She told my friend and me that our message was divisive, and if we were ever going to get world peace then people would have to set aside their doctrinal differences and just concentrate on kindness.
I want to point out some problems with what this lady said.
Her view was self-evident
She was basically saying that there would be world peace if everyone believed exactly what she believed . . . well, of course there would, but the same could be said by anyone. There would be world peace if everyone believed exactly the same as me as well. There would be world peace if everyone believed what the Taliban believed. It’s not really profound to say that if everyone agrees then there will be no disagreements.
Her view was self-defeating
This lady approached my friend and me on the street where we were handing out Christian literature and she said we shouldn’t be telling people they are wrong and need to adopt our beliefs. So, I asked her why she was telling us that we were wrong and should adopt her beliefs.
She was jolted by the question and horrified at the suggestion that she was doing what she accused us of. She said, “I’m not telling you you’re wrong.”
“Oh,” I said, “So, you are telling us that we are right?” She hesitated, unsure of how to respond.
I said, “Let’s be clear, we believe that sin is taking people to hell and Jesus Christ is the only Saviour. You don’t believe that. You believe we are wrong. You believe we should stop doing what we are doing and believing what we believe. That’s fine, we aren’t offended by that, but let’s not pretend that we are the only ones trying to change people’s beliefs.”
This is something worth looking out for when people challenge your beliefs. Some might say that it is intolerant to force your beliefs on others, or there is no truth, or no one can know the truth. The moment they utter these statements they condemn their own point of view and contradict themselves.
Her view was self-promoting
I said to her, “Jesus Christ is the one who fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies; He claimed to be the divine Son of God and rose from the dead to vindicate that claim; He appeared to His disciples after His resurrection and told them to spread the gospel across the world to the end of the age. That’s why we believe what we believe and that’s why we are doing what we are doing. Now, you are telling us that we should stop doing what we are doing, so I would ask you what your credentials are – why should we abandon our beliefs in Jesus Christ’s authority and submit to yours?”
She had to acknowledge she couldn’t really produce anything like the credentials Jesus has.
No one can.
It would be fine to forget about Christian doctrine and just focus on kind deeds if Christian doctrine is not true. But if it’s true then the kindest thing we can do is reach as many people as we can with this message.
This lady had a sincere desire for unity and peace. The gospel is the answer. It is a message that calls on people to repent and believe, but repentance and faith cannot be forced. Also, the Lord Jesus expressly prohibited the advance of His kingdom by force (John 18:36). Any aggression done in the name of Christ has been done in disobedience to Him.
Although there is a division the gospel makes, it is not a division between the valuable and the worthless – the gospel says that every human being is intrinsically valuable because we are all made in God’s image. Also, it’s not a division between the good and the bad – the gospel says we are all bad, and yet we are loved by God and His grace reaches out to all. The division is between those who have received His grace and those who haven’t. So, the gospel eliminates any thought of superiority. It provides a foundation for us affirming the value and rights of everyone. And also, it brings people together in a way nothing else can. I told her that I come from a country that has been bitterly divided by religion and politics, and yet I have seen people from the extremes of that divide brought together through Christ. The gospel forms a real unity across all cultures and countries.