Implications of a Culture that Desires an End to Evangelism

bibleTherefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commended you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. – Matthew 28:19-20

Over the course of the last two weeks, I have encountered friends and family members that take great issue with Christians trying to “convert” non-Christians. In those conversations, comparisons were made between ISIS, Nazis, Stalin and others. Basically, their complaint is, “it is as wrong for Christians to strive to convert others to Christianity as it is/was for ISIS to be doing what they are doing, Hitler to have done what he did and so on…”

Being that I am using my time to write on this subject, it should be apparent that I take great issue with this line of thought application. However, it is also informative. Here are a few things it brings up for me. Tell me what you think.

Several Implications:

  1. Why Christians SHOULD try to convert others. Some would make this more broad of a topic and say that no one should try to convert anyone to their way of thinking or living. I can’t help but think of our court rooms, judges, magistrates, police, boarder agents and the like. Before I go there, I suppose a definition of terms is needed. For the purpose of this post, a Christian will be understood as a human being who follows Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Such a person is not saved of their own volition. They are saved by Christ alone. It is God who sought and saved them through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. People who claim to be Christian, confess with their mouth and believe with their heart that Jesus Christ is Lord of all. Due to the good news of Christ’s resurrection, those who confess and believe that they too will one day rise from the dead to live eternally with Jesus Christ their Lord. Their hope is in heaven eternal. Therefore, there is a strong belief or conviction that life continues after death. For those who do not accept God and His Son Jesus Christ, eternal damnation awaits. For those who do accept God and His Son Jesus Christ, eternal glory with the Father awaits. Hence the concern and urgency for others to know the good news. As human beings who love other human beings, Christians do not want to see any one separated from God in eternal damnation. Conversion: It is the third person of the trinity that draws human beings to God through Jesus Christ. He is the one that convicts people of their sin and sins. Again, the direction is from God to man not the other way around. Because God seeks us, we seek others for God as demonstrated by the Great Commission mentioned above given us by Jesus himself. Ours is simply to share the good news, God does the rest.
  2. Many Christians are doing it wrong. History shows that from time to time we Christians get things mixed up and it can appear that we go about our sharing of the good news in wrong ways. Fortunately, God is Just and Merciful and offers Grace without conditions. I have seen with my own eyes, and mistakenly practiced trying to be and do the job of the Holy Spirit. When we as Christians do this, we are quenching the Holy Spirit. It is not our job to convict others of their sin or sins. It is God’s through the power of the Holy Spirit. When we attempt to share the good news in this manner we come across as accusers. The wooing of the Holy Spirit looks a lot different than the “turn or burn” attempts of some Christians. The warning and urgency is legit but the method is off and often misinterpreted. Kind of like a doctor with bad bedside manner. Somehow we have missed the point of humility, wisdom, understanding, love, long-suffering, and compassion.
  3. Clear precursor to Christian persecution in the West. As long as we continue to misapply our calling and commission, misinterpretation can easily grow into persecution. There is a great difference between warranted and unwarranted persecution. Warranted persecution is dying for Christ in midst of extreme circumstances. But it is dying as a martyr not like what we see in terroristic Islam with suicide bombers and homicidal actions. In modernity and in the West, it can best be seen in the killing spree that recently took place at the junior college in Oregon. The killer asked his victims if they were Christians before he shot them to death. Those who said “Yes” they were Christians paid for it with their lives as martyrs. Perhaps it is only because of the nature of connectivity today but it appears as though these incidents are on the rise in our homeland and abroad.
  4. Changed lives are still relevant. The Christian and others see changed lives as relevant and necessary for healthy living, prosperity, and good fortune after death. We have a long history dating back to our Judeo roots that clearly shows the benefit in healthy change. There are hundreds of millions of testimonies of people once living in an unhealthy direction, who then have an experience with God and are now living in a healthy direction. For the Christian, it is a no brainer. Who does not want to live in more healthy ways? Who does not want the best for their fellow man? That being said, the greatest change of all is seen as once being spiritually dead in one’s trespasses and sins and then being alive in Christ with the health and promise of eternity.
  5. Changed lives are no longer relevant to our culture. “No longer” implies that change was once relevant. It could be that with all the prosperity and security afforded the West, that we have forgotten what it is like to be dead in our trespasses and sins. We are quickly moving into an era where what was once seen as right is now wrong and vice versa. Historically when a nation moves in these directions, it is not long before that nation ceases to be great and in some cases ceases altogether. All the more need for conversion in the Christian mindset. Another reason for the lack of relevance, can be when a nation sees no evil. Christians in the West are equally guilty of this and may add validity to point number two above. When we live in such a way as to believe that no real enemy exists, we become complacent, ignorant and foolish. We perish for want of purpose and meaning. Not to mention, the only thing left is to seek all things selfish and eventually godless. By attrition, we morally become the antithesis of healthy human beings and society as we know it crumbles. In point four above, I mentioned “Christians and others”, again and historically these things mentioned have been true of religion in general.
  6. Our culture believes that changed lives are not truly changed. Some may argue that change is a misnomer. That change never truly happens. Instead what we have is a natural maturing process. Proponents of this method or way of thinking are Mental Health workers, Social Workers, Medical personnel, some scientists (i.e. Anthropologists) and various other fields that research societal development and trends. As a Christian with a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, I can safely say that as much as certain fields within these respective disciplines want to be different, they are not mutually exclusive. In fact, these disciplines have more in common with Christianity than different. Both seek healthy change for one and both currently see healthy as the same at least through the life span of human beings. Both carry a sense of “Good order and discipline” and a kind of organic morality. Granted such observations and practices do not save a person from eternal damnation but they do teach a method of living peaceably within mankind. Therefore, other disciplines outside of religion see, practice, covet and go to great lengths trying to “counsel” the lesser behaviors out of a person and encourage healthier behavior and outcomes through therapy and sometime even medicinal uses. Why make these efforts if change does not truly happen?
  7. Our culture believes that changing someone’s life should be illegal! I understand the caution here and even the reasoning. As a Christian, I do not want nor do I seek for others to change me. I very literally seek and ask God to change me. But it took the greatest change ever for me to arrive at that conclusion. The greatest change is salvation. Then and only then can I shout with King David the Psalmist and say, “Search me, O God and know my heart; try me and know my thoughts; see if there be any wicked way in me and lead me in your ways everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24A request such as this requires an uncomfortable vulnerability. A person who does not know Christ as savior does not understand the importance of these verses. It is foolishness to them. To take it a step further, it can even be scary or offensive. The lost actually think they are in control of themselves, their environment, society, and eventual outcomes. The reality is they and we are not. When it comes down to it, there is very little we actually control and the knowledge of that vulnerability can make people act in some very interesting ways. As Soldiers we see it when people deploy. When faced with possible death, people can become very self-centered. Their actions are not in keeping with the Army values of selfless service. A person cannot practice true selflessness without personal conviction and care for others. The ultimate example of selflessness was demonstrated by Jesus on the Cross. He laid down His life for all mankind in order to defeat sin, death and hell once and for all. By doing so, heaven is now open to you and me. All we have to do is say “YES”, “THANK YOU”, and Share the good news with someone else.

If sharing Jesus Christ with others became illegal tomorrow, would you still spread the good news?

Mijikai Mason
Disclaimer: The thoughts and views published on the Veterans to Christ blog are those of Mijikai Mason and in no way are meant to represent the United States Army or the Armed Forces.

Bio: Mijikai Mason is an Ordained Southern Baptist minister and Chaplain in the United States Army. He has been in the Army for 26 years both as an enlisted Soldier and now as an Officer. He has been stationed at various bases in the United States and in United States Army Garrison Schweinfurt, Germany. He holds an undergraduate degree in Religion from the University of Mobile, a Master of Divinity degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in Theology and Evangelism and a Master of Arts degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Webster University. Chaplain (MAJ) Mijikai Mason was selected by the Army in 2013, to become a Family Life Chaplain and began his service in this field starting 15 May 2015. He is the Deputy ESC Chaplain and Family Life Chaplain for the 593 Expeditionary Support Command at Joint Base Lewis McCord. He has deployed four times: Desert Storm (1991), Iraq twice (2005-2006; 2007-2008), and Afghanistan (2012-2013). He has a total of 42 months deployed in combat and logistics operations. Mijikai and his wife, Ashley, have been married for 17 years this May and live near Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington with their four daughters.