Christianity vs other World Religions

Joy- Welcome to Asked and Answered,” the podcast series that answers all your mission-related questions. With me in the studio today are Ron and Charis Pearce, welcome back, guys!

Ron- Good to be here.

Joy-Okay, good, so my next question, well, my first question is, all of the stories we hear about India, all of the reports coming back to us from our partners in India, especially post-Covid in this situation, are that the churches are exploding in growth. So my question is how is this happening in India specifically when there are so many other religions, so many other gods, and so many things that they worship vying for the same kind of attention?

Ron-First of all, in India there are basically three religions, alright? But there are, as you say, but the others are small. Hinduism is the big one and then you’ve got a large chunk of the population that is Muslim, so Islamic, and then you’ve got now a growing number of Christians. So those are your big three.

Joy- So no Buddhism in India?

Ron- There might be in the north a bit, stuff like that but not that much. There would be a scattering of the others but we’ll just talk the big ones. So those would be the ones, then you’ve always got a little animism going on. Animism is worshiping the sky and the moon and the stars, trees, etcetera.

Joy- And those are considered kind of folk religions.

Ron- They are, yeah, we just sort of bump them all into one and call it animism. They are folk or not folk, it’s sort of like trying to find who God is but not falling into a big system. It is sort of this belief that God is all around us, all these trees, etcetera. We will worship the creation because we don’t know who the creator is or even if there is one or where he came from or whatever like that. So, therefore, it’s like we’ll just worship the creation. So worship of creation, Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity. So those are the four.

Joy- Would animism be more the tribal, more remote versus…

Ron- Yes, overall yes. Cities as a whole are less religious than countryside’s but at the same time you will have the standard religions of the cities.

<p>Moon and stars</p>
Animism is worshiping the sky and the moon and the stars, trees, etcetera.

Joy- Okay, so when it comes to all those different religions how is Christianity spreading so rapidly after the pandemic?

Ron-Well, here it is basically; the individuals who endured the Covid crisis, these people demonstrated in front of all these other religions that there is a big difference between pure Christianity and all the other world religions that were around them. They had been used to all these billions of gods within Hinduism and those billions of gods they would sacrifice to, believed in that they had power, etcetera but there was no change of life within the beholder. The worshiper didn’t change one little bit because all it was, was an external religion. In Christianity, we believe in God indwelling a believer and that change transforming their lives according to Romans 12:1 – 2 and that transformed life would come out in different ways. The bad parts, the sinful and the evil would be supplanted by the godly and the good and, therefore, now you would have a different person. Covid brought this to life in the fact that those from the other religions were hiding, they were scared, they were greedy, they were hoarding their food. They were just basically being themselves. And then all of a sudden, the Christians showed up and they were loving people and they were sharing their food, they were praying for people, they were counseling. They were doing all of the things that Christians should do and, therefore, the Bible came alive in the lives and the actions of all these believers and then everybody stood back and said so that’s what they’ve been preaching about. So that’s what they stood for. We never really understood Christianity. And, therefore, these people started to come from various big religions, animism too, and they start to say why are you different? And when you say why are you different to a Christian then 1 Peter pops up where it says always be prepared to give account for the hope that lies within you. Why are you different? Why do you have hope? And, therefore, you are proving it by your actions, you’re different, tell me why. And therefore, that is when you are supposed to give the answer and be prepared for that. And that answer is Jesus did this in me, He lives within me, the Holy Spirit is changing me and you know the rest of the story but that’s what it is.

Charis- Covid really magnified the difference between Christians and non-Christians.

Ron- All over the world. And it was a magnification of not just the big issues but the smaller ones too. So the things people never even thought people were looking at, they were looking at. And they are starting to look at our morals or ethics, our values, our characteristics of what was important in our life. And then all of a sudden the Christians, if they were walking with the Lord, let me put a caveat in here, alright? Some people call themselves Christians, I don’t think they really are, but they are going to church, but they are really not walking with God. They have never had a born again experience.

Joy- It’s all external and not internal.

They were doing all of the things that Christians should do and, therefore, the Bible came alive in the lives and the actions of all these believers and then everybody stood back and said so that’s what they’ve been preaching about.

Ron-It’s totally external! It’s like another religion. It does talk about Jesus and everything like that but it has no power and, therefore, it’s when that person understands what Jesus was talking about, about being born again. Or about what Paul was describing is the way of the Christian life. When the New Testament really gets boiled down and says this is a Christian, that’s different than those that are just hanging on to a religion. This is what these people saw and all over the world, they saw the same thing in the tiniest little details of those people’s lives. We became almost invisible and people were looking through the flesh and the blood, bone, to where God was in our lives and starting to spot God-likeness. And that is what drew people to the Lord.

Joy- During Covid, we had talks in a previous podcast I think, specifically about Vietnam and some of the regions coming to Christ there, and the driver in that situation was they were terrified and scared to die and wanted the assurance that Christians had and they wanted to understand that, so would that be the same in India then?

Ron- Same thing, same in India, same in Vietnam. It was funny because in Vietnam people were coming up and they were saying, why are you laughing? Why aren’t you scared? Why aren’t you panicked? This Covid thing is going to wipe us out! And they were walking up with joy and peace and gentleness and goodness and faith. There is a list of those somewhere in the Bible and I think that list is exactly what sets us apart. Now if you want to take it to other parts of the world when a Christian does not behave in those manners and with those characteristics we are then just cast aside and they said well, that is what we thought they were. We didn’t see any difference. And much of North America, much of Western society Christians, were sort of cast aside because we weren’t acting as a whole in very loving ways during the Covid situation and, therefore, the world just ignored us. It’s hard to ignore God’s presence, it really is a difficult thing. And that is why overseas, in the Indias as we say or some of those other countries, God was not being ignored because the Christians were demonstrating a difference and, therefore, they have all the attention upon them. I heard this one testimony this one brother was telling me, he says, We went out every morning, we got our best clothes on, and we took our food with us and went out to preach. Nobody cared about our clothes and nobody cared about our food. All they wanted to do was ask us why we were different.” In other words, you can dress up the outside, you can give people gifts, it doesn’t really matter because really what they want is they want a clean life. They want a life that is filled with joy, happiness, and peace. That is what they really want.

Joy- Well and a lot of the reports that we get back from our partners, hope and peace; it’s such a common, common theme that the people coming to know the Lord, they are hungry for hope, they are hungry for peace. I mean I think that everybody in the world is and if it’s not being demonstrated then they are not necessarily going to find it, I think is what you are saying.

Ron-That’s right. We are the best examples of effectiveness and you can say well, what about these nice people in other religions? There are a lot of nice people in a lot of other religions who are just basically that, they are nice. But there is a difference between being nice and being radically changed by God into a holy walk with God into righteous living. And that niceness goes only so deep. I call it the skim milk of human kindness. In other words, there is something built within most people, I know a few that aren’t but there is a niceness built into most people that is probably I would say about an inch thick. And they are good folks. But you get past that and they are just like everybody else. Whereas, what Jesus promised was he would go to the innermost part of our being and it would be like a river of water flowing out of us. In other words, it would affect what we are. This is something that we need to hold onto. Yes, we fall, yes, we make mistakes, in India they make mistakes. People got mad, people did this, people did that, but not as a regular occurrence. This was something that was minimized by the power of God upon them and their walk with God. Also, other people were depending upon them. You know very well, both of you are moms, that you can do a lot of things but you sacrifice a lot and you act a certain way to take care of your kids and your grandkids. It’s a matter of you lay aside a lot of that because you’ve got to take care of other people. Your wants and wishes come secondarily to that. It’s the same thing overseas. It grips believers. They say, We’ve got to go out there, we’ve got to work hard, we’ve got to demonstrate what it means to be a Christian. We will love these people.” They are determined to let God shine through them because those other people’s lives are at stake. So it’s a matter that they are working hard to walk with God, not just for their own eternal destiny or their love for God. Not just their personal things. They are going to do it simply because other people are watching and their lives may be dependent upon me walking with Jesus and showing it. So this is the thing that I struggle with sometimes trying to explain missions. Missions is more than just going out there and getting up on a soapbox to another culture and yelling a message and reading some scripture and saying now repent and be baptized and shaking a finger at people. More than that it is saying, okay, I am an example of what God can do. And when nationals do that within their own culture it’s very effective.

Joy- I am an example of what God can do. You know, I feel like this podcast is very important and it has a message you know, we’re not really hearing very much, this internal change of the Holy Spirit, which is what believers I think all believe, is supposed to be there. And yet, nobody is really talking about it like how you so clearly just laid it out. That other religions it’s an external demonstration, it’s lived on the outside, we’re going to do good deeds, we’re going to do this, we’re going to help you, we’re going to be nice, but this internalization of what the Holy Spirit does inside of us, I’m not hearing people talk about that very much.

<p>Hmong woman</p>
It was funny because in Vietnam people were coming up and they were saying, why are you laughing?

Ron- Other religions want to appease the gods so they won’t hurt them, that’s the basics of this. You can take all the great world religions, and even communism, why are you going to believe in it? I’m going to appease the government so they don’t hurt me. Everybody is the same whereas, Christianity stands apart in saying of course I’m not going to hurt you, I love you. And that is God telling the people, his creation, he’s saying, I’m not here to be the bad guy, you don’t have to fear me, come! And then He is saying basically what was lost with Adam and Eve in the fall, I can rebuild into your life. I can walk with you, I can lead you, I can be your God and you will be my people, etcetera. And then in the New Testament even more detail explains it. Over here, getting back to the question, over here we are satisfied. We are satisfied, for an extent, apart from walking with God. It’s sort of like, God, on Sunday I’ll take your hand and we’ll walk but please, I’ve got six other days to enjoy life. And, therefore, it’s a matter of, 20 minutes in the morning, you’ve got it God, that’s what you need that’s what you’re going to get. 20 minutes studying the Bible, prayer, I’m on for that, but the other time, Lord, listen, I’ve got a lot to do and you know, I’m happy with the way I am. Overseas, many of the people were so lost and they knew they were lost, and they knew they were unhappy, they knew they were sinners. When they accept the Lord they cannot find enough time to be with God. They sacrifice a lot, they’ll leave their crops early for prayer meetings, for Bible studies or fellowship with one another. Church services last three or four hours. Nobody gets bored, they sort of stick around afterwards just to be with one another. It’s a total different environment.

Joy- A very stark difference! Wow.

Ron- It’s a huge difference! Because of our attitude over in the West as a whole. No God, you’ve got your place, I’ve got mine. I’m willing to meet though, just let’s do it quick.

Joy- Ooh, that’s painful to hear! It’s convicting isn’t it?

Ron- Well, yeah but I’m just telling you this is the way it is.

Joy- We are so satisfied with so little.

Ron- And the children of Israel were this way too. Listen, this isn’t new. Middle of the wilderness, it’s the same sort of situation. We go with the times. The good times we sort of ignore God, bad times we are right there beside him. That is normal, it’s not right. Overseas they are under such pressure, suffering, lack of on all fronts that when they discover a gold mine they are going to cash in, and that is what they have found.

Joy-Okay, well, thanks for answering my question in many different ways, I appreciate that.

No God, you’ve got your place, I’ve got mine. I’m willing to meet though, just let’s do it quick.

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