Yesterday, I ‘sat in’ on guitar at Northeast Community Church here in Fishers (www.northeastcc.org). I do the ‘guest guitarist’ thing somewhat frequently and it’s always fun to contribute at other churches. This one was really fun because they were in the middle of a message series addressing common questions of the faith. The issue at hand was, “Does it matter which religion I follow?”
Rather than having the pastor address the issue himself, they assembled a panel of people from different religions to address the same set of questions – things like “What is the origin of your religion”, “What is the nature of humanity”, “How do I become a follower of your religion”, “Who was Jesus, according to your belief”, etc. The panel consisted of a Buddhist monk, a Muslim Imam, a Christian from the local congregation, and a Jewish leader from a local synagogue.
My day would have been complete if I could somehow have gotten them all to walk into a bar, but I digress…
The format was brilliant: Let them all respond to the same questions, and that’s it. It was not a debate; no one tried to convert anybody; no one got into (much of) an argument. There was no summarizing commentary to conclude “…but Jesus is the REAL way” when they were all done; it was very balanced and respectful.
The idea is, all other religions (some more similar than not) contain elements of truth; Christ is the FULLNESS of truth. By having the panelists present their answers to the same questions, it gives the Holy Spirit the opportunity to reveal that to people.
Which is a great object lesson – when we share the Gospel with people, we don’t have to force or engineer the situation into some sort of persuasive monologue, only to conclude that we’ve failed if the other person doesn’t convert right there on the spot. You share, and trust the Holy Spirit to produce the results – and realize that they may not always happen all at once.
Sometimes, we will be sowing; sometimes we’ll reap. But ask any farmer; sowing precedes reaping – and there is necessarily a time lag between the two.
It will be interesting to see what comes of it within their church. It was a fascinating discussion. Check out the audio from the panel discussion at: http://www.box.net/public/0mn8c1rfo6#f4832400
Get the file called “Does it matter which religion I follow?” It’s almost an hour, but a good listen.