Click on the quote below to read the article...

Although the Jesus Christians come from evangelical roots, their faith and sincerity has caused them to seriously question the ethics used by many, if not most, evangelicals.

Most people live their lives according to the rules of the religion they were born into. People born in a Christian country profess to be Christians. People born in a Hindu country profess to be Hindus. And people born in Muslim countries profess to be Muslims. There is a lot of pressure from the immediate society to conform with the prevailing religion; and the price of changing religions can be very great.

Missionaries have the task of getting people to question the religion that has come to them by birth. This is not an easy task, and because of that, it is tempting to use short-cuts to achieve such conversions. Some of these short-cuts are listed below.

Unfair attacks on the prevailing religion. It is often assumed that if you can prove the opposition to be evil, it automatically proves that you are good. Working on this assumption, opposing religions easily become embroiled in holy wars to rid the world of the 'infidels'.

The Apostle Paul originally persecuted Christians before he converted from Judaism. After his conversion he became critical of his former position with regard to Christianity (Philippians 3:4-8); but he continued to appreciate the good that was in Judaism as well. (Romans 3:1-2) Similarly, a true conversion from Hinduism or Islam (for example) to Christianity, should not blind converts to the good points in the religion they were converted away from. We are confident that all paths of sincere faith in God, honesty, humility, and love, will eventually lead people to Christ. And because of this, we do not feel a need to destroy the other paths.

Use of economic pressure. It is obvious to us that many people in India who convert to Christianity stand to gain economically through their ties with rich (by Indian standards) foreign missionaries. This may represent a fringe benefit that God gives to those who make other sacrifices for him. But too often it attracts people who are interested in little more than swapping family and national loyalties for Western luxuries. When this happens, the institutional church in foreign countries becomes largely a collection of the worst people from other religions.

Jesus was careful not to use miracles or loaves and fishes to lure new disciples to himself. And we must take similar steps to actually eliminate converts who are coming to us for what they can get from it selfishly.

Hiding the true cost. Jesus urged potential disciples to count the cost before following him. (Luke 14:25-27) He did not offer discounts for those who were not prepared to go all the way in serving him. He demanded that we forsake everything we own, our families, and even our own lives if we want to follow him. He said drastic things like, "If your eye causes you to sin, then pluck it out!" (Matthew 5:29)

These things are not being taught by most missionaries today. Instead, we hear constant apologies for the demands that Jesus made, and elaborate justifications for not taking him seriously. The emphasis is all on the word "free", with only ritual conversion prayers or church attendance as the price for anyone to change from one religion to another.

When presented with such an offer, Gandhi said, "I don't want to be saved [just] from the effects of sin [i.e. punishment in hell]; I want to be freed from sin itself!"

This is the kind of faith that Jesus is looking for. Just because such faith is rare does not mean that we should drop the price in order to boost up the head count when we write home to our supporters.

Paradoxically, the very things that are likely to attract the masses are also likely to put off genuine seekers after truth.

If we refuse to take the short-cuts listed in this article, the number of conversions we get will drop off to almost nothing. (We ourselves have no 'converts' to show for our many years in India.) But any conversions that we do get will be conversions to God and to truth, and not conversions to our "improvements" on his standards Perhaps more importantly, our own religious faith will become more genuine and credible as a result.

(See also Keep on Planting.)

Register or log in to take the quiz for this article

Pin It
Don't have an account yet? Register Now!

Sign in to your account