The Crusades; a subject that most are at lease familiar with. The term Crusades generally refers to the series of wars that were fought by western European countries against those in Asia Minor between 1095 and 1291. In these wars, Christian countries in Europe were convinced that through the sword they could bring the truth to Asian countries. I know for the history buffs among us, this is an overly simplistic view of the Crusades.
However, it is enough for me to continue with the original question.
One of the most popular mission fields in this country right now is the Internet. It is extremely easy to log onto social media sites and find people who disagree with you. Combine this with the fact that we have a generation of youth that have been raised to be strong in their faith and confident in their views, and we have a power that the world will soon be forced to reckon with. However, this is a dangerous place to be, in my opinion. When one studies the effects of the Crusades, it becomes apparent that it is impossible to convince people they are lacking the truth with violence. In Asia, the native people would see the invaders come in and kill those who would not convert, and would be further convinced they (the natives) were right in their thinking.
What does this have to do with what we are facing today? I believe that the Internet is a dangerous evangelism tool. In 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 we find the familiar passage of Paul as he speaks about becoming all things to all men. Many people have a hard time understanding what this passage means, but after some research I believe that its meaning is very simple. Paul is suggesting that he alters his behavior to match those he is in
contact with. He specifically references becoming a Jew when he is with Jews. This means that he would not do things that would offend their sensitivities as Jews. Does this mean that he abandons his Christian faith? Absolutely not! As a matter of fact, this action allows him to
fulfill the ultimate requirement in Christianity: Love. In order to love people who disagree with you, you must be able to overlook their differences. You must be able to see them as a child of God, and not as an enemy. It cannot be said any better than the old saying: “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” In order to love someone, you must have a personal relationship with that person. It is impossible to develop a personal relationship with a stranger through the Internet. Therefore, it is impossible to love a person well enough for them to accept your criticism of their lifestyle.
It is much easier to share your faith with strangers while you sit behind your keyboard. Likewise, it is much harder to demonstrate love to people, since words typed out online cannot carry empathy or emotion. I have come to the conclusion that in order to share the good news, we must go out into the world and make disciples.
I have long suspected that people are turned off by Internet evangelism, but it was confirmed for me when I ran into a person that I would classify as “dying to be Christian.” This person read the Bible and understood what it said, for the most part. However, she had an errant view on a particular doctrinal issue which, in her zeal to share her faith, she posted on her Facebook page. She was then attacked viciously and without mercy by other “Christians” trying to root out heresy - to stick with the Crusades analogy. Several years later, she meets me and I claim to be Christian. Immediately the conversation becomes very tense and she informs me that Christians are the biggest hypocrites in the world. Under the
circumstances, I was forced to agree with her. You cannot approach unbelievers without love and call yourself a Christian. It is impossible to love people wirelessly, and it is impossible to evangelize without love.
In my assessment, our generation is in danger of committing the atrocities of a second Crusade if we continue to take our Faith online. There is a reason that Jesus said to “go out into the world and make disciples.” This reason is, face to face communication is the only way one can build the relationship necessary for evangelism. So I challenge you to “go out” and love. It is through love, not well reasoned arguments, that we are given the chance to address a hurting world.