Friday, November 10, 2006

Evangelism in the modern world

The Church is facing the greatest challenge in a world where many religions have attained a significant presence all over, even in countries once predominantly Christian. With all the developments in science and technology, man today has reached a state where he will not accept even if God returns to earth in whatever form.

As Christians we are asked to be active evangelists, so are Muslims and to a lesser degree by Hindus, Buddhists and others. The Cambridge dictionary defines an evangelist as a person who tries to persuade people to become Christians, often by traveling around and organizing religious meetings. This was exactly what our earlier Christians did. At that time propagating the Gospel was to people in lands who have never heard of Jesus and God, but today the scenario is totally different. All nations have well established religions of their own and there is a need to re-look at evangelism in the context of the modern world.

Man possesses the egotistic belief that his own religion is the best and is the only way to God and he has the obligation to convert others to his faith so that they too can be redeemed. Just imagine the chaos that will result if followers of all the world’s religions go round trying to convert others to their own faith. The recent false SMS rumors regarding Muslims being converted to Christianity should be enough to highlight the serious repercussions it can have even in a small multi-racial and multi-religious country like ours.

If we continue to evangelize as we used to like our early Christians, we will end up creating a lot of turmoil and violence in the world. History has shown that those who succumb to conversion are the poor, downtrodden, marginalized and suppressed, not the rich and powerful. It would be morally wrong for us to take advantage of the impoverished state of these under-privileged sections of society who are most susceptible to conversion.

In the context of the modern world, as Christians, what should be our stand on this important role of evangelism? Why has God allowed so many religions in the world today? Don’t they all lead their followers to Him? Is ours the only true one and all others false?

We go round to convert others to our faith, not realizing it causes so much rift and subsequent break up of a once united happy family. Will Christ approve our actions to destroy the peace and harmony in a family by converting one of their members to Christianity?

Our faith is not in the rituals that we perform but rather it is God’s love deeply rooted in our hearts and lives and it can never be taken away by persuasion or force unless we willingly give it up ourselves. Therefore it would be futile to try and persuade someone to convert to some other faith; he may adopt the new rituals but not change the true faith in his heart.

So what should evangelism mean to us today? As Christians we should first convert ourselves and align our lives in keeping with the teachings of Christ. We should reflect this love of Christ onto to others by our words and deeds. By seeing Christ in us, others should be converted to become better humans in their own religions.

In short, to be an evangelist in today’s modern world, one must become the agent of Christ in our daily living. It will not be easy but it is an obligation we must try to fulfill.

Dr.Chris Anthony

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