I am from Nepal and have been hugely influenced by Indian culture since i stayed there for 6 years as i completed my schooling there.
As far as i believe in my country,Nepal culture is closely intertwined with religion. I often find it diffcult to think of ways to share my faith without poking the culture which i believe only makes things worse even if i wouldnt do it on purpose.
And also I would really appreciate if you could deliver some practical ways to be the salt and the light (the kind that He wants us to be)where i am placed be it educational setup or nonchristian setup.
Thank you !!
How can I share the Gospel in a context where culture and faith are closely intertwined without offending the other person?
Your question is a very important one, especially in the context where Hinduism is the predominant worldview. You are right when you say that the culture at large “is closely intertwined with religion”. In my interaction with some Hindu scholars, I have heard them described Hinduism as “a way of life”.
In order for me to do justice to your question, let me stick to the practical ways of engagment and whenever necessary, I shall add the theory as well. By the way, if you need any further clarification then please do not hesitate to ask by means of a follow up question.
First, we must explore ways of making meaningful relationships with our neighbours. Very often, we tend to communicate from a distance and hence we missed out. But the most effective way for the communication of the gospel is friendly through personal relationships. This is precisely one of the main reason why the Church has failed to reach out to Hindus. John Scott speaks of the Incarnational model of Christ as a model for mission. Therefore, you and I need to model our mission after Jesus, our master evangelist.
Secondly, we must always strive towards building bridges and not walls. The apostle Paul is another great example for us. In Acts 17:16-34, Paul while preaching the gospel to the Athenians, he first looked out for some common points of contact he could build with them. He was not afraid to agree when he saw points of agreement. His aim was to direct his audience to accept the truth. However, he was not afraid to point out the truth when it clashed with their false beliefs. Paul’s whole approach or methods can be summed up as reasoning, explaining, proving and proclaiming as laid out in Acts 17: 1-4.
Thirdly, we should ensure that the Christian presence (i.e., both the individual as well as the community as a whole) is establised to make the Christian proclamation effective. Please read John 13:34-35. Again, John Stott while commenting on 1 John 4:12 puts it well when he says, “The invisible God, who once made himself visible in Christ, now makes himself visible in Christians, if we love one another…It is through the quality of our loving that God makes himself visible today”.
Fourth, we should make an intelligent presentation of the gospel and give reasonable answers to the objections and questions people raise. After all, people (irrespective of their backgrounds and beliefs) are created in the image of God, meaning that we all have the capacity of reasoning. J. P. Moreland says that the gospel message should be presented to people primarily because it is true and not because it works, though the practical benefits of knowing Christ are certainly important.