It’s immoral not to tell someone the truth because, in simple terms, it’s lying. So why is it so necessary to share the Christian message? Because we are not solely declaring how people can live better lives in their own little bubbles, but we are proclaiming facts about how the universe actually operates.
Penn Jillette, a comedian and atheist, expands: “I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and hell and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life or whatever, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward … how much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”
Well put, Penn. But why is it that so many Christians would rather remain quiet than pipe up and talk about Jesus?
A part of the problem is that historical (and orthodox) doctrines have been abandoned, particularly the doctrine of hell. Hell is not something Christians agree over anymore, nor is it something that very many want to use as a “motivator” to manipulate people into belief. But if you believe in the traditional doctrine of hell, how can you not tell someone about the very real eternal consequences that await them?
Even if you don’t believe in hell as a literal place, or the images of hell as metaphorical realities, say you believe that hell is annihilation—I still say, how could you not want to warn people that they will cease to exist and that there’s the possibility of eternal life? And this is where Penn’s point is apt: If there is even the remote possibility of eternal life, how could you not let people know?
Even if you don’t believe in hell (which, personally, I do not think is an option for any serious student of the Scriptures), how can you not share the message of Jesus that not only has eternal ramifications, but also massive implications for how we live here and now? If you really believe that God is love, and that the human soul will not be truly satisfied until it knows and rejoices in the love God, how could you not share that message?
Once again, Paul is very clear, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” Sometimes I worry that in our re-emphasis on the here and now of the Christian message, we have lost its eternal significance. What is amazing about Jesus is that we gain eternal life, which is both quality here and now and quantity here and after. It’s not just hope in this life only that really matters.