When Jesus was preparing to ascend into Heaven, He told his disciples, “Go, and make disciples of all nations..” This well-known passage is the Great Commission, the main thrust of why we are still here on Earth.
Still, many people are not behind the task of sharing the story and promise of Jesus. Why not? There are a bunch of reasons. One is culture.
I recently went to a museum that was dedicated to Native American life. I quote painted on a wall stated that the “Culture of the Wabanaki was radically changed by interaction with Europeans, small pox and their conversion to Christianity.” Without a doubt, many things change culture. Sometimes those changes are bad. This quote may have implied or may be inferred to say all these changes were bad. Clearly small pox doesn’t do anyone a favor. Today, we are trying to be more “culturally sensitive”. Religious beliefs are a big part of a person’s culture? Is it right to try to change them?
While respecting culture is great, worshipping culture goes too far. Culture changes all the time. The cell phone changed our culture. Email changed our culture. Still, I don’t long for the days of using a pay phone. When it comes to God, it’s the truth, not the culture, that matters.
I would not want a whole life of “rich” cultural stories, practices, ceremonies and beliefs if in the end they prove to be fiction. I want to know that actual being who made me. The imagination of my ancestors is only of passing interest.
Evangelism will change a person’s culture. Worse yet, it could alienate them from family. They may even be persecuted for their new faith. But eternal life and having a life that has God-given purpose is worth all of that by far.
Maybe people’s hesitancy to proclaim Jesus comes from a growing resistance to evangelism. Talking about Jesus will make some angry. We need to share Jesus with a lot of listening and honest questions that respect a person. We need to do it with the humility of a saved sinner. But there is no guarantee that a person won’t go crazy on you. Never be defensive, but if this happens remember Jesus’ words: “Blessed are you when men say all kinds of evil about you and persecute you because of me. Rejoice and be glad for great is your reward in Heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
If someone unnecessarily gets defensive, then you are rewarded and you will have a great story.
We also live in a culture that believes in personal, not universal, truth. Jesus may be the truth for me, but someone else believes in reincarnation, or Islam or merely death. The Bible is unequivocal that Jesus is the only way to Heaven. The reasoning is solid. We are all sinners. God is holy. Jesus is the Son of God who became human to keep the Law for us. There is no one else who could do this. If there were another way to Heaven, then there never would have been this way.
Personal “truth” can still be personal ignorance.
We do not need to convince people of the truth that we have been given. They just need to hear it. The Holy Spirit alone makes a believer. Bring the evidence you have, answer questions if you can, share how God has impacted you, explain God’s plan, but that is all you can do. God must do the rest.
Still afraid? Still offended? God has to prepare us for witness as well.