Getting Personal

11/30/2009

One of the young people from my church was berated by a fellow student the other day for using the word “pray” in a sentence. The offended party felt somehow attacked or threatened and responded with a verbal assault that would have embarrassed a secular rap artist. The praying party stood silently until the barrage was over and then politely declined to apologize for uttering this “four-letter word.”

My first reaction to this incident was that the “f-bomber” must have run into a self-proclaimed “Christian” at some point and been treated badly, as is usually the case when a young person says they hate Jesus. Or perhaps the student’s parents had simply trained her to react in such a way—years ago I remember a boy  in elementary school who expressed a desire to take an axe to our church and destroy it. Knowing the tradition of his parents, I’m sure he had heard that very desire expressed in his house.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “I like your Christ. I don’t like your Christians.” He was saying that if the followers of Christ actually acted like Christ, he would like them, too. And who could possibly have a problem with Christ, right? All He did was go around preaching love, forgiveness, service and humility. He healed sick people and loved the unlovely. He prayed for the very ones who killed Him. Sure, he got angry a couple of times when the situation called for it and He took issue with some of the authority figures of the day, but I felt that it was almost impossible for someone to dislike Christ if they had any inkling of who He is.

I was wrong.

This morning as I shared this story with a Christian friend, he responded by suggesting that there is, in fact, something about Christ that some people won’t like: the call to repent. Jesus says in Luke 13:3, “I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” This gentle shepherd who taught kindness and love was also the prophet who taught that we must admit when we are wrong and ask to be forgiven. And that is where the message gets too personal for some people. “You want me to say I was wrong? You’re the one who is wrong, not me!”

The call for repentance and forgiveness is a miraculous opportunity and something that is very specific to the Christian faith. But it requires something that some are unable to give. It’s much easier to believe in a distant “God” that just sort of hangs out in his/her/its ethereal realm and doesn’t show up in your left ventricle and whisper, “You need to admit that you have sinned.” Talk about personal!

But it’s the personal relationship with Christ that separates our faith from all other beliefs. There is one gate, one path. Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (Luke 14:6) Be thankful that the one true God cares enough for you that He sacrificed His son in order to show you the way to Paradise…even if it sometimes means admitting that you’re wrong.

 Luke 23:43
Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."

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There are 5 comments

I have read many times this quote by Gandhi. I have often wondered was that an excuse. I think Gandhi really didn't understand who this Jesus is.

Rich
December 02, 2009 - 21:11
Reply to Rich

Rich,

I wholeheartedly agree that Gandhi didn't know Jesus because he didn't have a relationship with him. From what I know of Gandhi and his quest for peace, I would guess he was focused on the fact that Christians often don't seek the way of peace in their private and corporate (United States) lives. And from that perspective it would be hard to argue with him and I too wish that Christians (myself first and foremost!) modeled His behavior more often. But ultimately to know Christ you must have a relationship with him or it's like knowing that it is raining but not understanding what's happening in the clouds

Pastor Kent
December 03, 2009 - 13:58
Reply to Rich

Good point, Rich.

Gandhi isn't alone in his misunderstandings. So many times the world judges our Savior by the saved. Not a good or just judgement if you ask me (though I was guilty of doing that before I met Jesus). It would be okay if they judged rightly - but the world (and too many Christians) think that Jesus came to make bad people good. Jesus didn't come to make bad people good, he came to make dead people live.

If he could have seen spiritual death and life, and would have evaluated Jesus on that basis, even Ghandi would have hungered for The One Who was and is the Bread of Life.

Shawn
December 03, 2009 - 19:06

Amy,

What a joy it is to talk with others about matters of faith. Sadly, this practice doesn't seem fashionable anymore, which is a shame because when you interact with wise people, sometimes some wisdom rubs off! Everyone should have some friends or mentors with whom they can discuss things AND should make the time to do it. :-)

Pastor Kent
November 30, 2009 - 15:46

Thanks for sharing this Kent. It's certainly important to talk about as Christians.

amy
November 30, 2009 - 15:12
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