Let’s avoid these number games

I just read an interesting article about “Why Christianity Failed in India” by self-proclaimed atheist, Tony Joseph, in the secular news magazine Outlook: Why Christianity Failed in India

Rather than fear or be upset with the article, I think it is important for the Indian Christian church to read this article , especially since it has several important lessons for the Church.

However the author uses the infamous 2 per cent number of Christians, to justify his claim of Christianity’s ineffectiveness in India. And it is that use of numbers which we should be very careful to reject. In fact, I feel, number games should be completely avoided when discussing matters of faith and religion.

Common sense would remind us that this “number” of Christians could be much less (because we should be counting “real” Christians in every generation, rather than Christians by birth). Or the “number” could be much more, if we count people who are Christians but do not change their birth records that list their religion as Hindu etc.

In India, numbers are a dangerous game. And to say that Hindus have become less, or Muslims have become more, or that Christians are still less, tend to make the fanatics (from all parts) more fanatical.

And so, let’s learn from (and respond to) the idea that people in India, according to the author, do not need Jesus, do not need the Gospel. India is “more than Christian.” If this is true, then truly it is harder for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven than for a camel to enter the eye of a needle. Similarly, if India does not need the Gospel, then Jesus came for the sick, and not for those who do not need healing.

However, if in India, there are those who “need” the gospel, if there are those who need Jesus, then for them, we hope, the gospel will continue to be proclaimed. For them, the Church would exist without forcing them to change their name. For them, the Christians would sacrifice themselves, because Jesus died and rose for the lost. The love and hope of Jesus is for those who have no more hope in where they currently find themselves.  Let us continue to be faithful to what we are called to do, without worrying about the “results” as the world understands results.

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Philippians 2:11-13 (NIV) (12)Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, (13)for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

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