To be Thai is to be Buddhist and to be Buddhist is to be Thai. Don’t sell your nationality by becoming a Christian. This common belief is one of the reasons why the gospel has been resisted for so long in Thailand.
John 3:16 is the best verse for the West with a Judeo-Christian heritage, but the worst in the East.
• For God – There is no concept of a Creator God in Buddhism. It is atheistic, although Mahayana Buddhists recognize deities and small gods.
• so loved the world – Buddha taught that suffering comes from loving the world and all the desires in it. We must detach ourselves from the snares of the world. Is God still attached to it?
• that He gave His only Son – There is no concept of a deity having a son… (from a wife?)
• so that whoever believes in Him will not die – Death and re-birth in the cycle of reincarnation, depending on one’s karma, is an important prerequisite in the journey to Nirvana.
• but have eternal life – Buddha said “All of life is suffering” and we need to escape from this curse and be absorbed into the wider cosmos of nothingness (Nirvana); not eternal suffering!
However, Jesus Christ gives us the power to fill the gaps in Buddhist ethics. Here are some bridges:
When you Die, where do you Go? was the name of a tract I often used when evangelising. Buddha’s last words were “Decay is inherent in all things. Work out your own salvation”. He had no solution for the law of death and was under it himself. In Christ, death has lost its sting.
Power Encounters - either through being healed or seeing deliverance from evil spirits in the Name of Christ. Thai Buddhists believe evil spirits must be placated, lest they do harm. However, the Christian gives them no foothold and expels them. When family and friends in a rural town saw Pa Loy totally delivered from sickness and an evil spirit attack, their interest in the gospel was heightened and Christians were encouraged in their faith.
Jesus took care of our karma on the Cross. I remember seeing a talkback show on TV in which someone asked a Buddhist monk why there are bad people. His response was “Because they have more animal in them than human”. For a Buddhist to fail means more years in the reincarnation cycle. For a Christian there is forgiveness and cleansing through the sacrifice of Jesus, because we are powerless to live up to our standards.