When Evangelization Becomes Toxic

The first thing I noticed when I got to college is the huge amount of diversity in the student population. Everyone is passionate about something, and university is a great place to find people who share your values and to refine your worldview based on what you've learned from your experiences and others. When you're passionate about something, you want to tell everyone about it and work to make others understand your point of veiw. This can be a positive thing, like groups working for equal rights, or a negative thing, like using your views to put others down and condemn them. It's important to find the line between positive and negative sharing of ideas. 

I was raised Christian, and I think a lot of students on campus share a similar story. We were taught to spread the Word of God, and that our purpose is to live out the Word and bring the Word to others. Raised believing that, as Christians, we are many sinners' only chance at discovering God and becoming redeemed, we have been exposed to a mindset that can quickly become unhealthy. It's easy to interpret the idea of evangelization as "the holy educating the sinners," which immediately turns others off to the idea of religion.

If evangelization truly is the goal, mindset is the key. We can't look at it like believers are superior to non-believers, and we definitely can't force religion onto others. For believers, Christianity is necessary because we are all sinners. This is where the issue emerges. For non-believers, a person is a person, nothing more and nothing less. We've all made mistakes, but we can own up to them because we want to grow. If under the mindset that you're a believer and you've already been saved, there is no need for you to try to become a better person because you believe that you already are. Believer or non-believer, however, we have to realize that there is always room for growth and there is always a need to be a good person.

Due to the many differing opinions and passions in the college setting, we are put into many situations where we must be careful what we say to avoid offending others. Though there are certain things Christians believe, we all have to understand that there are other beliefs among other groups. People have been through situations we might not even be able to imagine. If someone is not open to hearing our beliefs, evangelization is not possible. If we persist in sharing our religion with others who are not interested, it becomes forced and may even border on harassment. Comments such as "I will repent for your sins" or "You're going to hell" are extremely inappropriate in any such situation and will push others even father from Christianity. 

Sometimes the best way to evangelize is by example, especially when others are not interested in what you have to say. A huge part of Christianity is spreading selfless love no matter the situation, and we as Christians need to practice what we preach by respecting others enough and being a good friends even to non-believers. This is simply not possible by "preaching at" others and justifying offensive actions with religion. I've said it before and I'll say it again - we need to own up to our mistakes not only as Christians, but as humans, so that we can grow.

HCXO,

Elizabeth