We all have so many friends who do not believe in Jesus Christ. I have so many of them too, in India and also abroad, both Indian and foreigners. Of late I am somehow wondering what they must be thinking of us Christians when we are seen actively involved in propagating a ‘religion’ called Christianity? Do they get hurt? Do they misunderstand? Are they preparing to un-friend us? This letter is for all of those friends, whose friendship is so valuable and I would not like to lose.
“He said to them, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation”. This is the command Jesus gave to all His followers, and one of the principal reasons why Christians preach the gospel everywhere. As a believer in Jesus Christ I take this command or the great commission as we call it, very seriously and deem it my duty to preach the good news or the gospel to everyone. I preach the gospel because it has been a good news for me, and because it is a good new for all.
But what is the good news? The good news is that, Jesus, the son of God came into this world as a human being, died for the sins of entire mankind and rose again from death on the third day. Now how does this be a good news? Jesus in His own words said “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son for whoso ever believeth in Him shall not perish but have eternal LIFE”. Jesus promised that everyone who believes in Him shall have eternal life; a life we spend in eternity with God the creator instantly after it ends on earth. In short Jesus came into this world to reconnect people to the creator.
People obviously forgot the creator and started to worship the creation. They sinned against God and broke the relationship with Him. God is holy and therefore he cannot associate with sinners. What Jesus did on the cross was to take the punishment on behalf of all people and thereby exempt them from the wages of sin, which is death. Now because Jesus has already paid the full price for all sins of people, God is not going to judge them, and in fact bless them with abundant and eternal life. What people have to do in order to receive this gift is to just believe in Jesus. That’s it. No human effort is required to reestablish the broken relationship with God. We no longer have to struggle to get rid of our sins that created an unreachable distance between us and God. Because they have all been wiped off by the shedding of blood of Jesus on the cross. This is the good news. The good news is that God does not see those who believe in Jesus as sinners anymore and thereby begin to have a relationship with them.
Now, although I take the commands of Jesus seriously to preach the good news to all people, I fully understand that everybody has the right to disagree. I only hope people would believe, but I have no right to force someone to believe. In fact nobody can force people into believing as it is not a physical but a mental act. If God will be pleased by forcing someone to ‘convert’ He would not have sent Jesus, His only begotten son, to die a humiliating death on the cross. He would have easily made everyone Christian by a single call just like He created the whole universe by the word of His mouth. God is so loving that He gave the people He created a free will, to choose and not to be forced. He did not want people to be like the pre-programmed robots although He could create such. When He made Adam and eve He gave them a choice whether to eat the forbidden fruit or not. God’s plan for man is all about choice, a very personal choice.
It is now very clear that God is not interested in people accepting Him just because someone forced them. He expects people to believe in Him voluntarily and purely out of love rooted from the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross. God expects people to believe that Jesus actually died for their sins, to believe that He died in their place. God is looking for a spiritual conversion of a person, which is to consciously believe in the Truth.
Jesus did not bring with Him a new religion so that someone from other religions should be converted into His. Jesus vehemently opposed ‘religion’ and was totally against any religious means of reaching God, simply because it is impossible. He preached that by believing in the Son of God people would be reconnected to God. It is just that simple. Christianity is no religion. In the Bible there was no mention of a word ‘Christian’ as long as Jesus was ministering on the earth. It was only after the death and resurrection of Jesus that those who followed Christ were ‘called’ as Christians. So those who believe in Jesus will have the privilege of reconnecting with God the creator and have eternal life. This they will have at the expense of Jesus Christ’s death on the cross, which signifies God’s amazing love and grace for mankind. Those who believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus do not convert from one religion to another but will begin to have an intimate relationship with God. We cannot forget that the principal intent of God creating human beings was to have a relationship with them.
I was born to a parents who are Christian, who took a personal decision to believe in Jesus Christ at some point of time in their lives. The world called me Christian by default which is a total misconception. I grew up going to church participating in every ‘religious’ practice. But hardly did I understand that a person cannot be called a Christian just because he is born to Christian parents. Every person with an English name like Peter, John or Mary need not be a Christian.Although as a child I was so ‘religious’, as an adult I lived a life that never pleased God. I lived very far from Him, deeply stuck in sin. But one day I realized how miserable my life is and chose to repent and believe in Jesus Christ as my personal savior. No one forced me to take this decision but I took it after strongly being convicted by God. That was the day when I became a Christian, a day when I became free from sin and ‘religion’. Jesus called this change as being born again. Can you call me a convert now? Definitely YES.
Now what happens if I preach the good news and you do not take the message or believe it? Do you become my enemy? No, never. As I said earlier, my job is to preach the gospel and not to convert. In fact a human being is incapable of converting or saving another human being. When I preach the gospel my sincere hope is that you believe it, grab the opportunity and get reconnected to the Creator and live with Him forever. But the decision to believe or not to believe is yours, and I will not be there in that. If you believe in the gospel,it is not because of me but because of you. And moreover the conviction and faith comes from God and not from people. Because it is written ‘the salvation is of the Lord’. And Jesus also said that “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day”.
I already mentioned earlier that I always preach the gospel with a complete understanding that you have every right to disagree. I also admit that I have no right either to condemn anyone because my savior Jesus Christ whom I believe-in declared that He did not Himself come into this world ‘to condemn but to save’. And please understand that I am not your enemy either! The message of cross is all about God’s love. In fact the foundation of Christianity is love. I therefore preach Love, out of love and I am harmless. I will be delighted if you believe, in fact God will be extremely delighted if you believe, but if you don’t, I am still your friend and so are you mine. It is only spiritually that I travel my own way, The Way I believe in.