by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
In February 2019 Barna Group released the results of a poll which they titled, “Almost Half of Practicing Christian Millennials Say Evangelism Is Wrong.” They divided their survey group into Millennials, GenX, Boomers, and Elders. Almost all surveyed agreed with the statements:
- “Part of my faith means being a witness about Jesus” (95-97%),
- “The best thing that could ever happen to someone is for them to come to know Jesus” (94-97%)
- “When someone raises questions about faith, I know how to respond” (86-92%)
But an odd reaction was given to the statement: “It is wrong to share one’s personal beliefs with someone of a different faith in hopes that they will one day share the same faith” 47% of Millennials agreed! Compared to 27% of GenX, 19% of Boomers, and 20% of Elders. In other words, while people believe it is fine to talk about your beliefs, it is wrong to convert someone to your belief.
It reminded me that the Jews did not like Jesus’ miracles because they were attracting followers. It was a major reason they decided to kill Jesus (John 11:47-53). It didn’t matter that the miracles showed that God was involved. Nor did they like that the apostles teaching that Jesus was alive (Acts 4:1-4). They couldn’t argue against the miracle done by the apostles, but they did order that they stop teaching (Acts 4:13-17), to which the apostles declined (Acts 4:18-22). The apostles were arrested again and beaten for continuing to talk about Jesus (Acts 5:40-42). Stephen was arrested after priests were being converted to Christianity (Acts 6:7,12). When Stephen testified of seeing Jesus alive, they killed him (Acts 7:54-60). Persecution arose against all Christians, driving them out of Jerusalem (Acts 8:1-3), which only led to the further spread of the gospel (Acts 8:4).
Eventually, the Roman persecution came because Christians were teaching that the Roman gods, including the emperor, were not gods at all. Many Christians were killed, but ultimately it led to the downfall of the Roman Empire.
A belief of Islam is that a Muslim may not convert from Islam. A majority of Islamic jurists regarding leaving Islam a crime that deserves the death penalty [Wikipedia, “Apostasy in Islam”]. The Bible is banned from many Muslim countries in a vain attempt to hinder its teachings.
Why teach a message that so many do not want to hear? Because it is commanded of Christians (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:16). The message is to be taught to everyone. Christians understand that there is no other way to salvation (Acts 4:12). And it is a truth that cannot be suppressed (Acts 4:19-20).
People fear this truth. They cannot disprove it, so the common response is to declare speaking of it to be wrong. Sometimes this ban is enforced by death. I pray that this country does not follow that trend, but regardless, the message will continue to be taught.
"And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. "Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law'; and 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household.' He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it" (Matthew 10:28-39).