Missionaries on the field are often confronted by man-made sacrificial systems offering forgiveness. Many missionaries live in the shadow of heathen temples, where their ears are constantly assaulted by the sounds of animals being slaughtered and bells calling worshipers to come. Many richly adorned temples have been in existence for centuries. How can the missionary hope to prevail against such deep-rooted paganism?
Of course, God alone, in answer to prevailing prayer, can give victory. Often that victory is shown by demonstrating the difference between the true and the false. Elijah did this in a dramatic way on Mount Carmel when he challenged the priests of Baal (I Kings 18:16-46). The servant of God today often must accomplish this through a life of lowly service. Many times people will try to combine Christianity and another religion, but this is impossible because all other belief systems call upon worshippers to attempt holiness through self-effort. Christianity recognizes the impossibility of such effort because of man’s lost condition. The gospel rests on the merits and death of Christ alone. Christians were persecuted in ancient Rome not because their religion was different from others but because they dared claim that their leader was the one true God come in the flesh. The Romans tolerated many religions as long as each found room for worship of the emperor as well. They felt threatened by a group claiming allegiance to a higher Authority. One who would one day judge all men, even Romans.
What is the difference between refusing to worship a Roman emperor and refusing to worship in government-controlled “churches” in places like communist China today? In both cases Christians witness that the resurrected Christ is greater than any human dictator or government.