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Gandhi Was Wrong

April 25, 2011

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Mohandas Gandhi

Something like this statement is frequently used to reject the Christian faith, and to be fair there is truth in it, Christians – in so many ways – are “unlike” our Christ. For two millenia there is no lack of example of Christians behaving badly. But there are two significant things to notice in Gandhi’s statement (which in many ways reflects popular opinion); first – the character of Christ is held to be of the highest order, and second is the tragic misunderstanding of the nature of the Christian faith itself.

Besides Jesus’ first century religious opponents one would be hard pressed to find a philosopher, social critic, politician, or common man who would impeach Christ’s character. Whatever they may believe about his identity, his character and teachings are held to be of supreme worth and power. Against the backdrop of a tragic human ethic, Christ stands brilliantly in the foreground, the light of his ethic have inspired billions of people to higher living. He is a righteous man – a holy man, and us regular human beings have elevated our holy men to the status of divine. We do this primarily because holiness is distinctly divine and other, so unlike us.

This is precisely the scandal of the Christian faith and the tragic blindness of Gandhi. How could such a holy man keep company with a band of all-around misfits? Most holy men tend to collect other holy men (or aspiring holy men) in their company. But this Jesus, the unimpeachably good man, dines with sinners and tax collectors.

Therefore I do not give much weight to the world’s accusation that there is something wrong with Christianity because of Christians and not because of Christ. The world cannot seem to imagine that Christ would make his home with a community of sinners, of wretched men and women. He has always kept company with the likes of us and this is indeed scandalous. The world would much prefer a Christ in company with monks in habit diligently praying the hours (as good as that is). And yet Christ continues to call into his fellowship men of mean spirit, women of loose conviction – and he calls them “brother” and “sister.” The world has no place for grace.

“For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.”
(Titus 3:3-5 ESV)

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 25, 2011 7:40 pm

    it is so true. no one can dispute that Christ was a good man, teacher, friend. He walked among us, sinners and all. well said.

  2. Nate Paschall permalink
    May 18, 2011 6:38 pm

    Makes total sense – I guess that’s the essence of self-righteousness, too good for other people. Sounds like Ghandi didn’t have enough grace for Christians sinners who need it, and plenty of grace for the perfect Messiah who needed none.

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