Thursday, January 6, 2011

On Forcing Our Beliefs On Others

I think the biggest complaint I hear from non-Christians, regarding Christians, is that we like to "force our beliefs" on other people. They consistently get offended or annoyed because, hey, can't we all just believe what we want to and leave each other alone?

‎First of all: no. To quote the character Emerson Cod from Pushing Daisies, "The truth ain't like puppies, a bunch of them running around, you pick your favorite. One truth! And it has come a-knockin'." I would like to explain why, exactly, we "force our beliefs" upon the unbelievers, and why we consistently "come a-knockin'" even after you have disconnected the doorbell, removed the door knocker, and hidden under your bed.

Christians operate under a set of beliefs that can be found in the Bible. The primary belief, especially in terms of sharing the Gospel, is that Jesus is "the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through [him]" (John 14:6). Jesus is the way, the only Way, to a positive afterlife (commonly known as "Heaven"), and, many of us contend, the only Way to goodness and virtue in this life.

We could simply believe that for ourselves, and have good lives and afterlives for ourselves, not worrying about what happens to other people, except that selflessness is a tenet of Christianity as well. When asked what was the greatest commandment, Jesus's response was, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:36-40). So, if I love my neighbor - neighbor being loosely defined as anyone with whom I may come in contact - and I believe that my neighbor will live a dissatisfying mortal life and an unbearable post-life eternity without Jesus, it is only reasonable to do everything in my power to bring that person to Jesus, as soon as possible.

We don't always. We worry about mockery, insults, minor persecution, or losing the friendship. But should we? For Jesus said in his Sermon on the Mount, "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Matthew 5:11). The issue of timidity in the face of evangelism or open belief is addressed again and again in the New Testament, always saying that we are blessed by God though we are hated by men for belief and righteousness.

So this is why Christians "force their beliefs" on others. It is senseless to suggest that we should simply let people believe whatever they like, and that it does not matter. To suggest this shows a fundamental lack of understanding of the Christian faith. Christianity is not a crutch to get us through this life. It is not a mere set of rules for morality. It is not a philosophy chosen because it sounds nice. There is only one question of importance, in deciding to accept Christianity: is it the Truth?

Obviously, I contend that it is.

As always when I reference Bible verses, I encourage you to look up and read the context for them. is a good source if you don't want to leave your computer or don't have a physical Bible.

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