In the past articles we’ve been looking at how best to witness to people of false religions. Last week I encouraged providing for the physical needs of people leaving false religions, this week I want to focus on social needs.
Humans are created in the image of God which means that we reflect God’s character here on earth. One of the characteristics of God that we reflect is that we are relationship beings. Just as God lives in relationship with himself (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), so we are created to have relationships with other people. When God viewed Adam in the Garden of Eden, he said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone’ (Genesis 2:18). So it is part of who we are as humans that we like socialising with other people.
One of the reasons we like having relationships with others is because of the help that they bring. To solve the problem of Adam being alone, God says ‘I will make a helper suitable for him’ (Gen 2:18). And so Eve comes into existence to assist Adam in his work.
But relationships with other people can also be used to help us in sin and sadly this is the case in false religions. Many false religions foster strong social ties with one another to prevent the temptation to deny their religion. When someone in a false religion chooses to become a Christian, they are threatened with a reduction or even complete severance of previous good relationships. Close friends may not want anything to do with the person and family may even make violent attempts to kill the convert.
This is where the Christian family must be prepared to embrace the new convert. As we do, we are partly fulfilling the promise that Jesus makes to his disciples: ‘”I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields–and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life’ (Mark 10:29-30). Christians become the replacement family for the new convert. And where the old family encouraged the person do what is evil, the new Christian family encourages them to do what is right.
Do you welcome new people to Christianity and eagerly build relationships with them?