42 Seconds: The Jesus Model for Everyday Interactions by Carl Medearis
The average length of Jesus' conversations (the conversations recorded in the Gospels, anyway) is 42 seconds. What are the implications of that for our faith conversations? How can we apply this to our everyday lives?
Why I wanted to read this book
While 42 Seconds: The Jesus Model for Everyday Interactions is not a formal apologetics book, the premise intrigued me. I could see this concept as being relevant to apologetics.
After all, apologetics is simply a tool to give intelligent, reasoned answers for our hope. That means we have to have real conversations with people. And who better to learn a model for interactions from than Jesus?
Carl Medearis presents a unique concept - the average length of Jesus' conversations (the conversations recorded in the Gospels, anyway) is 42 seconds. What are the implications of that for our faith conversations? How can we apply this to our everyday lives?
This got me thinking: what does this mean for us, as Jesus' ambassadors? Most of our interactions with the everyday people in our lives are brief snippets. Are we taking advantage of our daily interactions to the fullest?
And what exactly is the Jesus model for everyday interactions?
What I like about this book
42 Seconds: The Jesus Model for Everyday Interactions is a short, easy read. If you read it cover-to-cover in one sitting it would take only 2-3 hours to read.
Medearis includes many examples and stories from his own life of these brief interactions we typically have in a day. Which makes it easier to imagine how we can apply the concepts in our own lives.
42 Seconds: The Jesus Model for Everyday Interactions is a practical application study intended to be done in a group, but is easily adaptable to independent study.
Complete each of the 4 sections over the course of one week. Medearis provides questions at the end of each section designed to promote deeper discussion or thought.
The 4 key topics he challenges the reader to work through are:
Acknowledging people, asking questions, doing small things for them and caring about their kids
Being more in the moment with people, being our authentic selves, paying attention to others, accepting the results are not up to us, and learning to go with the natural flow of conversations instead of trying to control them.
Knowing when to stand your ground, being ok with standing alone when necessary, stepping outside of our comfort zones, speaking with both love and truth, and not trying to control every conversation.
Making sure our beliefs match those of Jesus, making sure our actions match those beliefs, knowing Jesus intimately and living as if Jesus matters more than anything.
What I don't like about this book
While I think the idea behind this book of approaching evangelism in a more natural way is good, Medearis has a habit of misrepresenting or over-simplifying Jesus' conversations, the role of evangelism for Christians and apologetics.
At one point he mistakenly claims apologetics was "not the way of Jesus" (Ch. 3, pg 16). On the contrary, Jesus did indeed use apologetics. All kinds. (Check out The Apologetics of Jesus section in this article.)
He also says that instead of approaching our conversations from a "Western" mindset of logic and reason we ought to practice being kind. Yes, we need to be kind in our interactions and conversations. In fact, in 1 Peter 3:16 we are told to answer questions and objections with intellectual reasoning and gentleness and respect.
Also, the world of Jesus and all people who lived during that time was "Western", as they lived under Roman rule. Our society is an extension of Roman civilization.
According to Medearis, this means asking lots of questions. Which is exactly what a good apologist does. Greg Koukl advocates this in Tactics, and Mary Jo Sharp advocates for asking questions in Why Do You Believe That?
I do not know of any apologist that advises against asking questions. This is the regular advice I give to the women in our Christian Women Apologists group.
The bottom line
While this book is not a typical apologetics book, its ideas are easily adaptable to apologetics. Do not expect a deeply theological book. Expect a primer on having natural conversations.
If you have been doing apologetics for a long time, it is helpful to be reminded of the basics:
People are people, and they bring with them many reasons for their unbelief or misbelief. Treat them like human beings.
If you are nervous about having faith conversations with people, you will gain some helpful practical application ideas to try out in a natural, non-threatening way.
Medearis reminds us to always keep in mind that we are dealing with people, not projects. This is the heart of apologetics and the heart of Jesus.