Sunday, November 26, 2006


I recently came again across the quote from Ghandi when asked why he never accepted Christ even though he so often quoted Jesus' words. He responded "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." I have 2 thoughts on this.

First, I have always seen this used to call us Christians to act more like Christ. This is, of course, a valid point. We so often look to impact our culture by beating them into submission, when Jesus' method was to love them. Just love them. Not love them to change them, but just to love them. They often changed, but that wasn't his point. God loves all men, and the more we authentically love men, the more effective we will be in proclaiming Christ.

But second, I think Ghandi was not being honest. Surely he did not apply the principle that all men must unfailingly act on their convictions to those closest to him. In moments of self-honesty, he surely did not even apply this principle to himself. All men fail, and fail consistently, to be who they proclaim themselves to be. Often, we claim to be what we want to be, rather than what we are. We are not being hypocrites, we are being human. I have heard it said that we judge others by their actions but ourselves by our intentions. This is unfair both to us and to others.

But more than that, Ghandi looked only where he wanted to look. Every movement has people whose membership has less to do with adherence to core principles than it does to social or political expediency. But if you look in the places where Jesus spent His time, you will more often than not find the people who are most like Him. Had Ghandi allowed himself to compare those people to the words and message of Christ, he would have had less of an excuse for ultimately rejecting the claims of Christ.

It is my desire to be one of those Christians. Because I don't want to get in the way. But if you are looking at me, or any other person, to reflect Jesus perfectly, stop looking in the wrong place. Look to Jesus, and let Him change you as you surrender yourself to Him, and then you can begin to reflect Him.


Anonymous said...

But you cannot deny that Ghandi's point was pretty fair. Take a look at the Catholic Church (I can pick on them because I am a recovering Catholic). For an organization that claims to follow the teachings of Jesus, they sure seems to spend alot of time explaining themselves and their intention. In addition, they have an awful lot of lawyers on retainer. The Catholic Church has a long history of saying one thing and doing something completely different. If Jesus were joining a church today, do you think He would become a Catholic? I would like to believe that he might take issue with all of the corruption and hypocrisy. Since so many people hide under the church, is Ghandi's statement really all that unfair? Studying church law seems to take longer than studying Jesus' teachings. Do you think Jesus would need to have a lawyer?

Being a Catholic or a Methodist or whatever flavor you choose is easier than being Christian. Its not an observation, just a reality.


Bad Methodist said...

And what's wrong with being a Methodist? ;) (Just kidding)

I think you're right on the money, but what concerns me is that sometimes Christians are the only gateway through which people get to know Christ. There's the Bible, yeah, but if you'd had a big heavy book used repeatedly to beat you over the head with, would you be all that interested in getting anywhere near it let alone reading it for yourself? I think not. I think we underestimate our power to suck God away from people. I identify a lot with the R.E.M. song "Losing My Religion" for that reason.

The rub is, as you've noted, we're ALL imperfect representatives of Christ. But I think we'd all be a lot better representatives if we shouted LOVE a little more loudly and judgment and finger-wagging a lot less. After all, the only time Jesus did that was when he was pointing the finger straight back at the religious leaders.

Dr. Don said...

You are both correct. And you should know that I am both a recovering Catholic and Methodist, so I've got you both beat. :-)

Seriously, there is much to complain about when you look at what powerful people have done with Jesus' teachings. Of all the things that I have seen God so in me in the last year, it is the understanding that Jesus loves sinners, of whom I am the chief, that is most profound.

It saddens me that we sometimes make it easy for people to desise Jesus' teachings by our actions; but I think it is fair to note that there are many in the church, people of no power, who demonstrate Christ's teachings in powerful ways in their own lives. I think too often those people are strategically ignored by those who would desise the church.

Anonymous said...

Many interesting thoughts Dr. Don. There are many ways to worship the Saviour, and we often tend to look at others way as "wrong". As you said, we tend to judge ourselves by our intention, and others by their actions. I found that thought very challenging, I'll remember it!

Pastor Jeffs Aunt Susan