As a Christ follower in the Western World, I am regularly reminded Christianity is not the only faith around me. I know people who are Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and some who are nothing at all. I also have friends who are Universalists. In case you are wondering what a Universalist believes, in some religious Universalist circles “religion is a universal human quality, emphasizing the universal principles of most religions and accepting other religions in an inclusive manner, believing in a universal reconciliation between humanity and the divine.” (Wikipedia)
Society frequently demands for me to accept all other faiths and religions as equal to mine. I’m told I’m not loving people if I don’t share the belief of the equality of other faiths, but this is not something I can do. I base this stance on Jesus’s own words: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) In many ways, I feel if I accept all faiths as equal, I’m stating Christ died for some people but not for all. But I believe He died for everyone. For me to deny the importance of His death and resurrection would be a betrayal of confidence in His promise. If I trust Him, I must believe Him.
“If I trust Him, I must believe Him.”
Now, I’m not suggesting at all that my disagreements with the idea of religious equality gives me the free license to bash others or their beliefs. In fact, such behavior is abhorrent because it is not the heart of Christ to behave this way. I base this belief on the teachings of Paul in his writings to the church in Corinth which states: “Do everything in love” (1 Corinthians 16:14) and in Galatians 5:22 which states: “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” How else do I share the love of Christ with others who do not know Him if I never wear His nature as my mantel?
How do we walk the fine line of sharing the love of Christ with others and offending them? This is a hard and careful line to walk on some occasions. It is important to be a respecter of all people even when we disagree when it comes to beliefs. I believe sharing the love of Christ with others is so much more than witnessing. Love people. Do good and be patient with others. Show compassion and mercy. Exhibit the qualities of Christ. Be a reason for others to see Christ in you so much that people feel the words that Christ spoke about Himself when they look at you: “If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!” (John 14:7)
Another great post written by a friend of mine:
One evening, my wife and I watched a video we borrowed from a friend called Finger of God.Finger of God is part of a trilogy of short films put out by Darren Wilson. The trilogy is a documentary where Mr. Wilson and company travel to meet people around the world in attempt to ask a simple question: who is God?
I was touched by one scene in Finger of God in particular. A group of Christian missionaries were visiting Turkey. One of the missionaries named Heidi Baker began talking to a Muslim woman through a local Christian pastor who was interpreting for her. The woman suffered from blindness in one eye which Heidi asked permission from the woman to pray for. As the missionary and local pastor prayed, the woman was healed from her affliction. Afterwards, the woman praised Allah. In response, the local pastor tried to correct the woman by saying it was Jesus who had healed her, and he seemed quite annoyed the woman kept praising Allah. Finally, the missionary pulled him aside and asked him not to continue to correct her. The point was the woman was healed.
As I watched the scene unfold, I thought, “Yes, the missionary is absolutely right.” The fact God loves all His children and He just healed one from her afflictions without any conditions attached was the point. The healing was a gift, no strings attached. The local pastor was so focused on getting the old woman to acknowledge the healing was done through Jesus, he missed the most important part of it all. It is so obvious to me it’s like the 300lb gorilla in the room; yet he missed the point. With great sadness, I feel I can’t say it enough.
Sometimes, we miss the forest for the trees. We’ve all been guilty of this at some point in our lives. We get so wrapped up in the details of something that impassions us that we lose focus on the big picture and what we were trying to accomplish; therefore, I will ask an important question. Do we know what we want to accomplish? Maybe more importantly, what is it that God really wants us to do?
Written by Leslie Hardin
It happened again. This week, I sat in front of the television, watching the news and found myself angry, ashamed, and saddened. It wasn’t the violence, desperation, or human condition, usually flooding media these days. Instead, it was the realization of society’s view of Christianity today and how in some ways it’s our fault the world views us the way it does.
As I listened to a news anchor calls the values of my Father “outdated”, “backwards”, and “self righteous”, I felt the breaking of my heart for people who will never know His love because they don’t know the truth about Him or His Son based on how we represent Him.
Now don’t get my wrong, there are plenty of God fearing, completely sold-out-for-Him followers of Christ out there, but those representations don’t appear to be what the world sees. They see a body of people who judge the world, live in excess but withhold giving abundantly to those in need, fight among themselves, and who speak love but do not appear to know how to love themselves. They see people who confine themselves to a building of four walls where they go to upstage each other on supposed holiness and get their “Jesus fill for the week.” They see a lot of fakes, and a lot of rules (Luke 11:35-44). Would you want to follow a god that appears to condone such actions from His people? Whether this is truth or not, this is how many people perceive us. If you don’t believe me, try typing “christianity is outdated” into Google.
How do we change the world’s view of us? We go back to His model. We start loving people. We live like we have a love worth dying for. We start showing people the type of unconditional love Jesus died for, and we believe it and strive for it with ever fiber of our souls (John 3:16). We build relationships among each other and among people in the world who may be wandering hopelessly seeking a love they’ve never known. We build each other up instead of tearing each other down. We always speak truth; but we speak it with grace, love, and peace. We pray for each other. We speak with the authority we’ve been given even when it scares us. We do not only what’s right, but sometimes we even do what’s hard. We speak to nations. We become servants of one another (Matthew 23:11). As my pastor stated profoundly this morning, we should be obedient in carrying out what He tells us to do because “It may not even be about you. It may be God getting you in a place to touch others around you…We need to start acting like who we are.” We need to remember who we stand for even when we’re having a bad day because “God still speaks through you even when you’re having a bad day.”
I am just as guilty as anyone else, and I don’t mean to come across as preachy or condemning. But as western world culture turns farther and farther from God, we should feel an urgency, not an apathy, for affecting those around us. We should attempt to share His goodness and blessings in a positive, unmistakably different way every day. We should be ambassadors and represent Him well (1 Corinthians 13:13).
* Wise words from Pastor Richard Marcello.
“Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and He knows everything.” – 1 John 3:18-20
In love and peace,
The In-Place Missionary