Aren't Other Religions Good Enough?
Q. A youth group retreat about other religions got me thinking about some Jews and Muslims at my school. They seem to love God as much as I do, so I am unsure why we Christians want to convert them away from their religions. How do we know this is better for them?
A. You say "I'm unsure why we … want to convert them." I'm not sure that's the best way to look at conversion. Despite the way many people talk about it, "we" can't convert anybody. It's not your job to convert anyone. You couldn't do it if you tried. A conversion is a new relationship between a person and God. That person and God are the only ones who can change their relationship.
What you can do is to introduce someone to Jesus. One of Jesus' last commands to his followers was "Be my witnesses." He didn't say, "Convert people to Christianity, whether they want to or not." He wants us to spread his good news. How? Simply tell people who don't know Jesus about his life, death, resurrection and promised return. Let them see your life as an example of a life in which Christ is working. Then, if that person wants to, and if the Holy Spirit is at work in that person's life, conversion is possible. The Bible calls it "regeneration" or the beginning of a new life.
You also asked how we know Christianity is "better" for them than their religions. The difference is simply Christ. Christianity is the only religion that believes God became a man who died on a cross for our sins. This death is the only way to erase our sins. He said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6, NIV). If I believe that to be true, wouldn't I want my friends to know of Jesus' invitation to join him on a journey through life and beyond?
Now, if by "better" you mean life becomes problem-free, then Christianity isn't better. After all, if someone converts to the Christian religion, it might cost them their friends, their families, or in some countries, even their lives. Life can certainly be "easier" without the difficulties that conversion can bring, but believers are certainly better off knowing Jesus than not knowing him. He gives us eternal life and the opportunity to enjoy friendship with God forever.
So, why do we want to introduce Christ to non-Christians? Maybe better questions to ask are: Are my friends at school better off knowing how much Jesus loves them, or not? Are their lives better with the forgiveness, grace, understanding, and comfort of Jesus Christ, or without? Your job is to tell others that God loves them so much that he sent his Son, Jesus Christ, whose sacrificial death freed them from the sin and brokenness of this world. Only they can decide how they will respond to Jesus' great love for them.
Marshall, a former pastor, is editor of Leadership, a magazine for pastors.
Copyright © 2007 by the author or Christianity Today/Ignite Your Faith magazine.
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