Written in 2006
I believe the key missions challenge facing the church today is how to affirm the absolute uniqueness of Christ and work for the conversion of those outside Christ. In our pluralistic society such claims and activities elicit the charge of arrogance.
Sadly, Evangelicals are viewed all over the world as being arrogant, and this belief in Christ’s absolute uniqueness is given as evidence of that. More and more countries, including my own, are enacting legislation to prevent what they call “unethical conversion,” where “unethical” is defined in such a way as to make much of our evangelistic activity illegal.
Whether we like it or not Evangelicals all over the world are connected with America in the minds of people. American foreign policy is very unpopular today, because people say it is arrogant and not willing to truly listen to people of other countries. This adds to the negative attitudes towards those who do evangelism out of the belief that Christ is absolutely unique.
We need to respond to the intellectual challenges to our beliefs and practices. But I believe that the greatest need today is for evangelicals to be known as servants of the people. Others must know that instead of insisting on our rights we are speaking for the rights of others; that instead of attacking our enemies we are forgiving them and doing all we can to bless them; that instead of seeking benefits for ourselves we are going through great inconvenience to help others; that instead of amassing fortunes for ourselves we are giving sacrificially to the poor; and that without alienating those who are considered low down in society we are embracing them as equals.
In today’s world anyone doing evangelism with conversion in view would be ostracised by a major segment of society and even persecuted. But I believe a lifestyle of radical servanthood would challenge the people not only to reconsider their policy of attacking us but also to consider the claims of Christ to their own lives.
National Director, Youth for Christ, Sri Lanka since 1976.