Since it’s inception at the end of Jesus’ life and succession of the power and influence of the Holy Spirit on the earth, there has been an acknowledgement that the actual conversion process of someone into the Kingdom of God occurs by one’s own free will, and through the redemptive power of the Holy Spirit alone. While still acknowledged, the beliefs and actions of Christianity have changed much since then. They have shifted towards more of a work-based mentality, while theoretically still reserving the actual moment of conversion to the Holy Spirit (various nuances are left to individual theological doctrines). God has been called “King” (not unbiblical), but associations have been linked to the monarch mentality of other nations. The zenith of this could be said to be the belief in the “Divine Right of Kings”, an central political belief in the Middle Ages, when the Christian church was still interwoven into the political powers of the West.
At the end of the Roman Empire (Italy), there was a major cultural and religious shift incorporating Christianity into the fundamental nature of society. To be a Roman was to be a Christian. As the religion spread, it did so more through political influence and even bloodshed. Christianity was to reign over all the earth, by whatever means necessary! This is probably a familiar line of reasoning (Hitler, Stalin, Mao Zedong). Ideologies such as “The ends justify the means”, and “Survival of the Fittest” are closely linked here. And Christianity was indeed a powerful scepter to wield. Many paganistic tribes were quelled with the dutiful and selfless traditions of the Christian religion. But many wars, tragedies, debates, and negativity also resulted from an ever-spreading proselytizing religion of grace.
But this isn’t the gospel that Jesus came to bring, or the method He planned for it to be delivered. Jesus’ own life was one of intense relationship. First with His Father God (whom He spent the most time with), then with his inner group of three disciples (Peter, James, John), the larger group of twelve disciples, and then greater yet were the community of the families of all of the disciples. He was not secluded to his pre-Christian community, but actively walked the streets, interacted with people, and spread a message of love (with no conversional advances to speak of). Jesus was a wise Rabbi during his ministry, whom many Jews came to for wisdom and spiritual advice. He answered with humility and level-headed reasoning. He answered like His loving Father would have. His common teaching style was story-telling, which attracted an unprecedented audience among Rabbis of the day. Perhaps the most powerful attribute Jesus’ ministry had was his lifestyle. He lived what He taught. It’s important to acknowledge His ministry was indeed a large part of His life, but He also carried on as a carpenter (or mason, or accurately). He had emphasized working with people as a part of his career, but still contributed to the economy. He acknowledge the civil government’s authority in the Empire, and yet was still approachable even though His language was often strange and mystical.
The art of true Christian evangelism in today’s world should be approached with delicacy. Undoubtedly, there is resistance to the religion’s jaded past, while God is less of a recipient of the hostility. Christianity appears to have given God a bad name, if modern stats could be referenced. Spirituality is strong and even growing, while Christianity grows more and more non-denominational, theologically diverse, and culturally nuanced. Jesus never emphasized how God did things in His interaction with mankind in the past (nor is it in the Bible). What was significant was the core message of the character of God’s heart of love that never stopped reaching out to all people. The Bible does reveal a very dark and sobering picture of mankind’s actions (and God’s responses to those actions), but more importantly, it reveals an immeasurable consistency of God’s reconciliatory motive to return us to intimate relationship with Himself.