When Christians share their faith with others—especially those of other faiths—our conversation sometimes begins with an unfortunate assumption: that we Christians have absorbed the message of Jesus and that non-Christians have not. That we are on the righteous side of God's ledger, and that Muslims and Jews are the sinners' side. We are near to God, and Buddhists and Hindus are far from God. Our conversation implicitly assumes that non-Christians need spiritual help and we do not so much. Non-Christians are lost, and we are not; people of other faiths need to hear the words of the gospel, and we do not.

We never say any of this in so many words—this is not the sort of thing that can be said at interfaith dialogues! But we Christians sometimes come across that way, and when we do, we are labeled arrogant and self-righteous. This puzzles us, because at such forums or in personal conversation with non-Christians, we usually work hard at being civil and kind. I suspect the problem in some cases is the above assumptions.

Let me suggest, in fact, that whenever we communicate to non-Christians that we have found it and that they have not, that we have been chosen and that they have not, that we are the apple of God's eye and that they are not—whenever we assume that stance, consciously or not, we are communicating something other than the gospel, the Good News.

Let us rehearse a core dimension of that gospel: All have sinned—including Christians—and fall short of God's glory (Rom. 3:23). And while we were sinners—all of us—Christ died for us, all of us (Rom. 5:6). And in Christ God was reconciling the world — Muslim, Jew, and Christian—to himself (2 Cor. 5:19). For God so ...

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SoulWork
In "SoulWork," Mark Galli brings news, Christian theology, and spiritual direction together to explore what it means to be formed spiritually in the image of Jesus Christ.
Mark Galli
Mark Galli is Editor of Christianity Today in Carol Stream, Illinois.
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