Evangelism (part 1)


Question:

What happens when someone has never heard of your God/Christ?  I just want to know what you think, since this is one of the main reasons that I turned away from religion in elementary school (I'm in high school now and am an agnostic atheist). How is it fair that people in other countries who have never heard of your religion will burn in hell for not following it?   And if they don't, then how can you proclaim Christianity as the only way to salvation?  Religion is generally region specific. Christianity is only prevalent in Western countries and their former colonies. No one can control where they are born and thus what religion and culture they are born into. What happens to a person who leads a good life, but doesn't belief in your faith because they have never been exposed to it?

My Reply:
Your question is very common among non-believers and those who want to disprove or judge God.
First of all, Christianity is not about an "it" but a "who".  Christians don't follow Christianity, we follow Jesus.  The religion is the doing-part in response to our relationships with God through Jesus Christ.  In fact, if you don't have that relationship, then you really can't call yourself a Christian to begin with.  And when I say a relationship, I don't mean giving yourself to Jesus then having nothing to do with Him.  A relationship is an ongoing thing...constant communication (prayer), regular reading of His Word, baptism into the Body where He's the Head, engaging in the sacraments and fellowshipping with other body parts (Christians), studying and applying His Word (which you find in the Bible), listening for His direction and obedience to them, putting what we learn to practice, taking on God's character...anything else is just "religious".
Many who fall away from Christianity often do so because they never had that relationship in the first place.  Sometime they never picked up on that part, other times they focused so much on the doing that they didn't put in time with the relational part, and just burned out.  I'm assuming you'd fit in with this type of "religious" person.
So now say you're in a burning building with several other people. The building consists of 4 tall walls and a roof, no windows, and any doors are solid and locked from the outside. So there's no way out, and everybody agrees that such is the situation. It doesn't matter if you believe in fire or not, or if you believe in smoke or not. In fact, it doesn't even matter if anybody sees or smells the smoke or feels the heat. Point is, the building's burning, about to collapse, and there's no way out.
Now, let's say that you somehow find a way out. What do you do?  Do you run to the exit without telling anybody else?  Or do you inform everybody else in the room of your discovery so that they too may escape the flames?
My point of mentioning this is that sin is present, whether you believe it or not. Jesus is also the only way to be freed from the sin, whether you believe in Him or not (although you can only be freed from sin through Jesus). The second part is a response to the cop-out of what about those who don't know. The point here is that if you find the escape route, it's your responsibility to tell others so they too may escape the flames. In the same way, regardless of where you were born or into what culture, it's the responsibility of the "saved" person (or the person who discovered the way to safety) to tell others about the Way (which is Jesus Christ).
As for Christianity being a "Western" religion, Christianity began in the East, for it's the fulfillment of Judaism, which also originated in the East.  And the ONLY reason Christianity is known in the West is because of people who knew Jesus Christ that traveled from the East, to the West, in order to tell people who didn't know (for though much of the original colonizing was to escape the Church of England, much was also to evangelize to the natives of this land).  And so even today, Christianity continues to grow, moving in every direction, due to those who know Jesus.
I've heard your argument before that says if you were born in Iran for instance, you're bound to be a Muslim, or a Mormon if in Utah, or a Hindu if in India.  But then there ARE Christians living in those countries.  Plus, Christians and Christian teachings are everywhere, so where you live or were born no longer (or maybe never) holds water.  Also on that note, thanks to the internet, you can research "it" (called "it" for the sake of the discussion) from anywhere in the world.  ANY question about Christianity, Jesus, salvation through Christ, etc., you can find the answer to or research on.  Therefore, you can no longer use the excuse of being born here or there, for if you really want to know, you can find out.


So the question turns around now, stares you in the face, and asks, how will YOU respond?  Going back to the burning house, will you listen to the person trying to show you the way out, or will you use your excuses of culture and location as reasons to remain where you are?


---Pastor Andy
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