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This may touch a nerve, but why do Christians seek to convert everyone, especially people who have no interest in being converted? It always comes off like a drug dealer saying, "Try it, you'll like it - trust me. Would I lie to you?" If the point is to make the world a better place, wouldn't a less aggressive approach be more effective?

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There's an interesting Penn Jillette video that touches on this - well worth a watch: youtube.com/watch?v=ZhG-tkQ_Q2w –  Marc Gravell Feb 14 '13 at 12:20
    
Wow, that surprised me. I think he's probably a closet Christian if he really believes that. Or at least a deist. At least as a religious person with my own firm beliefs, there's nothing I can appreciate about aggressive evangelism. –  Seth J Feb 14 '13 at 13:04
    
no, he's just saying he understands why they are "in your face". If you felt someone was at risk, you would tell them. The issue is when the other person doesn't agree and doesn't appreciate the repeated disturbance. Which (speaking for myself) is pretty common ;) –  Marc Gravell Feb 14 '13 at 14:25
    
Then does he support telling a terminal patient that they have to try more and more drugs and invasive treatment, or is it ok to let them take their own approach to their illness and death? Surely seeking to "die in peace" is by definition harmful. Yet, isn't it their choice? (I'm not talking about euthanasia or suicide, by the way, just someone deciding they don't want to continue fighting a losing battle and to die peacefully and comfortably. I'm also not asking your opinion on death or a Christian opinion on such choices; I just expect an atheist say something different in that case.) –  Seth J Feb 14 '13 at 14:35
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@theosis I don't know where this idea originated, but it is very commonly stated among Orthodox Jews that the opposite of love isn't hate - it's indifference. –  Seth J Feb 15 '13 at 3:33
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7 Answers

This answer presupposes that the claims of Christianity are true. Since Christians believe this, and this site is meant to give a "Christian" view of things, that's the presupposition required to properly answer this. I realize that many people don't believe the claims of Christianity, but the Truth of the claims isn't what's being asked or what's relevant here. Why Christians act as they do is, and the presupposition is what drives us to act as we do.

This also is geared toward answering from the perspective of the strongly evangelistic among us. Not all denominations, and not all Christians are aggressively evangelistic. From the question, I am assuming that you are looking for what drives that type, since that type is the ones that are "out to convert everyone". The motivation of those that aren't aggressively evangelistic are going to be absent from my answer because it wouldn't apply to the question asked. But for those of us who are, this is the reason:


That's simple. The idea of anyone in Hell terrifies us. We believe that we've all fallen short of the standard God uses to judge us, and are all guilty, and therefore doomed to Hell.

http://bible.cc/romans/3-23.htm

John 14:6 New International Version

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Since Christ claimed to be the only way to avoid that fate, naturally, we want everyone to turn to Christ and avoid that fate.

John 14:6 New International Version

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Many Christians feel uncomfortable with aggressive evangelism, stating that they're afraid to scare people away. Ray Comfort replied to this with "where are you going to scare them to, Hell #2?"

The non-believer may not agree that Christ is the only way, but belief isn't what determines truth, and if Christ is who He said He is, the only way to prevent someone from an eternity of torture is to tell them.

Put another way, if someone were standing in the road, and you saw a vehicle rushing toward them, how would you react? By saying, "Please move out of the road! Try it, you'll like it!" Or would you tell them of the danger, and if they ignored it, try to aggressively push them out of the way, and to safety?

Put simply, the point is not to make the world a better place. This world and our present lives are, if Christianity is true, only temporary. The point is to save those around us from eternal suffering.

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@SethJ I don't know what kind bad experience you had with christians but I apologize for it. Forcing others is not the way of Jesus. We respect the Freewill of others. May God show you the Truth. –  Mawia Feb 14 '13 at 13:51
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The Christian perspective certainly allows that other religions can lead people to doing good works and improving the world. However, you can do all the good in the world, and it won't gain you salvation. From Ephesians 2:8-9 : For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. In fact, our righteousness is not only not good enough to get us to heaven, god sees it as no better than "filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6) - Even the very best we can do falls short of God's standard for righteousness. –  David Stratton Feb 14 '13 at 23:43
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+1: Please move out of the road! Try it, you'll like it! - made my day. –  Omega Feb 14 '13 at 23:47
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Hence, from a Christian perspective, good works are a result of salvation, not a contribution to our salvation. Good works, which make the world a better place, are a result of salvation, but we acknowledge that you don't have to be a Christian to do good works, or God's will. So seeking to convert others isn't to improve the world. Improving the world is perfectly within the scope of all religions. Converting people is solely to save them from the wrath of God against unrighteousness. No more, no less. –  David Stratton Feb 14 '13 at 23:51
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And before someone else points it out, atheists can and do good things, so the statement "The Christian perspective certainly allows that other religions can lead people to doing good works" isn't meant to imply that only religion can lead to good works. So can good parenting, a good heart, good schoolteachers setting examples, any number of things. –  David Stratton Feb 15 '13 at 0:53
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It's because of The Great Commission given by Jesus Christ.

Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV) 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

It's the duty of all Christians to share the Gospel which is Salvation through Jesus Christ and Him alone. Any Christian who does not share the Gospel are not completely following the command of Jesus Christ nor truly love Him.

John 14:15 (NASB) “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.

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So whenever you're visited by Witnesses or Mormons or approached on the street by someone evangelizing some brand of christianity which you don't practice, you shake their hands and say, "keep up the good work"? –  Seth J Feb 14 '13 at 12:57
    
My question to you is different from my question to David. David suggested that what happens in this world doesn't matter. You are suggesting that only you have the truth. But other Christians believe the same thing and probably see you as a person they have to "save". Do you congratulate these people for fulfilling their duty? Do you regularly debate them to convince them your way is correct? –  Seth J Feb 14 '13 at 14:03
    
@SethJ My answer does not say anything that only we have the truth. My answer simply answers why we try our best to bring others to Christ. –  Mawia Feb 14 '13 at 18:26
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@SethJ If you follow Judaism, you must follow the rules of Judasim. If you are a Christian, you must do what a Christian is expected to do, which is sharing the Gospel. We are just doing what we are expected to do by our religion. –  Mawia Feb 14 '13 at 18:29
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But that's my point. They have their truth, and you have yours. So if you're both commanded to preach to people who don't want to be preached to, doesn't that make you a desired target and potential convert for them? If so, shouldn't you be encouraging them? –  Seth J Feb 15 '13 at 5:11
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Approaches

First of all, some people may evangelize in ways that would be considered "aggressive", but many others are not. In fact, the situation often determines the appropriate approach, so the same person could approach the same person in completely different ways, depending on the situation.

When my mother saw me as a child wandering close to the street when no cars were coming, her voice was firm, but not aggressive. Then one day when we were walking and she saw a snake ten feet in front of me, her voice was quite different. Also, she has suggested very quietly that one more cookie may not be the best for me.

The Incentive

It should be noted that Christians do not merely believe that Christianity is something good that everyone would enjoy--like ice cream or a foot massage. A better illustration--and a biblical one at that--is that every person is infected with a deadly disease that impacts their bodies, their souls and their spirits. However, many people don't even know they have the disease. They experience the symptoms--spiritual emptiness, vanity, and others--but many do not even believe they have a spirit, so they don't know how to even self-diagnose.

As Christians, we have shared the same infection, but have received the antidote as well. It has transformed our lives entirely. We were also given an endless supply of the antidote to share with others. So, we share freely. Sometimes we may sound belligerent, but that is not from self-righteous, but from confusion as to why someone would not want to be healed.

We learn in time that some people simply do not want to know or admit that they have a disease. People even do this for physical diseases and won't go to a doctor. So, we have to learn to be tactful in how we share the antidote. Sometimes it is better for us to talk about how great it has worked for us. Perhaps that works well because people are more ready to hear they have a disease if they know there is a cure.

There is, indeed, a cure for the disease of sin and separation from God, and the cure is 100% effective.

I hope you can understand that even though you may find it annoying, the intent of evangelism typically comes from a very caring, loving and compassionate heart, albeit poorly expressed at times. Mom pleads with us to take nasty tasting medicine, because it heals and is good for us.

So, perhaps you can at least appreciate a heart that cares for you. If someone had a cure for a deadly disease and withheld it from you, you would have reason to hate that person. Yet, it someone believes you have a deadly disease and aggressively offers you the cure, at least they care. (This would be true even if it were not true that you had a deadly disease, because they believe that you do.)

Conclusion

So, I understand that many people do not really want to hear about Christianity. However, there are countless stories of people just like that who end up taking the antidote and receiving the joys that come with it.

Just to name a few accounts... The Unexpected Journey, The Persecutor, Betrayed, Once an Arafat Man. The list is literally millions of pages long...

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This brings out the real, sincere intent behind it. –  Seek forgiveness Feb 15 '13 at 5:19
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A better question is, why wouldn't we?

We have the truth, and the truth is that you may have eternal life by believing in Jesus Christ. Pardon me if I say so myself, and I think I speak for all Christians when I say this, but eternal life is not a bad thing. In fact, if we didn't want to convert anyone, if we just kept to ourselves, it either means 1) we don't think we have the truth, or 2) we're selfish individuals who don't care about the rest of humanity. Neither is the case.

Now, I'll speak for myself. Of course not everyone wants to be converted. That's just the nature of fallen man. Jesus said (John 3:19-20), "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved."

I know that's true. When I was in the world, I could have cared less about Jesus and anyone who preached to me about him.

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See my comment on Mawia's answer. –  Seth J Feb 14 '13 at 13:07
    
Oh, I recognize your name from (ahem) another site. So you are Christian. I wasn't too sure. –  Seth J Feb 14 '13 at 19:08
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Of course. I never pretended to be otherwise. I am Christian by faith, Jewish by birth. One doesn't simply cease being a Jew just because they don't practice Judaism. –  H3br3wHamm3r81 Feb 14 '13 at 19:51
    
Sorry, I didn't mean to suggest you were being deceptive on the other site. It just wasn't totally clear to me one way or the other. –  Seth J Feb 15 '13 at 16:09
    
I disagree; we are selfish individuals who don't care about the rest of humanity. That's the entire reason the Lord Jesus had to save us in the first place. –  Robert Haraway Feb 15 '13 at 17:54
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David's view represents a Western, largely Protestant worldview. From an Eastern Orthodox perspective, it is because we can't help but share our loving God with you. But we don't do it by being pushy and trying to compel you to join our church. Instead we love you as God loves us. We don't believe we get people into the doors of the church, that is your choice and it is God who compels you. But we need to leave the doors open. The major difference is that in the East we focus on God's mercy, love, and grace, because God is love (the West tends to focus on God's wrath/anger). We also do not believe that God saves you from God (the Western view is that Jesus died to appease God's wrath in order to reconcile God to us). We believe that Jesus died to defeat man's enemies (sin, death, and the devil), and God's disposition towards all humans is loving, not one of wrath. We are the ones who need to reconcile with God (not vice versa), which is the state we were created to be in.

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I'm genuinely curious. If one of your focal points is God's mercy, isn't that borne out of God's wrath and anger against man's sin? Otherwise, what's the need for mercy to begin with? Also, I wouldn't say that "the Western view" is that Jesus died to reconcile God to us, but rather to reconcile those who place their faith in Christ to God. Do you deny this? –  Matt Davis Feb 14 '13 at 4:08
    
The view represented in west is same as what you represent in east. I cannot see any difference between your eastern view of God and David’s western view of God. Only difference is that you are not mentioning the God’s Wrath but it goes without saying in the view represented by you in eastern audience. Jesus died to defeat man's enemies (sin, death, and the devil) so that we are not punished by God and face His wrath (which you are not stating). Jesus died in order to get mercy from God as we have annoyed Him by siding with man's enemies (sin, death, and the devil). –  Seek forgiveness Feb 14 '13 at 4:46
    
We don't consider wrath an eternal part of God's essence, it is actually an energy of love that we perceive as wrath, so wrath of god is mostly anthropomorphic. So God has no need to save us from himself (his so called wrath). He saves us from death and enables us to become like him and in communion with him. We don't believe in eternal torment from gods wrath / hell. We believe all experience love of God (God is all in all), but for some this is not good experience. Many terms we use same but different meaning –  user3797 Feb 14 '13 at 9:39
    
The elders say to look inward to become free of passions then help five or six people around you. Our closest thing to evangelism. If we become free from passions, this takes care of itself . God grows church , not us. Even thinking he needs us to grow is a passion we must rid ourselves of –  user3797 Feb 14 '13 at 9:41
    
God loves and has mercy freely, he not bound by any "need". That is pagan to think god is bound by external abstract laws. He has mercy by his free loving choice. No need to but does anyway. Why we so gratitude –  user3797 Feb 14 '13 at 9:43
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I liked David's answer and +1'd it. He talks about one working motive and he is absolutely right in that regard - because a Christian cares about the one they are witnessing to - that's the answer in the Penn Jillette perspective basically. I don't necessarily see a problem with those answers, and when I share with someone, it is out of a motive of love for that person, in part. But that is not the only reason, or even the primary reason that I get from the Bible. The primary reason I get is:

Because we are commanded to

The Bible commands this to us in Matthew 28:18-20 (NASB):

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

And frankly, that is enough. God deserves glory out of His creation. The only way He will get glory out of sinful, fallen mankind is through the transaction that took place at the cross. Through Christ declaring a sinner as righteous because His Son's punishment was sufficient for that sin and His resurrection was accomplished. And then the Holy Spirit taking up residence in that person's "heart". Salvation is about a gift to us, indeed, but it is about God receiving the glory due to His name. So "the Lamb that was slain may receive the reward of His suffering."

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Let me ask you this. If you knew that a bomb was in a building and it was going to go off soon would you tell others? You are safe even if that bomb goes off, but those people are not shielded. If you don't warn people, then how will they know the danger they are in?

This situation is different of course, but the outcome is still the same.

I am a Jehovah's Witness and I go out every week (or I try to at least) to spread Gods message . It's not just that Jesus told us to "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations". We are generally concerned about people. We even print books and material at our own expense and give it away free.

We don't try to push our materials on people. If people are interested in bible knowledge we make sure they get it. If they don't want it or ask us to leave and never come back then we respect their decision. Even if people aren't interested or are downright nasty, at least you tried to save them.

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