“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi (born Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi on October 2, 1869 in Porbandar, India) was an activist and religious contemplative. He began his involvement in social activism in the early 1900’s as an Indian immigrant in South Africa. In the years following World War I, he went on to become the primary leader of India’s struggle to gain liberation from Great Britain. Gandhi is perhaps best remembered as the father of nonviolent passive resistance. Employing peaceful civil disobedience, Gandhi led India to independence and inspired movements for non-violence, civil rights and freedom across the world.
Mahatma (which means “great soul”) was a Hindu. He greatly admired some of the teachings of Jesus. In fact, some historical narratives affirm that the Sermon on the Mount shaped his whole philosophy of life. But Gandhi was not a Christian. A true follower of the Christ is much more than someone who simply regards Jesus as a “great teacher” or a “wise prophet”.
Some writers tell of a missionary named E. Stanley Jones who asked Mr. Gandhi why he so often quoted the words of Jesus and yet appeared to so adamantly reject becoming his follower. Gandhi allegedly replied, “Oh, I don’t reject your Christ. I love your Christ. It is just that so many of you Christians are so unlike your Christ”.
Really. You claim to love Jesus but you do not follow Him because Christians are so unlike Him? (Where have I heard that before?)
Honestly, missionary Jones messed up. He should have seized that moment and said,
Mr. Gandhi, I agree with you. Christians are often a mess. Many are hypocrites. Sometimes they even act like the devil. But sir, no one has asked you to follow the Christians. My question to you again is, why are you not a follower of Jesus?
The great commission does not say go into all the world and make Christians out of everybody? Listen to what Jesus actually said,
19“Go and make followers of all the nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19 New Life Version)
Followers? That’s what it says. Of whom? JESUS, of course. Certainly not you or the brand name of the church you attend. Not the newest Christian movement of the month either. Our commission is to help others become followers of JESUS and teach them to obey His words and imitate His life.
The Gospel (which simply means GOOD NEWS) is all about Jesus. He is the liberator of mankind and the source of true wisdom, knowledge and understanding of human life on earth.
The Gospel message is flawless. It declares the love and grace of the creator of all things (God) toward a doomed world. Christianity is not flawless. Christianity is simply the imperfect human interpretation (response to) and inconsistent expression of the Gospel message. Only Jesus is perfect and He is the perfector of mankind. Christianity (the Church) at best, is an imperfect work in progress.
“The Church is not a gallery for the exhibition of eminent Christians, but a school for the education of imperfect ones”. ” – Henry Ward Beecher
The New Testament writer, Paul, said:
“For consider, what have the philosopher, the writer and the critic of this world to show for all their wisdom? Has not God made the wisdom of this world look foolish? For it was after the world in its wisdom failed to know God, that he in his wisdom chose to save all who would believe by the “simple-mindedness” of the Gospel message. For the Jews ask for miraculous proofs and the Greeks an intellectual panacea, but all we preach is Christ crucified””a stumbling block to the Jews and sheer nonsense to the Gentiles, but for those who are called, whether Jews or Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. And this is really only natural, for God’s “foolishness” is wiser than men, and his “weakness” is stronger than men.” (1 Corinthians 1:20-25 – PHILLIPS)
Paul was fully aware that the arrogance of Greek philosophy would likely dismiss the message of the Gospel as “foolishness.” It would be out of step with their cerebral conjectures. But he was also convinced that the Good News contained the one philosophy that fulfills every human need. The Gospel message presents the finished work of Jesus (the Christ) in an easily understood format to a lost world. Jesus represents the perfect man even as he is the very manifestation of the incarnate God visiting this planet. So, whether to the Greek (non-Jews), or to the Jew, Paul was not ashamed to preach the Gospel message.
I find no shame in sharing the wonderful Good News of Jesus with anyone who would care to listen. But please make no mistake, as a Christian, I am not asking you to follow me nor am I asking you to attend my church or “get religion”. I am asking you to hear what Jesus had to say and follow Him.
16-17 “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel. I see it as the very power of God working for the salvation of everyone who believes it, both Jew and Greek. I see in it God’s plan for imparting righteousness to men, a process begun and continued by their faith. For, as the scripture says: ‘the just shall live by faith’.” (Romans 1:16-17 – PHILLIPS)
We are lost and depraved people stranded on a doomed planet in need of enlightenment and liberation. The remedy for our dilemma is made known in the gospel; a gracious method of redemption through the liberator Jesus who restores us to a position of favor with the creator of all things (God). Faith (trust) is the catalyst, both at the inception and through the progression of the Christian life. By faith (trust) we secure our liberation, and by faith (trust) we gain the victory over unbelief. “The just shall live by faith.” A life of faith is a life of trust and obedience.
“To have Faith in Christ means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him.” – C.S. Lewis
Gandhi may have had one point worth a moment’s ponderance; if the word Christian means follower of Christ, is it so unreasonable that our contemporary world balks at Churches filled with people who seldom practice what they preach? The Scripture urges all Christians to “Be doers of the Word and not just mere hearers lest you deceive yourselves” (James 1:22). It is not enough to just say “I am a Christian”. Our way of life should reflect the Jesus we claim to follow.
Just because someone carries a Bible and even sounds religious doesn’t mean that they are a true follower of Jesus. Head this warning,
15-20 “Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don’t be impressed with charisma; look for character. Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say. A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook. These diseased trees with their bad apples are going to be chopped down and burned”. (Matthew 7:15-20 – The Message)
A Christian is one whose life is built on the teachings of Jesus and the New Testament writers. But remember, Christians are not faultless – far from it. That is why you should not judge the validity of the Jesus message by the level of application found in his disciples. A true Christian is someone who has found rest for their soul in the liberator Jesus and who attempts to live the life that Jesus modeled when he visited earth.
“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” – Brennan Manning
Christian – the world is watching you. People are reading the “Book of You” every day. What message are they receiving? Hmmmmm?
Enough said ….
Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher and a rabbid Coastal Junkie ®
For additional information write to: Coastal Life Ministries, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656