It is easy to overlook the need to engage in evangelism. Our thoughts can often be consumed with the idea we are being intrusive when we challenge the beliefs of others with the words of the Bible. Two interesting perspectives on this issue come from two committed atheists. Both, whilst not believing in God themselves, recognise the point of evangelism and appear to have far greater respect for those who do it than those who bow to the pressure of that which is deemed culturally acceptable.
The New Testament offers a picture of God, who does not sound at all vague. He has sent His Son to earth. He has distant plans for each of us personally and can communicate directly with us. We are capable of forming a direct relationship, individually with Him, and are commanded to try. We are told that this can be done only through His Son. And we are offered the prospect of eternal life — an afterlife in happy, blissful or glorious circumstances if we live this life in a certain manner.Friends, if I believed that, or even a tenth of that, how could I care which version of the prayer book is used? I would drop my job, sell my house, throw away all my possession, leave my acquaintances and set out into the world burning with desire to know more and, when I had found more, to act upon it and tell others.Far from being puzzled that the Mormons and Adventists should knock on the door, I am unable to understand how anyone who believes that which is written in the Bible could choose to spend their waking hours in any other endeavor.
The second comes from Penn Jillette (see video below).
Both men recognise the purpose and driving force behind evangelism. What is interesting is that, although they do not believe in God or any form of life everlasting, both agree that it is more loving to share a sincere faith in an attempt to save a soul from death than it is to uphold cultural customs and social etiquette. Far from respecting those who believe their faith should be kept private, Penn Jillette goes as far as to see it as an act of utter hatred akin to leaving someone to be hit by an oncoming truck.
Rico Tice, founder of Christianity Explored, puts the issue most starkly:
What [Some people] tend to say to themselves is “my faith is a personal and private thing, it helps me in my life but I wouldn’t dream of inflicting it upon other people”… On judgment day, those people you haven’t told, will they look across at you and say “why didn’t you tell me?” and you’ll say “well it was culturally inappropriate.” I’m afriad that there is a need to tell people the gospel and there are times in this culture where it’s becoming less and less acceptable but that doesn’t mean we don’t pass this message on. They must have their sin paid for at the cross or it will be paid for in Hell.
If we claim to love anybody then we should be doing all we can to tell them the saving news of the gospel. In the words of Penn Jillette ‘how much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?’