways. 

I find the same thing with the church. The church, as anyone knows who's been in that local church context, it can be incredibly difficult sometimes and challenging; you will meet people that you don't agree with or you don't get on with. But actually, for me, that's all part of the great mystery of what God is doing through His church, is actually to help us to develop in grace and character. And for me, it's a really exciting adventure to go on with other people when you see yourself as part of something much bigger. 

For me, I see so many people in our world today, who are looking for identity, who are looking for community, who are looking to be part of something bigger than themselves—but they are, often, looking in all the wrong places—and they're looking at all these kind of ideologies that kind of essentially actually end up causing them to be at odds with the rest of the world, because it's basically a zero-sum game when it comes to a lot of the identity politics and everything else that that exists in the world by which people are measuring their identity. 

The church, however, is about finding that identity; but it's the kind of identity, which encompasses people, which gives us grace and helps us to move through the world in a way where we actually engage others, who are not the same with the love, and the grace, and the truth of Christ. So for me, when it works/when it's doing what it's supposed to do, the church is an incredible vehicle for transformation: personal, and social, and cultural change. And when I see that expressed in its/in all myriad of little ways in our local church, it's incredibly encouraging to me to see God working in, in that kind.

Shelby: That’s beautiful; great. 

So this show is called Real Life Loading…—and then, there's three dots at the end—dot, dot, dot. “What's the most nervous you've ever been when you've gotten the three dots on your phone, as you've sent out a message to someone, and then they're/you could see them, in real time, responding; but you don't know what they're going to say? Have you ever been super nervous; and if so, what was that context?” [Laughter]

Justin: Wow; yes, I mean, definitely; I think it's in those conversations where—you actually say something that isn't just the usual kind of pleasantries—but where you actually feel called to challenge someone in some way. And when you put that out there, and you're waiting to see what happens in response: “How is this person going to respond to that?”

Shelby: Yes, there's vulnerability.

Justin: Yes; I think that's the hardest thing. It's probably something I struggle to do the most, in a way, even though I host a show, ironically, where I kind of get two points of view together to kind of dialogue and debate.

Shelby: Yes. [Laughter]

Justin: Because I'm really a peacemaker; I'm not a… Whereas, the people I get on might be more kind of the people, who have the strong opinions, I tend to be more the kind of person, trying to find the meeting place between them. So I've never been that good, myself, for actually putting [out] strong opinions myself. But sometimes, when it's called for/you have to do it, and that's always slightly nerve-wracking to know what's going to come back.

Shelby: That is the perfect answer. That's the perfect answer that I wanted from you; because so many times, we find these heroes or, and we or people be like, Oh, they have it all together,”—we put them up on a pedestal—“They never wrestle with the things that I wrestle with, like, ‘I could never do that.’” I've heard that said many times: “I could never do that.” So I really love your answer, because this is what you're known for; and yet, you still wrestle with entering into the fray sometimes. That's like you don't have it all together; and that, if anything, that's encouraging for my audience to hear; because I don't want them thinking, “I could never do that”; because “Yes, you can.”

Justin, thank you so much for joining me. I'm so grateful for you. Thank you so much. 

Justin: Absolutely; yes.


Shelby: I'm not going to lie: it was a big deal for me to have Justin on Real Life Loading… today. I was a fan of his before I got the chance to talk to him, one on one. I think that's because he's so great at addressing really difficult topics of conversation in a measured and respectful way, and he is got really helpful perspectives for people like me and like you, who love and care about Jesus and want to talk about Him. 

If this episode with Justin Brierley was helpful for you, I'd love for you to share today's podcast with a friend. And wherever you get your podcasts, it can really advance what we're doing with Real Life Loading…, if you'd rate and review us. It's, for real, easy to find us on our social channels. Just search for Real Life Loading… or look for our links in the show notes. 

I want to thank my producers, Josh Batson and Bruce Goff. I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time on Real Life Loading… 

Real Life Loading… is a production of FamilyLife, a Cru®ministry. 

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