I saw a Facebook post that pictured a three-dimensional billboard showing a crucified Jesus with the words “Live for me” and “I died for you.” There were more than 1,700 comments. One, in particular, caught my eye as I was scrolling through:
“Religion is very personal, and I feel that no religion should be pushed on others who are not of that faith. It annoys the daylights out of me when Jehovah's Witnesses come knocking at my door!!! There are so many different religions in the world. How do we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Christianity is the one, true, right religion? All other religions believe that they also are the "right" religion. Yes, I believe for me, Christianity is the right religion. But I cannot push that on others. I do believe that there is a higher power that created all of our world. For me, the most important thing is to have a belief, to be sincere in it, and not to push it on others.”
As I read that comment I realized that this person summed up in a short paragraph what many are saying as churchgoers. That is certainly not the first time I have heard someone who claims to be a Christian publicly espouse that line of thinking. As a matter of fact, I know Christian leaders who espouse the very same things! Let’s look carefully at what is being said here.
To begin with, I would agree that “Religion is very personal…” But how does it follow that just because it is personal it should therefore be kept private? Each person’s political views are also very personal. Does it follow that because my political ideology is personal it should therefore remain private? I’m pretty sure our national flag would be the Union Jack if the colonists had embraced that line of thinking.
Most of us have a personal take on the COVID vaccine. Can anything be more personal than an injection into my bloodstream? Does it follow that since it is personal I should keep my opinion of the vaccine to myself? It is patently ludicrous to suggest that personal equates to private in life’s most important facets.
But that is only the beginning of the nonsense. “I feel that no religion should be pushed on others who are not of that faith.” The key to this is, of course, the word “pushed.” Don’t forget the context in which this statement was made. A billboard on the side of the road elicited this comment. Apparently, to this faithful and devout churchgoer, no attempt to publicly share your faith in the person and work of the Savior should ever be publicly foisted upon people outside of the four walls of the local church! How’s that for commitment to the Great Commission? “Go…and make disciples…” (Matthew 28:19) doesn’t have the ring of a request. “If it doesn’t bother anyone or embarrass yourself” isn’t tacked on to it. There is a reason it is called a “Commission.”
Take a breath and keep going. Did you notice how the frustrated religionist writes off all evangelism by using the Jehovah’s Witnesses as a scapegoat? This individual’s annoyance at having to speak to a Jehovah’s Witness seems to have provided adequate justification for never sharing Christ. How convenient. That is like saying that since I got frustrated with a telemarketing call I have decided never to use a phone again! Absurd!
Next up? Flagrant hypocrisy or gross inconsistency…take your pick! On the one hand “Christianity is the right religion” for this person. On the other hand “How do we know…that Christianity is the one, true, right religion?” So, let me get this straight. This person claims to have embraced Christianity even though there is no way to know if Christianity is true? This is where so many are at as they sit in the pew on Sunday. Claiming to stake their eternal destiny on that which they cannot know is true and isn’t worth sharing with others.
“I do believe that there is a higher power that created all of our world.” Yes and according to the Bible you claim to embrace that power has a name: Jesus! Apparently, our Facebook commenter either doesn’t know or highly regard John 1:3 & 10, or Colossians 1:16, or Hebrews 1:2.
Finally, the coup de grâce of common sense is unashamedly revealed. Here we go: “the most important thing” (did you get that?) “is to have a belief, to be sincere in it, and not to push it on others.” While that sounds so inviting and tolerant and open-minded, here is what it really means. I can believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died to take away my sin (John 3:16) and that he made it crystal clear that whoever believes in Him must “Go…and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19) but I don’t really have to. Because despite the clear teaching of Jesus and the Bible “I cannot push that on others.” Jesus specifically addressed this kind of “believing” in His closing remarks in the Sermon on the Mount. He spoke of the ruination of the foolish person who “hears these words of mine and does not do them” (Matthew 7:26).
The church is rife with this kind of thinking. This is nothing less than a childish attempt to take the cross out of Christianity for the convenience of the pew pundit. Actually, it’s worse. It’s cowardice and/or narcissism. It’s “I’ve got my salvation. Good luck to the rest of you.”
Jesus made some stark and powerful truth claims that people like our friend on Facebook either don’t know or don’t care to embrace. For one thing He said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). He also said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). I hate to be the one to break this to those who concur with the Facebook commenter but being annoyed at how others live out their faith is no justification or excuse for turning away from what we clearly know is the word and will of Jesus Christ.
Finally, Jesus said, “Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him” (John 5:23). How exactly does it honor God to acknowledge that while you believe Jesus died for your sins it is not right to suggest He died for everyone’s sins? How does it honor the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ to say that there are other equally valid ways to receive eternal life? That is exactly what you are saying when you imply that Christianity is salvific for you but not those who believe their religion is right. They found another way. And we sure wouldn’t want to annoy anyone about our way, right?
And by the way…isn’t a Facebook comment telling me not to push my faith on others itself quite pushy? I mean, who does this person think she is to tell me what to do or not to do with something as personal as my religion? It really annoys the daylights out of me when people on Facebook intrude into a conversation to tell me how I ought to live my life. There are so many different opinions in the world. How do we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that hers is right? I believe my opinion is right for me and hers is right for her. Why does she try to push her opinion on others in a very public Facebook post? I wish she had been a bit more sincere in her own advice and not pushed it on me (some people cannot recognize sarcasm so just to make sure you know…this paragraph was a sarcastic, albeit accurate, reflection of the commenters post).
There is no light in someone who claims to be a Christian while also believing in other means of salvation. Christianity is an all-or-nothing proposition. You’re in for a penny, in for a pound…or you’re not in.
And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12)
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes… (Romans 1:16).