April 2, 2009
Christian apologist Mary Jo Sharp told Oklahoma Baptist University students, faculty, staff and friends that love is the best testimony of God's existence during OBU's chapel service Wednesday, April 1, in Raley Chapel.
Speaking in honor of OBU Women's Missions and Ministry Day, Sharp is the first woman to become a certified apologetics instructor through the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board. Her message focused on the love of God, coinciding with OBU's chapel theme, "Lost and Found: Reclaiming the Knowledge of the Holiness of God." The year-long theme discusses the attributes of God as based on the book, "The Knowledge of the Holy" by A.W. Tozer.
"Today we're going to answer the call of Jesus to love the Lord with all our heart, all our soul, and specifically we're going to deal with how to love the Lord with all our mind," Sharp said. "We're going to talk about the existence of love as the greatest testimony to the existence of God."
Sharp said because love is not ultimately defined by humans, it is one of three reasons why she believes love testifies to God's existence. When humans talk about love, she said it often refers to a feeling of delight or well-wishing, but she believes love actually means more than that.
"If love is merely grounded in human terms, if love is merely grounded in humanity, then look at what it really is: It's just an expression that has developed over the centuries," she said. "If we try to ground love strictly in how humans have come to describe it, there is no grounding for the kind of love most humans think they exhibit."
Humans tend to define love as a strong affection - a warm passion or emotion for one another - but humans' definitions of love do not help truly understand the human condition, she said. Therefore, Sharp contended that love ultimately is defined by God.
"The love of God is one of the great realities of the universe, a pillar upon which the hope of the world rests," Sharp read from Tozer's book.
Scripture identifies that love existed before the beginning of the universe, she noted, referring to John 17:24, which quotes Jesus as saying, "Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world."
Tozer states that a person can learn much about God's love from His other known attributes: "Because God is self-existent, His love has no beginning; because He is eternal, His love can have no end; because He is infinite, it has no limit; because He is holy, it is the quintessence of all spotless purity; because He is immense, His love is [incomprehensibly vast]."
"This is the love that existed before mankind," Sharp said. "It is a love not in need or want. It is a love that is completely fulfilled. And it is a love that has always existed. This love is not subject to the changing DNA of mankind. This love is not subject to the language of man. It is not defined by man, it's defined by God. It is not created by man, it is discovered by man."
Finally, Sharp said, Christians must show the world why someone should believe in God by loving one another.
"Jesus said that love is the way the world will know that He was sent by God," she said. "That is the final apologetic. In our women's ministries, and in all ministries, and in daily life, we are called to demonstrate this final apologetic. The world cannot find an ultimate meaning for love outside of this love that existed before mankind.
"But we are called to demonstrate a love for one another that the world will recognize is so different that they will only be able to attribute this kind of love to God," she said.
Sharp is a former atheist from the Pacific Northwest who grew up in a loving home but thought religion was for the weak-minded. She became a believer in God after reading through a Bible given to her by a high school teacher. Two years later, she professed Jesus as her Savior at Alameda Baptist Church in Norman, Okla. She earned a bachelor's degree in music from the University of Oklahoma and a master's in Christian Apologetics from Biola University in La Mirada, Calif.
She is administrator of the Web site www.ConfidentChristianity.com and the Facebook group, "Two Chix Apologetics," where she engages people from around the world in dialogue concerning the truth of Christianity.