Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Gandhi & Christianity
Gandhi & Christianity. Those are not two words that most people would associate together. However, I feel that Gandhi has some powerful insight into Christianity and we need to hear his voice. I know this may be uncomfortable for some to hear or see but please follow along and maybe we can hear a whisper from God in a very unusual place - Gandhi.
This may be my longest post that I have put on this blog but I believe that this post may be one of my more profound ones as I wrestle with how we act and react in our christian communities.
Gandhi had a great admiration for the Holy Scripture. He thought if individuals would follow the Scriptures, great things would occur. When speaking of the beatitudes, this is what he had to say about them: "They contain a message that would save the world. What a pity that Christians have been listening to the message for two thousand years, but they [the Christians] are like stones lying in the water for centuries, never soaking up a single drop.
Why can't we soak in the beatitudes and live them out ??
Maybe the following story can give us an insight on why Gandhi did not have problem speaking of scripture and knowing it. There was a ministry who really wanted to witness to the Hindu crowd and this is what occurred:
Once when the missionary E. Stanley Jones met with Ghandi he asked him, "Mr. Ghandi, though you quote the words of Christ often, why is that you appear to so adamantly reject becoming his follower?" Ghandi replied, "Oh, I don't reject your Christ. I love your Christ. It's just that so many of you Christians are so unlike your Christ."
Later on in life Stanley jones spoke of gandhi with high respect and said the following: E. Stanley Jones said of him: 'He taught me more of the spirit of Christ than anyone in East or West.'
Why can't we be like our Christ ?
I am sure you may be wondering if there was a single moment in his life where he "rejected" Christianity .... The answer is YES. He got kicked out of a church with an elder telling him never come near our church again. Gandhi came to worship and he was turned away. He then made the following statement: How we treat those others tells people MORE about what we believe, and what following Jesus means to us than all tracts we pass out, or all the fine semons we deliver.
So, how are you treating people ?
I think that one of the most interesting statements that he ever made was the following statement: If Christians would really live according to the teachings of Christ, as found in the Bible, all of India would be Christian today. But, almost in the same breath, he states the following: there is nothing that really stands out in scripture that relates to how people live.
Is the life you are living impacting individuals ?
The distaste he had and his full grasping did not occur but once again, he has a statement that grabs me. Here is a quote from a book on Gandhi & Christianity:
"The message of Jesus as I understand it," said Gandhi, "is contained in the Sermon on the Mount unadulterated and taken as a whole... If then I had to face only the Sermon on the Mount and my own interpretation of it, I should not hesitate to say, 'Oh, yes, I am a Christian.' But negatively I can tell you that in my humble opinion, what passes as Christianity is a negation of the Sermon on the Mount... I am speaking of the Christian belief, of Christianity as it is understood in the west."
There is so much more that I can go with. I know that I focused on the positives for the majority of the post and there is a reason for that .... I was asked to write on this subject and how he may give us hope for the messiness in our world.
In simple terms, life really is easy. It is saying yes to God and following God. It does not matter what people do to you, what they say and that dreams around you get shattered. What life is about is loving God and loving others and allowing the Holy Scriptures to seep out of you and run into everyone that you meet.
In time of hurt, I will listen for God's voice in the words of Gandhi when he said .... The gentle figure of Christ, so patient, so kind, so loving, so full of forgiveness that he taught his followers not to retailate when abused or struck, but to turn the other cheek ...
Who do you need to love and be kind to ?