The comment, in a posting on an Adventist-related weblog, or blog, stopped me cold: “I don’t have the need to force my beliefs on anyone else. It’s not a Christian’s job to tell someone else what they need to do. All of us have to follow our own conscience.”
While “Anna,” the young woman quoted,* is correct in suggesting that “forcing” our beliefs on others is wrong, I would propose, actually, that it is the believer’s duty “to tell someone else what they need to do.”
We need to tell “someone else” they need to repent; Jesus declared as much in Mark 1:15: “ ‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’ ” The Master wasn’t addressing the converted there.
We also need to tell “someone else” that there’s a right and a wrong way to live. “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death” is how it reads in Proverbs 14:12.
And we can advise “someone else” that following his or her own conscience can be hazardous in the extreme. Jeremiah warns: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure” (Jer. 17:9). My apologies to Jiminy Cricket, but we mortals cannot let our conscience “be our guide,” else all would be anarchy.
It’s not a comfortable position to advise repentance so as to avoid calamity. Just ask Jonah! But it’s an essential task for the Christian. And if others are offended, I’m sorry about that, but they must still be warned. The Lord expects no less.
* As quoted in “Teens Speak on Abortion in SDA Hospitals,” posted February 25, 2011, by Melissa Howell at http://bit.ly/lpPKIm.
Mark A. Kellner is news editor of the Adventist Review. This article was published May 26, 2011.