One of the things people ask of ministry to the cults is, “Why do you do it?” There was a time when it hardly needed explaining but now, even within some parts of the church, there are those who ask whether it is really altogether Christian to challenge other religions. Somehow it doesn’t seem altogether respectable, especially in a world where, if people want a religion at all, they shop for one. I mean, you wouldn’t rummage through other people’s purchases down at the department store, identifying fashion victims, criticising colour combinations - at least not to their faces.
There are two reasons why we do it. The first, and by far the most important, is that people pin their eternal hopes on their religious choices and God has commanded that Christians should “Go into all the world telling the good news.” People concerned about eternal things need to hear eternal truths and be warned about those things that will prove ultimately false and empty.
Jude wrote of his eagerness to write about the plain Christian message being overtaken by an urgent need to sound a warning:
“Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.
For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (Jude 3-4)
The second reason is that people make important life choices based on their religious convictions. From where and how they live and vocational choices to life and death choices, people are informed by their faith.
A Mormon missionary typically gives up two years of his life between the ages of 19 and 21 years, just when his contemporaries will be forging ahead in their education and career choices. A Jehovah’s Witness will make life and death choices as he and/or his family faces major surgery while their religion forbids blood transfusions. Devout people of all religions sacrifice time and resources and make incredible sacrifices for their faith.
Not until you witness in others or experience for yourself the disappointment, confusion and pain of discovering that you sacrificed for an empty philosophy (Col.2:8) can you understand the drive to ensure that faith informed choices are fully informed choices. If a religion makes converts and keeps adherents by guarding the faith from close scrutiny, if it wins people over by manipulation and deception, if it claims to be “the way” but denies the truth about Christ who is “The Way”, then people deserve to know it. Like Jude, we love nothing more than to talk about “our common salvation” but, like Jude, we are overtaken by an urgent need to contend for the faith and appeal to other Christians to do the same, for the health of the church and for the common good of everyone concerned for eternal things.