Ghandi and Christianity

mahatma_gandhi.jpgI’ve been thinking a lot about Ghandi since recently I watched the 1982 film based on his life.  I had heard a quote that Ghandi said intermittently throughout my Christian journey,

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

I could relate to Ghandi on many levels.  After all, I’ve had my own fair share of experiences with “Christians” that have wreaked evil in lives, in my own life.  It is an age old problem, Christ’s name being used to advance someone else’s agenda or kingdom.  After watching the film though, I had a truly deeper understanding as to why Ghandi would say this.  If you haven’t seen it, you need to!  He was a truly amazing individual who tried to bring equality and justice where there was none.  To him, who were the Christians?  It would be imperialist Britain that occupied India at the time.  These white, imperialist Britains were those who represented Christ to India at the time.  It would be these imperialist Britains who would massacre innocent Indians for following Ghandi’s teachings, which were peace and love.  I wept as I saw how Ghandi was much more of a Christ-like figure than the “Christians.” 

Beyond this, to I read a story of Ghandi’s direct encounter with a “Christian” as he tried to worship at a church.  This encounter makes the point of why Ghandi said what he said even more powerful and clear.

“Mahatma Gandhi is one of the most respected leaders of modern history. A Hindu, Ghandi nevertheless admired Jesus and often quoted from the Sermon on the Mount. Once when the missionary E. Stanley Jones met with Ghandi he asked him, “Mr. Ghandi, though you quote the words of Christ often, why is that you appear to so adamantly reject becoming his follower?”

Ghandi replied, “Oh, I don’t reject your Christ. I love your Christ. It’s just that so many of you Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

Apparently Ghandi’s rejection of Christianity grew out of an incident that happened when he was a young man practising law in South Africa. He had become attracted to the Christian faith, had studied the Bible and the teachings of Jesus, and was seriously exploring becoming a Christian. And so he decided to attend a church service. As he came up the steps of the large church where he intended to go, a white South African elder of the church barred his way at the door. “Where do you think you’re going, kaffir?” the man asked Ghandi in a belligerent tone of voice.

Ghandi replied, “I’d like to attend worship here.”

The church elder snarled at him, “There’s no room for kaffirs in this church. Get out of here or I’ll have my assistants throw you down the steps.”

From that moment, Ghandi said, he decided to adopt what good he found in Christianity, but would never again consider becoming a Christian if it meant being part of the church.”

I have found this is how it often is though.  People respect Jesus but just don’t get the people who claim to follow Him.  After all, Jesus stood for many things, but He did NOT stand for murder or evil.  It is often a distortion of the true Christian faith that turns people away.  I have several friends who used to claim to be Christians who now turn to agnosticism or secularism because of baggage of a different kind, but baggage they carry because of a distortion and abuse of “Christianity.”  I think this is most often the case.  Few people outright reject Christ that I know, that is deep down.  It is often the baggage of “Christianity” that paralyzes them from accepting this true faith.

So when I hear of atrocities done in the name of Christ, I humble myself.  Even though I haven’t directly committed them, I ask for forgiveness on behalf of those who distorted the true Christ.  I wish someone could have done this for Ghandi.  Maybe he might have met a true Christian and been able to see the true Christ, that Christ he knew was there.

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3 Responses

  1. That is an interesting quote. I have a good friend who is a “Christian”, but prefers not to use that word. She once told me that she feels like Christians give Christ a bad name. I can see her point, but to take Christ out of the name doesn’t make sense either.

    I pray that as a Christian I may show love to her and to others. For by loving others, we may show the love of Christ. “Whatever you do to the least of these my brethren, you have done it to me.”

  2. i so love this post… your thoughts… the quote!

    hello! i found through another blog (wish i could recall).

    isn’t sad that the view of Jesus Christ is so skewed by human kind. i know for me (sinful me)… i have seen so many turn a shoulder to the idea of “Christianity” for the very picture that is painted by some. it is a battle we face.
    i say this not knowing about Ghandi… but i am certain Jesus would have opened up his arms for him.
    i know that the “relationship” with God is more important than “Christianity” or any church service.

    blessings to you!

  3. I like the redesign…when are you going to post again???

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