I was on a radio show recently called Engaging Truth. The episode I was on was hosted by Ken Chitwood. There was an option for people to call in with questions or to text questions. A few questions were received but not able to be addressed on the show. Here is one of those questions:
Why do you have to ‘evangelize?’ Couldn’t you just help people appreciate religious differences, teach them about religion, and lead others into more peaceful co-existence… recognizing we aren’t all the same? Why do you have to shove your faith down someone else’s throat?
I agree with you that the Christian faith shouldn’t be forced upon someone. Jesus taught that we should make disciples through sharing his teachings, not at gunpoint with an ultimatum to convert or die. The example of Jesus and the early church is that the spreading of the gospel needs to be done through service to the community, coupled with dialogue, storytelling, Scripture proclamations, and reasoned arguments communicated in love. Submission holds with tap-out conversions aren’t part of God’s plan of proselytizing, and if you have experienced Christians sharing God’s Word in an unloving manner, I apologize.
When I share my Christian faith in public, I share my beliefs with anyone who wants to listen to them and engage in dialogue with me. I offer coffee and a chair to create a relaxed, enjoyable environment for religious conversation, usually on public campuses. If you don’t want to stay and discuss the person and work of Jesus Christ with me, and how he stands out among the other religious founders by being the only one to die for the sins of the world and rise from the grave, then I don’t want to force you to listen. I wish you well and I say silent prayer for you as you move on down the line.
The reason I “evangelize” is because I am convinced that Jesus is God and that he died to take away the sins of the world. “Evangelize” means to share good news. Gospel means “good news” and the good news is that God has demonstrated his love for us through his Son Jesus Christ, forgiving our sins through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. I’m sure that you have heard this message before, if you are living in America. I have strong convictions that the gospel is true, so much so that I take time to share the gospel of Jesus Christ at the risk of potentially offending someone and bringing harassment upon myself in the process. I hope you understand that because I believe the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is good news for the entire world, I must tell people. If I were to keep silent and not share what I believe to be the best news anyone could ever receive, that would mean I really hate you. If you have any questions about the Christian faith or why I believe it to be true, it’d be my pleasure to answer them to the best of my ability.
Some questions I would ask back to you:
Can you think of any examples where it could be right to force your beliefs on others even if they don’t want any part of what you confess to be true? Would it be okay if you were convinced that sharing your beliefs was a matter of life and death, the type of truth that could save someone’s life or make society as a whole better?
What if your belief system involved a command to share your beliefs with others? Would you disobey the exhortation to share what you believe to be true?
Here is a well-known atheist who understands why Christian share their faith: