Reaching the Masses
Since the very earliest days of the Christian faith, Christians have been actively sharing their faith in order to introduce people to Jesus Christ. In fact, Jesus commissioned us to do it. But we are not the only ones who are trying to convince people that we are the ones with the truth. And this is not a new phenomenon.
Almost immediately, in the early days of Christianity, there were people trying to turn Christians in a different direction. In 1st and 2nd John, we have accounts of the Gnostics literally trying to infiltrate churches in order to convince Christians to follow them. In Paul’s letter to the Galatians we see Judaizers trying to do the same thing.
And in modern times we have the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses who are well known for their attempts to steal Christians away from their faith. Since these two groups have been around for so long, it is probably safe to say that most Christians are at least a little wary of their proselytizing efforts.
Of course, there are many evangelizing faiths out there, but there are a couple that are increasingly prominent in America that we should keep our eyes on. In fact, we not only need to be aware of them, but also know how to counter their efforts.
Human Rights Campaign
Are you familiar with the Human Rights Campaign (HRC)? People associated with this organization would be very surprised to hear that I am characterizing them as a religious sect. But what they advocate actually represents a particular set of beliefs. HRC is an activist organization with 1.5 million members and an annual revenue stream of around $53 million dollars. They recently launched an effort to support a marriage initiative which they are calling the “All God’s Children” campaign. Oh, did I mention that HRC is the nation’s largest Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual (LGBT) activist organization, and that the marriage cause they advocate for is gay marriage? And did I mention that this campaign is specifically aimed at convincing Southerners that homosexuality is compatible with Christianity? As you can see, their agenda has a belief dimension and is, in fact, an expression of Naturalism.
As we consider the efforts of advocacy groups which are trying to normalize homosexuality in the culture, not only have they sought to promote their own beliefs, but to also demonize and destroy anyone who will not accept their beliefs about sexual morality. And because of the support of the news media and entertainment industry, they have been somewhat successful in their efforts.
The approach many Christians use to push back against groups like HRC is to focus on the “immorality” and “deviance” of homosexuality. The main problem with this is that it makes Christians look intolerant, unloving and bigoted to people who believe “homosexual marriage” is morally okay. An even bigger problem is that is puts the focus on sinful acts rather than on the real problem – which is their need for Christ.
Of course, we cannot allow the perceptions of others, particularly non-believers, to determine what we believe. But if there is another way to frame our witness, it might be worthwhile to do so in order to get a better hearing from non-believers. The fact is, the true Christian position is neither intolerant nor unloving. It accepts all human beings as persons created in the image of God – which includes homosexuals. This does not mean that Christians accept homosexual behavior as appropriate. But the truth is, homosexuality is no worse a sin than any other.
As Christians, we need to accept homosexuals without accepting their sexual sin – just like we would do with adulterers, fornicators or any other. Sexual sin is sexual sin. Why do we treat this one differently than others?
As Christians we need to focus on what the Bible teaches about sin. The sin problem is not just about sexual sin, but about rebellion against God in general. Any sin that is not redeemed causes separation from God – both in a temporal sense and for eternity.
As Christians, we need to find ways to be missionaries to those who have adopted a lifestyle of sin which has them separated from God. As we confront HRC and other groups with similar beliefs, we need to be doing the work of a missionary to them just as they seek to do toward us.
Another group which is majorly trying to evangelize in our modern culture is Islam. Muslims have a couple of different approaches they use in their evangelistic efforts.
One method is used primarily in places where they don’t hold political power. In these places, they will often try to use reason to portray their faith as the truth. Of course, their reasoning ultimately cannot stand up to scrutiny, but that doesn’t really matter when they are sharing their faith with people who don’t understand why the Muslim faith is false. In addition to using reason, some Muslims will also make a “social justice” appeal. This is sometimes effective with people who feel that they are not being treated justly by society.
The other method Muslims use is prominent in places where they do hold political power. In those situations, they often use brute force to “encourage” conversion. Brute force can be anything from economic penalties against people who are non-Muslim, to judicial penalties, and even death (as we see with certain radical groups like ISIS). And it needs to be understood that this kind of brute force is perfectly compatible with Islamic doctrine.
When we wish to share Christ with Muslims, we must know their beliefs in order to counter them with the truth of the gospel. It is not enough to know that they are wrong, we must know why and be able to explain that to them.
What We Must Do
There will always be some belief system that dominates a society, and the one that does gets to impose its values on those living in the culture. Christian values allow all people to live according to their own beliefs. Faithful Christians certainly try to share their faith with others, but ultimately do not try to force compliance.
As we have seen above, other belief systems are not so tolerant. Of course, a Christian’s purpose in sharing his or her faith is not to create a tolerant civil society – though that is a great side benefit. Our purpose is to introduce people to God so they can know him in an eternal, personal relationship.
As we look at the great variety of people who need Christ, we can see that there is a huge range of beliefs that we must confront. And each belief system must be dealt with based on the various beliefs it holds. As we consider our Christian responsibility before God, we need to reevaluate our commitment to his service. In that reevaluation, we must see where our weaknesses are and determine to shore them up. When it comes to our witness, we need to learn how to deal with the beliefs of false religions so we can become effective in sharing Christ with their adherents.
The masses definitely need to be reached. But they need to be reached with the gospel, not with the beliefs of false faiths. As Christians, we have a responsibility to be agents of God to share Christ with those who don’t know him. Christians who don’t know how to do that need to get up to speed.
© 2015 Freddy Davis