Why Do Christians Evangelize Instead of Just Feeding the Hungry?

Soup KitchenI was recently interviewed by a student writing for the Stanford Daily. A group of off-campus Christians had put on a controversial outreach activity and he wanted to know why Christians share their faith. Apparently my answer wasn’t pithy or interesting enough, because I didn’t make it into the final article. :)

His questions (which he asked separately but which I combined for my answer): “Why do Christians try to spread their beliefs? With so many other problems in the world, why expend so much energy on spreading the gospels instead of, for example, feeding the hungry?”

My emailed response:

Jesus said that he is the way, the truth, and the life – he even said that no one could come to God apart from him. So the same compassion that compels Christians to build hospitals and orphanages and feed the hungry also compels us to share the news that everyone can be reconciled to God through Christ.

In addition, we know that by spreading the gospel we also increase the number of people who are feeding the hungry and otherwise doing good deeds. We know from research that religious people give more to charity than nonreligious people do, and so we see that compassion and evangelism are not antithetical. If anything, they reinforce each other.

In summary, we share the gospel with someone because we believe that the gospel meets their deepest needs and will also catalyze them to likewise go meet the spiritual and practical needs of others.

He asked me more questions than that, but I didn’t have time to answer them before his deadline. And even this answer was kind of rushed. If I had my answer to give over again I probably would have put a line about heaven and hell in there, but as it is I feel pretty good about it.

So if you’re not a Christian and wonder why we keep urging you to trust in Jesus, I hope my answer helps you understand our motives. We love you and we love Jesus, so we want to arrange an introduction.

2 thoughts on “Why Do Christians Evangelize Instead of Just Feeding the Hungry?

  1. jrjo

    I think also, it’s not enough to just live. It’s a similar dilemma to ones (I hear) those in medical professions face — yes, you can give a guy meds for his diabetes, but are you really solving the greater problem of his bad dietary habits and lack of exercise?

    Western culture seems to have made a value of life for life’s own sake, perhaps because it’s the most concrete thing of value. The reasoning being, even if one’s life is empty and meaningless, a non-zero chance of making it better is better than zero chance when you’re dead. So yes — keeping people alive is necessary. But it’s also insufficient — just ‘cuz you show up doesn’t mean you win. While eating may have mechanical importance in keeping one functioning, a life without spiritual and em0tional needs fulfilled sucks.

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