As if yesterday’s post wasn’t truculent enough, today I’m going to take on one of the Christian church’s most closely held beliefs: If we don’t go out an tell every person on Earth about Jesus, it’s our fault they are going to hell.
Ok, firstly, WOW. You think pretty highly of yourself if you think God needs your help preventing people from going to hell.
Second, if it truly is your responsibility and your failure means people go to hell… how is that possibly fair to the people living in the jungles of New Guinea that have never even met an outsider? Are they just doomed to hell because they were born in the wrong place?
Third, why is it that your definition of evangelism is jetting around the world? Don’t you have friends, coworkers, and neighbors who aren’t Christians?
Fourth, why is it when you “witness” to your friends and coworkers, you feel the need to do it by bashing them over the head with your Bible?
Fifth, why do you avoid spending time with non-Christians? Didn’t Jesus go out of his way to spend time with tax collectors and prostitutes?
Evangelism was meant to be personal. It starts with living your own life with character. People will notice if you do that. People who are curious what makes you tick are the people who are most likely to listen to you talk about your faith. Random strangers don’t have any reason to listen to you, especially if your approach is less than kind and understanding.
All of us in the Midwest have had the misfortune of seeing Phred Felps and his gay posse holding hateful signs. They are so deluded that they think they are witnessing. If they truly hold the Biblical view that homosexuality is a sin (not a worse sin than any other, but yes, a sin), then wouldn’t a kind approach be more likely to help? Like many things, homosexuality is not genetic, but it’s also not entirely a choice. People don’t wake up one day and think “I think I’d like to adopt a lifestyle that is likely to make people hate me and discriminate against me.” The attraction and desire for the same sex relationship is just as strong as it is for heterosexuals. I don’t for an instant think it’s any less “innate.” BUT, that doesn’t make it right.
Bashing someone over the head with your beliefs is the opposite of evangelism. It ensures that the recipient will never ever ever want to associate themselves with “Christians.” I’ve heard people jokingly say they’d rather go to hell where the nice people are than go to heaven and spend eternity with judgmental jerks. Although that’s hyperbolic, it’s rooted in a basic truth – people do not want to be around mean people.
The Bible says that lust, envy, gluttony, anger, jealousy, selfishness, greed, and a host of other things are sins, too. “Christians” like to fixate on the sins they don’t personally commit (like homosexuality for example) and ignore the ones that they do commit (like gluttony, anger, and selfishness). I suppose it’s because it’s hard to admit that you are just as guilty of being a sinner as the next guy.
The only form of evangelism that I think is legitimate is personal evangelism. People see your character and want to know where it comes from… that’s your opportunity to witness. If no one ever asks you about it, you’re probably not doing a very good job of living right. I don’t mean “towing the line” of made-up standards (no dancing, drinking, or R rated movies). I mean actually having character.
But Incredipete, what about those folks in New Guinea that haven’t heard of Jesus?
I’m going to make an assertion – God knows those people, too. God isn’t an American, and English-speakers don’t have the corner on the God market. In essence as Christians we believe that the way to salvation is to accept God’s love. In their case, that can play out as an acknowledgement that there is a higher power (a creator) that takes care of them. The specifics of Jesus dying for their sins aren’t really relevant. Just like a child who dies too young to understand what Jesus did – the Bible says they go to heaven… how is the person living in the jungle any different?
Evangelize by example, because doing it with a baseball bat just doesn’t work.