The country is shaken by the shocks of the Mumbai blasts and every newspaper is filled with the event and its after effects. The persecution of christians in Orissa and the condenmable acts of the terrorists have occured in quick succession. George Anthony Paul exhorts, in the light of the scriptures, to preach to the oppressor as Christ did.
Bold witnessing converts a terrorizing king: There is a naïve belief by many today that we can simply dialogue, if we find similarities between Christian Faith and Islam. But, such an approach of equating our religion with their’s, only leads to confusion and contempt. Muslims are far more respectful and willing to listen to a person who acknowledges the great division that separates the two religions.
This we see demonstrated by the approach of Francis of Assisi. Though we may not agree with everything that Francis of Assisi did or preached, we should certainly agree with his bold approach of preaching Christ to a Muslim ruler of Egypt, Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil. Before Francis of Assisi went to see the Sultan, it is said that Sultan Kamil issued a decree saying, "Anyone who brought him the head of a Christian would be awarded with Byzantine gold pieces". In spite of such obvious threat to life, Francis of Assisi went to preach Christ to the people of Egypt and to the Sultan. The result of such bold preaching was the conversion of Sultan Kamil on his death bed.
Bold witnessing of a pastor who converts an RSS worker: Even the best efforts of the RSS and the VHP can’t stop a change of heart. Vijay Pradhan, 35, who is now hiding in Raikia, was an active RSS worker for eight years. He worked with Lakshmanananda and conducted several reconversions. He also trained many RSS workers in the art of reconverting Christians to Hinduism. “I taught people what I was taught, that I must serve the country by fighting the Muslim and Christian religions, which are foreign to us. Our culture had to be saved. Then, one day a young pastor told me about Jesus. I was surprised at his courage in accosting me, but I was curious. This man told me that I could have eternal life with Jesus,” says Pradhan.
The one-time RSS worker says he was confused after this encounter. “I began searching for Jesus because I was intrigued by what I was told about him. On January 26, 1994, I challenged the creator. I asked why there are so many religions if there is one creator. I said whoever you are, I need to know you by name. I threatened that I would turn atheist if the Creator didn’t show himself. I couldn’t sleep at night. At 4.30 am, as I was getting ready for yoga, I saw a human-like figure. There was plenty of light. A voice said, ‘I am the one you are looking for,’” says Pradhan.
He says his thought process changed after this. He began spreading the gospel and going to church. “The RSS workers came to me and asked me why I had converted. They asked me how much money I was given. I used to ask people the same things. But I wasn’t paid. The RSS searched for me. I had to hide in the jungles. As long as there is trouble, I will hide,” he says. Pradhan says only those who are called by Jesus are the true converts. “Only the attraction of God can make them that. Hindus become Christians, they are never made into Christians.
Our Excuses and Reasons from Scripture:
However, one may argue, that nothing has changed because of such conversions. The terrorists are still waging war in the name of Islam. The RSS are still reconverting people to Hinduism. I think people who raise such objections are bothered about the numbers; they want to count how many have converted. Rather than being like Christ who spoke the truth even when people rejected and crucified him, we often like to preach only to people who accept us.
According to the standards of such people who look for numbers, even Christ would be a failure because he had only 12 disciples. Further we should ask, should we speak about Christ only when people accept? Even if people reject the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, it would not change the historic fact of crucifixion and resurrection? This being the case, why should one preach only when people accept us? We should preach to all, and must not be bothered about being accepted or rejected.
I propose such preaching because I see the same in Acts 7; where Stephen preached to his killers. What was the result of Stephen's preaching? Jesus also proclaimed the truth to Pilate, saying, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me." What was the result of such bold proclamation? It was death of Christ, and salvation for mankind.
I suggest this method of evangelism and preaching because God in the Old Testament in Isaiah 1:18; asked people who are oppressive towards the fatherless and the widows, who deny justice and do evil, to reason with him. In the same way, Jesus also reasoned with the oppressors of his time. Jesus reasoned by asking questions.
Reading through the four Gospels reveals that Jesus asked well over 100 questions to his critics and his questioners. And many were, “Why” questions. E.g.: Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? Matthew 15:3; Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Matthew 22:18; And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things. Matthew 21:24.
Because, Jesus Christ asked such questions and also answered the religious leaders of his day in such manner, they plotted to kill him, and eventually killed him.
Jesus knew that he would die such a death, yet it did not deter him from speaking the truth in such a way. Matthew 17:22, 23; And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry.
Knowing fully well that he would die in such a manner, Jesus boldly spoke the truth about Himself. In Matthew 26:64, 65; Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses?
Jesus wasn’t scared of being branded as a Blasphemer nor was he scared of death, but was willing to face every thing to preach and testify to the truth. Should we follow this example of Jesus or should we speak politically correct language and dilute the truth, which would be unlike Jesus?