I asked my 1st grader what she would say to a Muslim about what one must do to be saved from hell. She said that one must have faith in Jesus and believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sin. The lost do not need an expert on their form of idolatry but a simple call to the truth of the gospel.
Last year the Charlotte Observer commented on how “Charlotte is noted in the South – long a bastian of Protestatism – as a leading example of the region’s growing religious diversity.” The article goes on to acknowledge the 12 Mosques throughout the city with an estimated Muslim population of 10,000+. There is the largest Jewish population in North Carolina, which includes the 54 acre Shalom Park in South Charlotte. “There are Vietnamese, Chinese and Cambodian Buddhist temples here. And the Hindu Center of Charlotte, serves about 4,000 families, is building a grand temple that will measure nearly 20,000 square feet and rise to a height of 81 feet.” This is but a small sample, so the obvious question is, are we as Christians ready to address those of other religious faiths? My answer is a loud…YES! Do most of us believe we are ready…NO! We need to recover a proper confidence and boldness in the gospel when we encounter those of other faiths.
But why do Christians feel so unequipped to reach out to those of other faiths? I believe the answer ranges from a fear of man to the assumption that with each religion there needs a special crafted gospel message for that distinct religion. Paul has a quite simple paradigm for reaching other religions with the good news that is often overlooked. All humans are either “under wrath” or “under grace.” (Ephesians 2:3-5) Even when Paul shows a simple understanding of other religions, like in Acts 17 in his reference to the Athenian “unknown god,” his focus is to draw attention to knowledge of the one true God.
Two Helpful Insights from Acts 17
Listen and Observe (verse 22, 23). Simply because the gospel fits people into two categories does not mean that we entirely ignore their religious background. Rather we come in humility and gentleness, asking questions seeking to understand them as individuals made in the image of God, their worldview, and other important influences in their life (family relationships, dissatisfaction with their religion, perception of Christianity, etc). While it may be helpful to take a class on reaching a particular people, it is not essential.
Boldly Call them to Repent (verse 30, 31). All man-made religious systems are under bondage to sin. Though the cultural expression of false worship might look different, the roots are the same. They all are in some way “suppressing the truth.” We do not have to have a perfect “redemptive angle” from their culture to use as a platform to the gospel. The majority of our time, like for Paul, can be focused on giving them the truths of the Christian Faith and calling them to repent. Since all men have one problem (sin) and one solution (Jesus) you are more equipped than you realize. Thus you should have greater boldness to reach out to the foreigners in our midst.
While cultural anthropology and studies of other religions may be interesting, the Word of God is what will bring transformation. Muslims do not need some clever bridge from the Quran to the Bible but simply a Christian who loves them, loves Jesus and can simply articulate the gospel. Muslims, Hindus, and Mormons all need more than anything to hear that “the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) So who has God put in your path? Is it a co-worker or neighbor who is from another country? Take the initiative, be inquisitive, and God will open the door for you to share the simple but profound message of the gospel. If a 1st grader can do it, so can you.