Wednesday’s with Gandhi:“May it not be that “Go ye unto all the world’ message has been somewhat narrowly interpreted and the spirit of it missed? It will not be denied, I speak from experience, that many of the conversions are only so-called. In some cases, the appeal has gone not to the heart but to the stomach.”
-Speeches and writings of Gandhi: p.336, Feb. 14 1916
Gandhi’s reflections come out of his horrible experience as a child in India seeing people convert to Western ways in ‘Christian drag’ and not to Christ.
- Have you too experienced people “Go[ing] Ye…” but not making disciples, that is, students of the nonviolent way of Jesus?
2. The biblical passage which Gandhi is referring to is Matthew 28:18-20. In part it reads, “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you”. Is it the ‘mission’ of the God revealed in Jesus if we are not teaching people the practicalities of what Jesus taught? If we teach a theory of atonement and neglect to teach ‘converts’ to live Jesus’ way have we really made disciples? If we don’t teach giving to the needy in secret (instead of calling a press conference), to pray for God’s will of justice,peace and joy to be done (instead of our will or the will of our nation), to seek first God’s transforming presence (instead of careers or our agenda) to first remove the plank from our own eye (instead of judging others) and to love our enemies (instead of bombing them) have we really made followers, students, disciples of Jesus?
3. Gandhi talked about “so-called” converts where the appeal has gone not “to the heart” but “to the stomach.” In your experience do evangelists today who invite people ‘take up their cross’ and follow Jesus in the way of love come what may? Or simply appeal to peoples stomachs?
4. What might it look like to prayerfully seek to embody an alternative to the “so-called conversions”, the “appeals to the stomach” and “go[ing] ye” without calling people to obedience to the ‘royal law’ of Love?
For going deeper:
- spend time meditating on Matthew 28:18-20 inlight of Matthew 5-7 while praying for a ‘conversion of the heart’