I’ve just finished reading Brian McLaren’s book, Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?: Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World. It’s a fantastic book – I highly recommend it. In it, he has some thoughts from Ghandi in regards to Christianity that are worth repeating.
A Methodist missionary to India, E. Stanley Jones, asked Ghandi how Christianity could spread more naturally, more organically, so it’s not seen as an invasive power, but rather as contributing to India’s causes. Ghandi’s replies are powerful.
He could have stopped at the first one, but he gives four reflections listed below:
- “I would suggest, first of all, that all of you Christians, missionaries and all, begin to live more like Jesus Christ.”
- “Second, I would suggest that you must practice your religion without adulterating or toning it down.”
- “Third, I would suggest that you must put your emphasis upon love, for love is the center and soul of Christianity.”
- “Fourth, I would suggest that you study the non-Christian religions and culture more sympathetically in order to find the good that is in them, so that you might have a more sympathetic approach to the people.”
These are powerful reflections from a Hindu. The practitioners of Christianity often do not go deep enough into the depths of Jesus. Instead of becoming like Jesus, they become fence builders/maintainers, erecting doctrinal walls. They create otherness instead of brotherness.
Following Jesus means crossing to the other side in humility and reconciliation. It means a robust faith with a gentle heart. It’s a spirit of love versus a spirit of hostility. It’s seeking first to understand than to be understood.
Thanks for reading,
~ Ted Olson