Lesson 1: Introduction
Hindus comprise one of the largest unreached mega-peoples in the world today.
Most people in India and Nepal are Hindus. Many are found in Sri Lanka as well as other countries neighboring South Asia. Then there are the millions of Hindus scattered throughout the world in the Indian Diaspora.
What a joy and a privilege it is to be part of God’s work in the lives of other people! These lessons will help you better understand Indian culture, Hinduism, and how best to help Hindu seekers and share the good news of Jesus with them.
As you continue to learn and respond to Hindu people please keep in mind the acronym
Love; Inform Yourself; Pray
Having an attitude of love is so important. Love needs to permeate everything we do and say. “For God so loved the world” and we ought to love them as He does.
Love shows humility and respect for others and tries to understand their point of view rather than asserting ours, without being conceited or judgmental.
When you respond to a Hindu, you need to be able to honestly say, “My dear friend.” And be genuinely interested in helping them.
In order to communicate with Hindus more effectively, it is helpful to learn what they believe, how they live in their society, and how they view the world. And to communicate within that framework rather than expecting them to understand ours.
This might mean using terminology that is different from what we’re used to, or learning to think more creatively about the way in which we communicate spiritual truths.
And this is exactly what this training series is all about!
Prayer is essential to any ministry endeavor. We are in a spiritual battle. Satan does not want more people to worship God and enter his kingdom, so he tries to keep as many as possible in bondage to him. The only real, lasting change is that which comes when God works through the prayers of His people.
Be sure to set aside adequate time to pray for each person you respond to and for each response you answer. Let Christ’s love for them shine through you in your responses to them!
Lesson 2: Some facts about Hinduism and Hindus
Hinduism is an ancient religion with no founder or known date of origin. The term “Hinduism” simply derives from the Indus River at the northwest border of India and refers to a wide variety of religious traditions and philosophies that have developed in India over thousands of years.
About 80 percent of India’s population regard themselves as Hindus. There are a total of 900 million Hindus worldwide, making Hinduism the third largest religion (after Christianity and Islam).
What a plentiful field of harvest for the Lord!
Most Hindus believe in God. Since they feel they need something to visually represent God, they have multitudes of idols representing gods in various forms. Many Hindus are deeply religious and spiritual. Worship is part of their daily ritual. So their religious roots are strong.
There are also many festivals related to their religion which they celebrate all the year long. One of the most important ones which is celebrated all over India is ‘Diwali’, also called the Festival of Lights.
Hindu Scriptures are called Vedas. The Bhagavad Gita is the most popular Hindu scripture. Still, few Hindus actually read it and very few read the Vedas.
Their teachers are called Gurus (Teachers) or Swamis (Revered Ones).
What Hindus believe:
In “Reincarnation” – the endless cycle of death and rebirth.
In “Karma” – the law of cause and effect. They believe that the problems they face in this life are the result of their sins in their past life. So there is no escape from them.
In “Nirvana” or “Moksha” – Sometimes translated “salvation” or “release,” moksha is the ultimate state of being free from suffering and individual existence. The attainment of nirvana is believed to break the otherwise endless cycle of rebirths. They strive to achieve nirvana through good works, penances and propitiating gods.
These are the main Hindu beliefs.
What they need is:
- The Truth of the Word of God – Lord Jesus Christ.
- To know that God has made them unique and special and that He loves them deeply; that they can have a personal relationship with a living, loving God even though they can’t see Him physically.
- That there is no reincarnation where they will be born as another human being or even as another lesser life such as an animal.
- That Lord Jesus is the only God who can save them from sins through His death and resurrection, and that they cannot earn salvation by their efforts.
You as a Christian are their link to these revolutionary new truths!
Lesson 3: The people of India
This lesson is to give some information about the people of India, in general, irrespective of their religion. Nepal is also a predominantly Hindu country, and similar in culture to India. About 30 million Indians live in other countries of the world. They are known as “non-resident Indians,” or NRIs.
India has the second largest population in the world next to China.
There are at least 20 different official languages spoken in various states in India. Imagine if each of the states in the US had a different language! Hindi is the national language of India and is spoken by the majority of people in North India. There are also thousands of other languages and dialects spoken all over India.
English is the second national language. Almost all students study English in school and college. But since it is not their mother tongue and may not be their spoken language, they may not be very familiar with it or understand it easily.
There are three big cosmopolitan cities in India – New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. We can compare them to the fast-paced cities New York, Los Angeles and Chicago of USA where the life-style of many is very different from the rest of the country. Many of the people from these Indian cities are well-versed in English.
Traditional and extended families are the core of the society. Women dress traditionally and modestly, except for some of the younger generation in the bigger cities. Marriages are mostly arranged. Children are the focus of their parents and stay under the parents’ care till they finish college. Showing respect to people older than themselves or to strangers comes naturally. So if you are addressed as “Sir” or “Madam,” don’t be surprised!
Hindu people, in general, are good, kind, moral people. One of the most difficult things for them to understand is that they are sinners who need a Savior.
If we say “I am a sinner and l asked Lord Jesus to forgive me and save me”, we can almost sense them thinking – “I wonder what kind of person this is who is such a sinner!”
In fact, a missionary wrote that in one Asian country, people think that only the people in jail are sinners!
Later in lesson 24 we will address this. Understanding the Indian people’s way of life goes a long way in replying to the Hindu from their point of view.
Please pray for the Holy Spirit’s discerning guidance to see things from their perspective as you reply or answer their questions or comments.
Lesson 4: A Philosophical Worldview
I believe in kriya [works] philosophy
Hinduism is so vast a collection of religions that you can almost say no two Hindus believe alike. Yet there is a broad description that is generally helpful for us to understand – Hindus tend to have a philosophical orientation to life and spirituality. Contrast that with Muslims, who have a law-oriented view of religion. Islam is embodied in shariah, or Islamic law.
Interestingly, both law and philosophy are two sides of the same coin – setting standards to live up to in order to achieve salvation. Both have the same fallacy – no power. Merely having standards, rules, or philosophical ideals cannot give a person the power to live up to those standards.
That’s why we need a savior, which you don’t find in any other religion in the world. Sri Vivekananda was one of the early Hindu gurus to tour the West giving lectures. He electrified audiences in America in the late 1800s with his daring expositions of Hindu philosophies known as “Karma Yoga” and “Bhakti Yoga” (the Path of Deeds and the Path of Devotion). When I read his books, I was struck by his beautiful eloquence, especially as he described devotion to a personal deity as the path to achieve salvation. But it occurred to me that his descriptions were like describing unicorns – beautiful creatures, but they don’t really exist. Vivekananda could describe perfect love to a deity, but he admitted he didn’t live up to it himself, nor could his eloquence alone give me the power to achieve such ideals.
You don’t need a course in the six major streams of Hindu philosophy in order to know that none of them can give their devotees the power to live as they should. The Hindu gods certainly don’t live up to high standards of morals. Lord Jesus gave us ideals, too (“Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect”), but He perfectly lived them out. He also conquered death in the ultimate display of power, and promises to make all His power available to us, as He lives within us (Ephesians 3:20).
If a seeker comes up with a philosophical statement, such as Aravind’s belief in kriya [works] philosophy, you can ask questions about it to show your willingness to understand. But soon you will want to come down to the question of power. “Do you feel you have the power to live up to those ideals? Are you certain of gaining salvation in this lifetime through your chosen path?” Explain Jesus, His sinless life, His death and resurrection (see lesson 11), which give us the power to live a new life.
Lesson 5: “There are many paths to God”
“I believe in Jesus. I believe in all religions.” “I pray to Lord Jesus. I am a Hindu.”
“There are many paths to God.” “God is one but has various names.”
These are some of the comments you might see from seekers in India or Nepal. They are typical expressions of Hindu tolerance. They might be confusing for you. How can someone pray to Lord Jesus or accept Him as his or her Savior and still say “I’m a Hindu”?
Hinduism is the main religion of India. Next come Islam and Christianity on minor scales. There are also other religions related to Hinduism such as Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism.
So to a Hindu — there are Hindu gods, Christian god, Muslim god, and the gods of all other religions.
When we say: “Lord Jesus is God,” a Hindu thinks, “I accept Him along with my other gods.” When we say: “Jesus is the way to God,” his mind goes: “Christian religion is one of the ways to God. There are many paths to God. My religion, Hinduism, is another and so is Islam.”
How do we present the truth of the gospel that Jesus is the ONLY way to God?
First, keep in mind that Hindus feel good when they say, “There are many paths to God” and other expressions of tolerance. They feel their tolerance leads to world peace, if only everyone would accept everyone else’s religion as it is and not try to argue or convert others.
If you immediately contradict their statement, they will take you to be intolerant and you will drive them further away.
So ask gently, “May I tell you why Lord Jesus is special (or unique)?” Talk only about Jesus, and don’t put down their gods or beliefs. Remember when the Ark of the Covenant was kept in the temple of Dagon, the idol fell down of its own accord. When we lift up Jesus, if the Holy Spirit is working in our seeker’s heart, they will be attracted to him and lose interest in their gods.
In every other religion, including Hinduism and Islam, man tries to reach God by his own effort which is ultimately fruitless. No amount of good deeds, doing penances or trying to propitiate the gods with offerings and devotion will take them anywhere near a holy God.
“All paths lead to God” assumes that we can reach God by our own efforts to struggle up the path to the top of the mountain. But the Bible says we cannot reach Him by our own efforts. So God Himself provided the way by sending His Son, Jesus, from heaven to earth.
Lord Jesus is our Guide who is the only way to God. He took all our sins away and will take us straight to God. He said, “I am the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE. No one comes to the Father except by Me,” John 14:6.
Having said all that, please keep in mind that sometimes the word “Hindu” is used to refer to culture and upbringing only. Some Hindu background believers may say, “I am a Hindu follower of Christ.” They do not worship any other gods but they retain their cultural identity (see lesson 27).
So when a Hindu says, “I am a Hindu and I love Lord Jesus,” you need to gently find out what they mean. Do they want to add Jesus to their other gods (religious Hindu), or do they know Jesus as their only God and Savior, and simply are referring to their cultural background as Hindu? (which is acceptable).
Lesson 6: Jesus – God, Son of God or Guru
We, whose eyes have been opened to the truth of the gospel by the Holy Spirit, know that Lord Jesus is all these to us.
He is Immanuel – “God with us,” Matthew 1:23.
He is also the Son of God sent on a mission by His Father – “For God so loved the world that He gave His Son,” John 3:16.
He is also our Teacher or Guru who taught us, while He was in this world, whatever God wanted us to know. He said, “Whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say,” John 12:50.
So how do we present Him to a Hindu seeker?
Jesus as God – A Hindu has no problem accepting Lord Jesus as God. To them, He is the Christian God.
The government holidays in India are all mostly religious holidays. Many of these holidays are for Hindu festivals. Some are for Christian and Muslim religious festivals.
Therefore, many Hindus know Christmas as the birthday of Jesus. They may or may not know about Good Friday or Easter. To them, these are Christian holidays with Christian stories about the Christian God, Jesus, just as they have stories about their Hindu gods.
The difference between Lord Jesus and other gods is that Lord Jesus never committed sin. The Hindu deities are not morally perfect, so a Hindu’s view of God is not like ours.
Jesus, the Son of God – We can also tell the Hindu seekers that Jesus is the Son of God. Unlike the Muslims, Hindus do not question this fact, since some of their gods are considered to be children of other gods. But since we do not like Hindus to think of Jesus in this way, it is good to clarify what we mean – that He is the Son of God by His divine nature and by birth to a virgin.
Jesus is the Son of God in the sense that He is the incarnation of God. Hindus easily understand the concept of God being incarnate (in human form). Their scriptures are full of stories about gods taking human forms and living in the world. We can tell them that Jesus, the Son, is the one who shows us exactly what His Father is like.
Jesus as our Guru or Teacher – Hindus have many Gurus or Teachers and many Swamis or Revered Ones who also teach and expound the Hindu scriptures. The Hindi Bible uses the word “Guru” for Jesus (for example, John 13:13). However, the Hindus may begin to consider Him as a good teacher, but not necessarily God.
In our replies, we can first introduce them to Lord Jesus as God, the Son, who loved them enough to come to this world to show the way to His Father God.
Then we can tell them that He is the only way to the pure and holy God, because He is the only One who can take away all our sins, for He took our punishment on the cross. And He is the only One who can make us clean and pure in God’s sight.
We can tell them that Lord Jesus, who is God, is their perfect Guru and give them some of His teachings, such as the “Sermon on the Mount.”
Lesson 7: What is the Good News to the Hindus?
The Good News of the gospel is universal, yet very personal.
I first saw Lord Jesus as a Savior to whom I could talk everyday. Having that personal relationship was precious to me. This drew me close to Him as I felt embraced by His love.
To a friend, it was freedom – laying all her guilt and shame at the Lord’s feet and receiving forgiveness.
To another Hindu, it was handing over his life to Jesus, when it was spinning out of control and he was feeling overwhelmed. He felt God’s power changing Him and giving Him a new life.
I’m sure each of us has our own story of what aspect of the gospel brought us to the Lord.
So what is the Good News that will draw a Hindu to Lord Jesus? We will touch on three aspects:
God’s love, His power, and the forgiveness of sins which He alone offers.
The love of Jesus:
That Lord Jesus is a loving God who cares about them and loves them is an idea very strange to the Hindus. As they hear how Lord Jesus loves every one of them and that they can come to Him and pray to Him, they are drawn to the Lord. As we tell them we can talk to Jesus in prayer and He speaks to us in return through His word, they desire to know how to pray and read the Bible.
Encourage them to pray everyday and read the Bible. As we read in James 4:8, as they draw close to God, He will draw close to them and they will know His tender love for them.
The power of God:
Our God is a miracle working God. The missionaries who minister among the Hindus have witnessed the power of God at work in amazing ways. Many people have experienced miracles in their own lives and have turned to the Lord.
Tell them the stories of the miracles that Jesus performed, and the miracles He still does in our lives. Tell them that Jesus is not a powerless deity, but one who is supremely powerful. The story of the man with the Legion of demons is good to use. It shows Jesus’ great power and at the end the man wants to follow Jesus always. Jesus tells him to “follow” by going home and showing his family and community what God has done for him!
The forgiveness of sins:
God is holy and pure. Hindus know this very well. They have a bath before they come to worship their gods. We need to tell them that just as our body needs to be bathed to be made clean, our hearts have to be washed clean and made pure. Only Lord Jesus can make our hearts clean and pure before we can approach a holy God.
This is wonderful good news to those who are weighed down by the guilt of their sins. None of their scriptures tell them how their sins can be taken away. When they hear that Lord Jesus already took their punishment on the cross and will forgive their sins and give them a new life, they want to come to the Lord and have their burdens lifted.
Give them a prayer they can pray and ask for forgiveness, new life, peace, and joy in their lives.
These three things are indeed Good News to Hindus!
Lesson 8: Which Lord?
I was talking to a Hindu young man. As we discussed our religions, I said “The Lord is good.” He nodded. “We can always pray to Him.” Again a pious nod. “The Lord has a plan for our life.” Looking up to the sky, he replied “Yes, ma’am.”
This continued for a few moments before it suddenly struck me that while I was referring to Lord Jesus, his mind was on Lord Rama or Lord Krishna, his gods!
Since an average Hindu is very religious and spiritual, when we say God or Lord, he is applying whatever we say to his gods and is coming up with many parallels. He will piously agree with most of what we say.
So when replying to Hindu contacts, instead of saying “God” or “The Lord,” be sure to say “Lord Jesus” every time. Then we can be sure that their mind is focused on Lord Jesus and not on one of their gods.
Also, as we saw in lesson 2, Hindus are very visual. They have made God into idols because they want something tangible to worship. Since Jesus was a real person who lived on this earth, they are able to visualize Him and accept Him as the personification of God. But “god” is an abstract concept to them and is usually not even capitalized in Indian writings such as newspapers or books.
As Lord Jesus Himself said, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father,” John 14:9. So in every e-mail you send to a Hindu, never forget to say “Lord Jesus” such as:
“Lord Jesus came to save you.” “Lord Jesus has a plan for your life.”
“Lord Jesus will show you the way to God” and so forth.
Also respect is very important in the Hindu culture. So instead of saying “Jesus loves you,” say “Lord Jesus loves you.”
This way they will know that we revere our God and they will revere Him too.
Lesson 9: Avoiding Christian Vocabulary
Many of the Biblical vocabulary that we are so used to may look like a new language to a Hindu. So as we present the gospel, we need to be aware of how the terms will communicate to a person who is from a different culture and a different religion and who has limited knowledge of English.
Jesus versus Christianity
Always remember that the issue is not Christianity, it is Jesus. Avoid discussing religion and Christianity as much as possible. Hindus fall easily into a competition of religions. They already believe theirs is the oldest and the best. Instead of saying “Christianity teaches,” say “The Bible teaches” or “Lord Jesus says.” Talk about following Lord Jesus, not about being or becoming a Christian.
Here are some other common Christian words to explain or avoid.
Sin – Most Hindus want to think of themselves as good people. “I’m not a bad sinner.” We may have to explain that sin is offending the holy God.
Resurrection – Instead of saying Jesus “resurrected” or “rose from the dead,” say “Lord Jesus came back to life again in the same body.”
Born again – As with “resurrection,” they connect this term to reincarnation. So we have to explain this.
Saved, Salvation – Hindus use the same word but it means something else. Talk about how being forgiven makes you a disciple of Jesus (disciple is a good word Hindus will understand).
Redeemed – Explain this with an example.
Blood – Even though the shed blood of Jesus brings our salvation, go easy on this word. Many Hindus are vegetarians and practice non-violence against all living things. Blood is very abhorrent to them.
Convert, conversion – Hindus do not like it that Christians want to convert people. Avoid this term, it is a very hot political topic in India. Rather it is a relationship with Lord Jesus that we present.
Mission, Missionary – This too is controversial. Missionaries are only acceptable to Hindus when they do social work. Do not say you are an online missionary. You might call yourself a “Bible/spiritual teacher.”
Testimony – Instead of saying, “Let me give you my testimony,” say, “Let me share with you what Lord Jesus has done for me;” or “my faith journey.”
When you explain important biblical terms and state familiar concepts in new words, you will find your own faith being refreshed!
Lesson 10: Present the Gospel through Stories
I used to try to persuade my Hindu friends or ARC seekers of the crucial truths about Jesus by presenting them as biblical doctrines.
Then I rediscovered the beauty and simplicity of story-telling. For several months I shared Bible stories with Keshar from Nepal, who is a strange combination of a Hindu and a skeptic. He wrote, “I think every day I am learning more with you. Thank u very much for your story, l love it very much and expect such more in future.”
One time he wrote that he hardly had time to pray or think about God, since he comes home from work tired. I was about to tell him how important it is to know God and that it would be worth his time and effort. Then I remembered Jesus’ parables of the pearl of great price and the treasure buried in the field. Instead of lecturing him, I told those parables. It was a lot more appealing that way!
Also when we present the gospel stories in simple words, we can be sure that our seekers will read through it, instead of losing interest midway if they are not able to understand what we are trying to convey.
Hindu people love folk-tales and stories! They come from a predominantly oral culture, where religious beliefs and practices are presented comfortably through songs, folk dances and tales, historical stories, parables, and fables.
Hindu gods have many miracles associated with them, many gave philosophical teachings, and they all died somehow or other. But most were clearly morally imperfect and are not known for love. There is no claim that any of them experienced anything like the bodily resurrection of Lord Jesus.
Relate the stories of Jesus’ miraculous birth, spiritual teachings, life of kindness and love, miracles, sinlessness, suffering and death on behalf of others, and resurrection. Of all these features, the ones that are most unique to Jesus and most different from Hindu deities are His love, sinlessness, and resurrection.
You can confidently tell the stories of Jesus knowing that many of these points will be new and attractive to a Hindu.
Lesson 11: The Resurrection Story
The most unique thing about Jesus compared to other deities is His resurrection.
The problem is that Hindus don’t understand the word resurrection. If you say “resurrection” to them, they will respond, “You mean reincarnation, don’t you?”
“Rose from the dead” is no better. Hindus cremate their dead to release the soul from the body. Due to superstition, they are afraid of the dead coming back in spirit form. Resurrection is just not a concept that Hindus ever imagine or talk about.
Nowadays, instead of using our common words that don’t communicate, I say:
“Three days after He was killed and buried, Lord Jesus got up alive again in the same body. That’s what “resurrection” means – coming back to life in the same body and not as a spirit. That’s what Christians celebrate at Easter – it’s the day Lord Jesus got up alive again in the same body after he died.”
It’s longer, but that is what you have to do when you’re trying to convey something totally new and different.
Here is the story of Jesus in a nutshell, with emphasis on His death and resurrection. This is the way I usually tell it to my Hindu personal friends and seekers:
This is the story behind the Christian holiday “Easter” – celebrating the day Lord Jesus came back to life after being dead. This is also known as His resurrection.
Lord Jesus was God who came to earth – God took human form and was born as a baby. He was morally perfect. He never hurt anyone. He loved the poor and needy, and did miracles to heal them and give them food. He forgave their sins, as only God can.
But the religious leaders were jealous of Jesus because He said He was God. They had Him killed. He could have stopped them, but He didn’t. As He died, Jesus forgave those who killed Him. This happened on a Friday.
When He died, His body was prepared according to the local custom. It was covered in spices, wrapped in cloths, and placed in a tomb – a cave with a huge stone rolled against the door.
On Sunday morning some of His women disciples came to add more spices. When they got to the tomb, they saw that the stone was rolled away. His body was gone! The cloths were just lying there folded up!
Then Lord Jesus appeared to them and to His other disciples. They saw He was alive, they touched Him and spoke and ate with Him!
Lord Jesus is alive today and that is why we can worship Him as God.
Lesson 12: Caste and Community
The caste system is very ancient and very deep-rooted in the Indian society. The society is divided into various castes and sub-castes based on livelihood, religion, and other factors.
There are four main castes into which everyone was categorized. The highest are the Brahmins — the priests, scholars, and philosophers. The lowest are the Dalits. People born in lower caste believe that if they lived a good, moral life, they could be reborn in a higher caste in the next life in the cycle of rebirth. Brahmins may believe that they were born in that high caste because their previous lives were very good and the only step remaining is to be absorbed into god in the next life, free from any more human births (moksha or nirvana).
Caste system is still very prevalent in Indian society, especially where marriages are arranged within the same caste. Marrying outside the caste is often violently opposed by families on both sides. Even among Christians, the caste system is practiced in many marriages, the reasoning being that the couple will be able to adjust better if they have similar backgrounds.
Even though in big cities, especially among the educated, caste distinctions are diminishing, in most of Indian society it is too complex to ignore. Also the family and the community consisting of extended families and friends are deeply involved in a person’s life. People can be ostracized for doing things not accepted by their community.
We as Christians know that every human being is created in the image of God and is equal in His sight and worthy of honor. To demean that image causes deepest wounds and suffering. Assure your contact of his or her great worth in God’s sight. Empathize in their struggles if they want to marry outside of their community, but avoid taking sides against the parents who may oppose such a marriage. Pray that God will remove the caste system completely from Indian society.
Lesson 13: Family, Marriage, and Love
Family is a close-knit unit in India. Children become the focus of parents as soon as they are born and remain so through school, college and married life. In many families even adult children live with the parents, unless their jobs take them to other places, until they get married and settle down with their own families.
Parental approval and blessing are very important to many, whether they be young or old. Many families are extended families, which Indians prefer to call “joint families,” with married children living under the umbrella of the parents. Often grandparents or elderly aunts or uncles are part of the families. Relatives and friends dropping in without warning is the norm. They are offered warm hospitality any time of day or night.
Festivals, religious as well as social, are celebrated joyfully by getting together with a large number of family and friends and with a lot of food, fun and laughter!
For a Hindu, becoming a Christian would mean flouting age-old traditions, defying parents and family and being gossiped about by the society, all of which would mean isolation and ostracism. So many of them are secret Christians – they follow Jesus in their hearts but cannot openly do so in front of their families.
Marriage: In India, arranged marriage is common. It is quite often arranged by parents with help from extended family and friends. When their children are ready for marriage
– usually when the boy has a job and the girl has finished her education – the parents will start looking for suitable mates for them within their religion and caste. Weddings are gala affairs with hundreds of guests. In these arranged marriages, love comes after marriage! The spouses accept each other and build a home. They have the support of the parents and extended family behind them.
Except in big cities, dating openly is rare. Couples rarely openly live together without marriage. Unwed pregnancy is considered a shame.
Love: Young people do fall in love with each other before marriage sometimes – either in college or at work. Then they face the uphill task of getting their families’ approval and blessing, especially if they are from different castes. If they are from different religions, their acceptance by the two families becomes almost impossible and the couple, if they marry, face life-long rejection causing problems in their marriage.
Knowing the social workings of an Indian family will greatly help you as a bible teacher/leader in advising young people who come to you with their problems. We will look at how to answer specific questions on these topics in lessons 14 and 25.
Lesson 14: Interfaith Marriage
We will discuss here how to respond to a seeker who desires to marry a person from another religion.
Christian marrying non-Christian
Suppose a Christian asked if it was okay for them to marry a Hindu or Muslim. Perhaps the Christian’s family does not approve, but the seeker wants your prayer and encouragement for the marriage to happen. Often the young person’s reasoning goes like this: It is unloving and unfair to say that we cannot marry a person of another religion. Surely God wants us to show love and acceptance to all. How can you advise the Christian?
First, keep in mind that “Christian” doesn’t always mean born-again, Bible-believing Christian. Don’t assume that the “Christian” inquirer is saved. Answer cautiously and try to discern the true situation.
Certainly, God addresses the issue of unequally yoked marriage. With a Christian seeker, you can share 2 Cor. 6:14-16 and the specific reasons why believers shouldn’t marry unbelievers. A word of caution about that unequally yoked verse: As is typical for Apostle Paul, he makes extreme comparisons:
Don’t be unequally yoked with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? . . . For we are the temple of the living God. (2 Corinthians 6:14-16)
Many non-Christians are fine people, loving and honest. Understandably, they (or the Christian who has already fallen in love with one) could be highly offended by the suggestion that they are “wicked” or belong to the devil. These are theological truths about a non-believer’s ultimate destiny that are too difficult to explain in ARC responding. Simply state the command not to be unequally yoked (partnered or married) with a non-believer, and back it up with practical wisdom. The challenges of interfaith marriages are:
- In eastern cultures, a person does not marry only an individual, but marries into a family and community. It is not enough that the future spouse promises not to force the Christian to convert to another religion. Other family members could put so much pressure that the Christian would be forced to convert or be miserable.
- Bringing up children and teaching them a religious outlook is something difficult for single people to foresee. The children may end up siding with one parent against another, or learning that religion doesn’t really matter after all – which both parents may not intend!
- The sadness of one partner feeling that the other cannot share his or her deepest beliefs and joys is deep. And after death there is no ultimate consolation for the Christian to spend eternity with the non-Christian spouse.
Non-Christian marrying Christian
Occasionally, you may hear from a non-Christian (Hindu or Muslim) who wants to marry a Christian. In this case, you would want to share the above principles without referring to the Bible verse. Empathize with the seeker, since this is a matter of strong emotions. Assure them that you respect all people, but matters of religious faith are very important in marriage.
What if your seeker is a Hindu background believer whose parents are still Hindu and are pressuring the young person to marry a Hindu? You can encourage your seeker that they should respectfully but firmly decline to marry. They should pray for that intended spouse and try to share Christ with them if there is personal contact between them. If they are actually forced to marry, then that is not their fault. They can then be a loving witness to the non-Christian spouse and pray for the spouse to be saved.
Lesson 15: Horoscope and Astrology
It’s interesting to see all the ways people will try to figure out what’s going to happen in the future: astrology, horoscopes, reading the palms or tea leaves, tarots etc. But they’re going to the wrong source because the only one who knows what’s going to happen next is God.
Astrology and horoscopes are integral parts of Hindu culture. A horoscope is defined as the chart of the position of the planets during the birth of any person. It requires the exact date, time and place of birth of the person.
The basic belief of astrology is that planets and stars exert an influence upon people’s lives. A very popular thing in India is going to an astrologer to have one’s palm read. The lines on one’s palm are supposed to predict events like the person’s length of life, the number of children one will have, etc.
At the birth of a child in every Hindu family, a horoscope is made and read. Often baby names are chosen as suggested by the astrologer. At the time of marriage, for almost every couple, the horoscopes are studied and matched. Some are supposed to be good matches while some others are supposed to be bad matches.
One young girl wrote that she was in love with a boy, but was very afraid of marrying him because their horoscopes were not available to be matched.
God expressly forbids divination, sorcery etc. Faith in anything besides God dishonors God. In Leviticus 19:26 God tells us: “Do not practice divination or sorcery.” Only God knows our future, what He has planned for each one of us. He declares in Jeremiah 29:11: “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Only He knows, no one else knows. In Matthew 6:34, He says “Do not worry about tomorrow.”
A Hindu girl may write you, saying, “Will I marry this year?” A young man may ask, “What will my career be?” They are expecting you to act as an astrologer.
How comforting it will be for a Hindu seeker to hear that God has planned their future and it is good. In Christ all things, even those that seem bad, can work together for our good (Romans 8:28). We can encourage seekers to develop a trusting relationship with God. They don’t need to seek anywhere else or put their trust in anything else.
Lesson 16: The Christian West – A Hindu’s Perception
Sadly, Hindus often denounce Christianity because they see TV shows and movies depicting immorality and materialism that come out of “Christian” countries such as America. From their perspective, America is a Christian country, in the same way that India and Nepal are Hindu countries or Pakistan or Bangladesh are Muslim countries. Therefore, whatever America produces must be “Christian.”
For those of us who are from America or the West, when we’re faced with these types of comments from internet contacts, it is crucial to humbly admit our failures as a culture and as a nation. Our culture does have a lot of sin and many problems but we can remind the seekers that every culture and every country has sin.
We might want to argue that America is actually not a Christian country or a Christian culture, and that the movies and TV shows that portray immorality and other sins are not Christian productions. Although this would be true, pointing it out sometimes isn’t the most helpful approach. It might be better just to acknowledge that it is a bad thing, and countries of every religion have different types of sin.
What matters is whether we as individuals truly honor and obey God. In America, we can explain, there are some people – a minority – who are true followers of Lord Jesus and who reject immorality and materialism. The most important thing is that He is supreme in our lives and in our hearts and minds and we follow His teachings, no matter what socio-religious community or society we belong to.
We must emphasize to the seeker that those of us who do submit to Lord Jesus, whether we live in America or in South Asia or anywhere else in the world, should reject all forms of immorality and materialism even if our culture promotes them. But it is possible only through God’s Spirit living in us that we’re able to live morally right lives before God.
Understanding the “new birth” that Jesus explained to Nicodemus (John 3:1-11) will be completely new and different to the Hindu. And even to some Christians in India! Be careful about using the words “born again,” which to a Hindu mean “reincarnated.” So take time to explain this concept clearly.
Lesson 17: “ Christians go on sinning”
Many Hindus object to Christianity because they think we teach that it’s fine to commit sins since we’re already forgiven. (In fact, many Muslims do too, and even Christians are confused on this issue!) They say Christians go to church, confess their sins, go back and sin again and then confess them again. They have it easy!
They are also proud that they have a strict religion by which they must exert a lot of effort to improve. They believe it is possible to improve themselves in every birth, until they become so pure that they reach moksha (release from the cycle of rebirth).
Sadly, the idea that Christians go on sinning seems to be confirmed by the immorality of the “Christian” West. What we need to tell a Hindu contact is that God’s forgiveness makes us a new person who hates what God hates – SIN. When we come to Lord Jesus, all the old “pleasures” of sin have lost their appeal. Even if we are tempted to go back to our old way of life, we cling to God and He gives us the strength to say “no,” by the power of His Spirit.
We tell the contact that the forgiveness of Lord Jesus does not mean the freedom to sin all we want. Those who continue to choose sin over living rightly aren’t really committed to or submitted to Lord Jesus. God expects Christians who are His true followers to be right before Him in their thoughts, words and actions. The parable of the unmerciful servant is a good way to illustrate this and to prove that the Bible does teach followers of Christ to leave sin.
We can give them a few Bible verses where God clearly commands us:
“Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God.” Romans 6:12-14
“This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in Him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth.”
1 John 1:5-6
Please go out of your way to emphasize the transformed life in balance with presenting forgiveness of sins and “free” grace.
Lesson 18: “ Christians should not convert others”
One of the strong Hindu beliefs is that wherever you are placed by God when you are born, that is where you are meant to be. “If He has placed you in a Hindu family, you have to stay there and do your duty and not change religions. The same is true for those who are born in a Christian family or a Muslim family. That is where you are supposed to be in this lifetime,” they say.
So when we Christians try to evangelize them, they can’t understand why, and are offended. Since they believe in all gods they willingly pray to Lord Jesus also. They simply think, “I accept your god Jesus. I want to pray to Him also. Why do you want me to convert to your religion? I’ll stay a Hindu, but will continue to worship Lord Jesus also along with every other god I want to worship.”
Here we have to tell them why Jesus said “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
We tell them how holy and pure God is and how we cannot approach Him with our sinful, stained heart. Hindu people are very careful about taking a bath and clean their bodies before they go to worship their gods. We can tell them how inward cleansing of the heart is more important than an outward washing of the bodies. And how Jesus is the only one who can wash away all the stains of our heart because He is the only God who lived a perfect life on earth and gave His life for all our sins on the cross.
In fact, that is one thing that makes Jesus very different from Hindu gods – He was morally perfect as God on earth. The other unique feature about Jesus is His resurrection. No Hindu god is said to have resurrected in the way Lord Jesus did.
That Lord Jesus is the only way to God is the hardest thing for a Hindu to accept. It is also the fundamental truth of our Christian faith. At this point we fervently pray for our contacts that the Holy Spirit will open their hearts to this truth.
Hindus sometimes also have the wrong idea that Christians want to increase their numbers by forced conversions, using fraud or inducements. In reply we tell them who a true Christian is – one who has obtained God’s forgiveness and whose life has been made new and who is now a true follower of Lord Jesus. We tell them that no one can really force any one else to “convert” to Christianity, there has to be a true change of heart and life. Most of the stories circulated among Hindus about Christian forced conversions are not true.
There is an in-built contradiction to Hindu “tolerance.” When they say that Christians should not convert anyone, they are trying to “convert” Christians (change their minds) toward the Hindu viewpoint! It will be very difficult for them to admit this, however. One Hindu wrote, “I’m not trying to convert you to my religion. Why do you want me to convert to your religion?”
To a Hindu, “conversion” means changing religion or community. In the Bible, “conversion” means a change of heart or mind. So handle this gently – our aim is not to embarrass anyone, but to help them seek truth.
Lord Jesus said: “Small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:14
Lesson 19: “Christians are intolerant”
In India, Christians are often thought to be narrow-minded and intolerant just because we insist that Lord Jesus is the only way to God.
“I accept your God, but you are not willing to accept mine. Why?”
“I am glad you are a Christian and worship Lord Jesus. Why don’t you accept that I want to be a Hindu and worship my gods?”
“You are arrogant. You are saying that you are right and I am wrong – that worshipping Jesus is the only right path to heaven.”
“I think you are intolerant. I accept all religions. You are not willing to accept any except yours.”
These are some of the comments from your contacts you may get as you keep trying to present them the gospel and explain why Jesus is the only way to God. Please don’t take them personally. All of them stem from their broad acceptance that all paths lead to one God.
Gently try to show them that truth must be revealed by God to us humans. We are actually being humble, not arrogant, when we admit we cannot be so good, smart, holy, or disciplined that we “attain” the truth (Eph. 2:8-9).
Pray that the Holy Spirit will open their hearts to the revealed (not attained) truth of the Gospel and His light will shine in their hearts showing them Lord Jesus, the only Way to God. In John 14:6, He clearly affirms:
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
If this is true, it would be selfish of us to keep it to ourselves. We share this good news with others out of humility and concern for them.
Keep presenting the Gospel with love and patience without any confrontation or challenge as long as the contact is communicating with you and you know that he or she is reading what you write to them. The Holy Spirit may work in their hearts even years from now and bring to their minds all that you are giving them now. Eternity will show you the fruit of your loving labor among the Hindu people for the Lord.
Lesson 20: Karma – “I have to pay for my own sins ”
As we have seen in Lesson 2 on Hindu beliefs, “Karma” is the law of cause and effect. Hindus believe that the problems they face in this life are the result of their sins in their past life. One man said about his neighbor suffering from a kidney problem, “We don’t know what he did to suffer like this.” If they have a happy life now, they believe it is reward for the good things they must have done in their past life.
Here is what Arpan wrote:
“We are paying for our sins, otherwise we will all be equal in all respect. The degree of sin determines our present situation. The suffering, the poverty, born cripple, born rich, being healthy etc are all related to our past karma. As you sow so shall you reap. Nothing exists without Karma. I’m paying for my sins right now. So is every one else.”
In such a belief system, they are resigned to their fate – “This is my life, I have to face it. There is no escape from it.” Also “each has to pay for his or her own sins. Lord Jesus cannot pay for my sins. I have to pay for them myself.”
These precious people need the Savior who has come to give them the way of escape from their belief in karma. Lord Jesus has paid for all our sins, because we are incapable of doing so. This is the grace of God, given freely to all. We cannot earn a good life by being good. No one is “good” in God’s sight. All are sinners who need God’s forgiveness.
All people suffer in this world. Calamities are part of life in this world for everyone. They are part of the general curse for mankind’s disobedience, but they are not necessarily punishment from God for specific acts of the individual who is suffering. But Lord Jesus promises His children, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” He upholds us and gives us light and strength through the trials. Only in heaven there will be no more suffering or sorrow. Only Lord Jesus can give us heaven. We cannot earn it by being good according to our standards.
Just sending a prayer with a Bible verse for a Hindu contact who is going through problems will draw him or her to Lord Jesus. Also pray for a miracle for them. God does a lot of miracles still through missionaries who are serving among unreached, hostile people in India and other places. He will do the same through you.
Good verses that help to address these issues are: Hebrews 9:27, Psalm 89:48, Psalm 49:8, 9, & 15 (no human can redeem another’s life, not even his own; God redeems us in the person of Jesus who is God on earth), Proverbs 20:9, Luke 18:9-14.
Lesson 21: “What is love, What is life? ”
Often a Hindu contact may simply ask, “What is life?” or “What is love?” Or you may see a simple statement: “love is god,” “truth is god.”
We know that entire books can be written on what is the meaning of life or love! They are popular topics among philosophically-oriented Hindus (see lesson 4). Yet the seeker is looking for some simple answers which will help him or her understand these fundamental questions. So here is a great opening for us to tell them about what God teaches us about life and love in the Bible.
“What is life?” The Bible says God created us in His own image – so that we might know Him and His love and love Him back. He wants to be our Father and wants us to be His children. But with all our sins, we have fallen far away from Him. So to bring us back, He came to earth as Lord Jesus and sacrificed His own life. This is the aim of our life – to know the love of God, the Father, through the love of His Son, Lord Jesus.
“What is love?” We can tell the seekers how we can truly understand life and love only when we come to understand the unconditional love God has for us. (You will have to explain what “unconditional” means, maybe with a simple example.) Explain how He showed His love to us by sending His own Son (incarnation) into this world. How Lord Jesus came to this world, lived and died for us, because He loved us so very much. That by the way He lived and died and came back to life again, He taught us to love our family, friends, neighbors, strangers and even our enemies. How when we decide to give our hearts to Lord Jesus, He comes into our hearts and teaches us how to live a life full of love for others.
“We love, because God first loved us,” wrote the Apostle John in 1 John 4:19. There is no other way we can know the true meaning of life and love except by experiencing this amazing love of God. That love will then flow from us to everyone around us.
The statement “love is god” resembles the biblical statement “God is love.” But the big difference is that the Hindus depersonalize God to a mere concept by saying “love is god” or “truth is god.” So be careful to respond that God is a personal being whose main character trait is love. And He demonstrates it as He interacts in human history.
You can explain that we all know who the prime minister of India is (or whatever country your seeker is from), but do you know him personally? It is a precious truth that everyone on earth can know God personally through Jesus Christ – not just know “about” Him.
Lesson 22: God’s favor and punishment
A lady, who is a university professor, smiled and said “I can’t believe I do ‘pooja’ (worship) to this many different types of idols. But if I don’t and I have an accident on my way home, I’ll think I have displeased one of the gods and regret not doing the pooja.”
This belief sums up why Hindus worship so many gods – to propitiate all gods so that they will not send misfortune to them – just to be on the safe side!
They also worship and do all kinds of fasting and penance to get the favor of the gods and their blessings. If they are prosperous and healthy, if their children study well or marry well, they rejoice that god’s favor is on them. But if any calamity befalls them such as poverty or ill-health, they bemoan what they have done to deserve it and do more pooja, penance etc. to ward off the anger of the gods.
They need to know the unconditional love of God found in Lord Jesus who gave His life to save them and make them His children. A loving Heavenly Father whose love does not depend on their works but on His grace freely given to all who come to Him.
Also calamities are part of life in this world for everyone. They are part of the general curse for mankind’s disobedience, but they are not necessarily punishment from God for specific acts of the individual who is suffering. But Lord Jesus promises His children, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” He upholds us and gives us light and strength through the trials.
Just sending a prayer with a Bible verse for a Hindu contact who is going through problems will draw him or her to Lord Jesus. Also pray for a miracle for them. God does a lot of miracles still through missionaries who are serving among unreached, hostile people in India. He will do the same through you, an Online Missionary, reaching out to them through the internet.
Lesson 23: “I am a Hindu, but I love Lord Jesus”
You may be confused by statements such as this. Your immediate thought would be if this person loves Lord Jesus, he or she is not a Hindu. You may hasten to tell the person that he or she cannot be a Hindu and follow Lord Jesus at the same time.
You may have Hindu contacts who very willingly listen to the gospel and the Bible stories when you give them to them. They will be eager for you to pray to Lord Jesus for them. Of course this comes from their belief that there are many paths to one Creator God and it does not matter to them which religion anyone follows. If this is the case, please see lesson 5 for more information.
On the other hand, this could be a person who has given his or her heart to Lord Jesus and wants to follow only Him. Outwardly, they are still Hindus among their families and in their society for fear of being ostracized due to their faith. (Also see lessons 12, 13, and 28.) But their hearts long for spiritual food and fellowship with Lord Jesus which they cannot find anywhere except through the media.
It is very important at this point to begin by answering their questions or comments. Ask them questions such as how and when they came to Lord Jesus, about their family, if they have any Christian friends and so on. As they open up and begin to feel comfortable sharing with you, you can begin discipling them in their faith.
Many of them yearn for their family’s salvation and will ask for prayers. Be sure to send them a prayer and assure them that you will pray for their family.
Ask them if they have a Bible to read, whether they would like to read it in English or in their language and send them a link to a Bible site. Since India has many languages, we cannot find all of them on www.youversion.com. We can always google “Bible in (their language)” and send them the site.
As always before you reply, pray for God’s guidance to be sensitive to their needs. You will be blessed as much as they are blessed by your tender care of them in their lonely faith journey.
Lesson 24: “My family will reject me if I convert”
You may hear from contacts who fear that their family will reject them if they tell them that they want to worship only Lord Jesus and become Christians.
As we have seen before (See Lesson 13 on Family, Marriage and Love), in Hindu society, family relationships play a very important role in the life of an individual, especially in major decisions like deciding whom to marry. It’s understandable, therefore, that a person’s family would be offended if they know that their son or daughter has rejected their age-old religion, Hinduism, and their generational culture and wants to convert to Christianity.
If someone writes with this concern, it is important to encourage him or her that their changed life will be a testimony to their family. As the seeker allows Lord Jesus to work in their life, God’s Spirit will change their heart and their outward behavior will begin to reflect the inward change. As they begin to live out the fruits of the Spirit, their family should notice the change and appreciate it.
Make sure not to insist on unnecessary steps, like changing name. This will only anger the family. It will be taken as a rejection of family and culture, not just religion. Many Hindu names have beautiful spiritual meanings, like “Prakash” (light) or “Arpit” (dedicated). (You can ask your seeker the meaning of his/her name, even before they accept Christ, and use that as a topic of discussion.)
Other Hindu names are names of deities, like “Ram.” Even if Ram trusts Christ, do not make an issue of changing his name. In the New Testament, some believers changed their names but others did not (e.g. Demetrius, meaning “follower of the goddess Demeter,” in 3 John vs. 12, was a believer who was not compelled to change his name).
It is not an option for the new believer to leave their family and be on their own. It is extremely difficult and lonely for them without the support of their family and community. Sadly most churches in India are not equipped to support or mentor new believers who are likely to be rejected by their families.
Hence the seeker may decide to keep their faith secret. In fact, many of them find joy and comfort with the communication they have with other Christians and openly profess their faith to us and ask for prayers for their families to be saved. What a privilege and blessing for us to be the sole support for them in their lonely journey! Encourage them and pray for them and bless them with prompt responses.
Send them discipleship lessons and discuss Bible teachings so they can grow spiritually. Do not put undue pressure on them to announce their beliefs to their families. They can be the judge of that, guided by the Holy Spirit and your supportive prayers. Your reward is waiting for you in heaven when they come running to you to give you a hug and thank you!
Lesson 25: “I have to observe Hindu rituals and festivals”
Sometimes you may have Hindu contacts, who have decided to follow only Lord Jesus, writing to you for advice about having to join worship of Hindu gods with their family.
One such Hindu contact was a follower of Lord Jesus. But he was afraid to talk about Him to his family. The family forbade him to mention anything Christian. They were afraid he was converting to Christianity. This is one type of situation.
Another contact, a young girl, Surya, openly declared her faith to her family.
They accepted it as worshipping the Christian God along with their Hindu gods. Then she wrote and asked: “My mom wants me to come to the temple when she goes there to do pooja (Hindu worship rituals). Is it a sin for me to go with her?” She didn’t want to antagonize or hurt her mom.
For those of us from Christian backgrounds, our first thought may be to tell them, “No, you cannot go anywhere near idols if you really want to worship Lord Jesus.” But if we keep in mind that their culture is rooted in traditions thousands of years old, we soon realize that very difficult family situations like these need our sensitivity and compassion.
This is how we can advise them:
“First, there is the option of keeping quiet about your faith and going to the temple and doing pooja worship which will be expected of you.”
“Jesus knows your heart for Him. If you are still young enough to be living at home under your parents’ authority and provision, to some extent doing what they want is necessary. In Ephesians 6:2-3 God says, ‘Honour your father and mother… that it may go well with you….’ Even voluntarily doing something you would rather not do can be seen as honouring them and keeping peace in the home (Romans 12:16-18).”
“Try to avoid prasad (food offered to a Hindu god) and other rituals. But if you have to, just pray to Lord Jesus affirming your love for Him. If you cannot refuse the prasad, offer it to Jesus and accept it in His name. Many times parents can be satisfied with that – just attendance at functions – and will not force anything more than that.”
“Having chosen to worship Lord Jesus as our only God, we are still members of our family and community as much as possible. Simply lift up Jesus and show in many small, maybe silent, ways that you want to follow Him alone. Do it all joyfully. Let it be seen how Jesus is changing your life for good. If they see your devotion to Him and your loving, respectful behaviour, if they see Jesus’ power to answer prayers, then they will be more likely to follow Him. Keep praying for them and hold on to your faith in Lord Jesus.”
Lesson 26: “Eating meat is a sin of violence”
Many Hindus believe that ahimsa, the law of non-violence, or not hurting other life, is the Hindu’s first duty in fulfilling religious obligations to God and God’s creations according to their Vedic scriptures. Mainly the highest caste group called Brahmins and those who follow Jainism and Buddhism do not eat meat. The very thought of not only killing an innocent animal or bird and causing it pain but also eating its flesh is abhorrent to them.
Other Hindus do eat meat and point to their Vedas where it says it is okay to eat meat. But almost all do not eat beef because a cow gives milk and is supposed to be sacred.
So how do we reply to a contact who says “Eating meat is a sin of violence against animals and against their Creator”?
As we respond to them, we need to remember that they have grown up in families and communities which have these beliefs. Since whether we eat meat or not is not relevant to our faith and to sharing the gospel, it is better we do not get in to an argument with them about this.
Many from the very rigid Brahmin community of India are turning to Lord Jesus, yet maintaining their culture at the same time. They remain vegetarians. It is easier for meat-eaters to become vegetarians than for life-long vegetarians to start eating meat!
We can tell our contacts that becoming a Christian does not mean they have to start eating meat. As we read in Romans 14:20-21:
“Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.”
Someone may say “Christians are sinning by eating meat.” While avoiding argument, you can give these points: 1) God allows it in the Bible, and if the Creator allows it, who are we to say we have a better standard than God? 2) This is also tied up in the belief in reincarnation, and that animals are also life-forms with souls. The Bible teaches otherwise (Hebrews 9:27), so killing an animal for food is not equal to taking a human life. 3) Ultimately, we can bring the issue back to the solution for the problem of sin. Who can keep any religious rule perfectly? Whether meat-eating or any other sin, God provided the sacrifice to cover what we cannot do by our own efforts. This is good news, but adding another rule we cannot keep perfectly is not good news.
Lesson 27: Resources
Visit www.nayajeevan.org/oc for free online courses about Lord Jesus.
Websites for Hindus and Christians:
http://www.karma2grace.org http://www.urbanindia.org (family ministry)
http://www.mahalife.com http://www.southasianconnection.com http://www.nayajeevan.org
The books I most highly recommend for Christians on evangelising Hindus and Muslims:
General – “Questioning Evangelism” by Randy Newman
Hindu – “The Spirit of Hinduism” by David Burnett
“A Way of Life: Introducing Hinduism” by Robin Thomson and Ram Gidoomal Muslim – “The Crescent through the Eyes of the Cross,” by Nabeel Jabbour “Muslims, Christians, and Jesus,” by Carl Medearis
“The Camel,” by Kevin Greeson
For a more complete recommended reading list, see “Articles” page in www.Nayajeevan.org/Resources