In the last few articles we’ve been looking at how best to witness to people of false religions. Today I want to encourage you to provide for the physical needs of people leaving false religions.
Leaving a religion can be an enormous challenge. Usually it is not simply a change of intellectual assent, e.g. I used to believe in Allah, now I believe in Jesus. Often there are other ties that will be broken as well, bringing significant pain. One of the biggest ties can be economic.
A great benefit of religion is the social support that comes from those who share your belief. Christianity is known for this social support but so are false religions. One author gives a good example of this in Mormonism: ‘The social welfare program of the Mormons is another excellent inducement to Mormons to remain faithful, since if the “bread winner” of the family is injured, loses his job, or dies, the church undertakes the care and support of his family. So effective is this work that during the Great Depression of the 1930’s no Mormon families went hungry and no soup kitchens or bread lines disfigured the domain of Mormondom.’ But when someone leaves such a false religion, often that financial support immediately dries up.
It’s easy to witness to people of false religions and have no regard for the enormous pressures that some of them may be under. The witnessing Christian should be particularly careful to understand the financial constraints that may be keeping the person from Christianity. The Christian should be ready to provide for the needs of his fellow Christians: ‘Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality’ (Romans 12:13). And this includes new Christians who are leaving behind the support systems of false religions. Otherwise the person may become like the seed that Jesus spoke of in the parable of the sower: ‘Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful’ (Mark 4:18-19). The Christian needs to recognise the physical worries of this life and address them accordingly – it is to your shame if you don’t.
Do you recognise the physical needs of people of false religions? Or do you heartlessly only consider their spiritual needs, ignoring the needs of the body that God gave them?