Wow! This is a hard topic. Let’s start by dealing with some basic Christian assumptions;
- God loves all people (John 3.16). There is no question that all people are loved and valued by God. In fact, all humans are of such value to God the Father that he designated his only Son as a sacrifice. That’s right, Jesus died for all people, even the ones that I do not like.
- Jesus is God’s plan for the redemption/ salvation of humanity (John 14.6). Jesus made it very clear that all people are eligible for eternal life in heaven, but only those who follow him (Jesus) are admitted.
- God does not want anyone to miss out on salvation (2 Peter 3.9). We learn in the Bible that one reason for the delay in the end of the world is to provide opportunities for the lost to be saved.
If these assumptions are true, it means that God loves Buddhists as much as Christians, Muslims as much as Methodists, Atheists as much as anyone.
So, how should we behave toward those around us who do not share our faith?
- We should love them with the love of Christ. Remember that Jesus talked about offering a cup of water to the least of his brothers. That includes everyone. Regardless of our theological, spiritual or political differences, we are to love all God’s children. (Matthew 25)
- We should look for opportunities to share our faith with those who are not- yet Christians. This does not mean that we should be preaching, judging or berating those outside our circle of fellowship. It means that we should be extending the circle to include more and more people.
- We should be praying for those who oppose the gospel of Christ (Matthew 5.44). Although we may be tempted to position individuals of different faiths as enemies, Jesus will not allow it. Instead of hating others, we should be praying.
- We should open ourselves to different experiences and expressions of God’s world and witness. We have a tendency to close ourselves off from anything that is not familiar and comfortable. However, God invented African, Caribbean and Middle-Eastern cultures. We should embrace them, and not try to conform others to our ideals as conditions for their inclusion in the Kingdom of God.
You know by now that my heart is for the evangelization of all people. Please know that to evangelize the world we must not force conversions of unwilling individuals. We will not win converts by involving ourselves in elitist name-calling or enemy-making. Remember that it was Jesus who came to the outcasts, the unpopular and the sinners. We should be doing the same.