By His Grace: The face of Christianity
One evening, I was drawn to a TBN Easter special of the late Rev. Billy Graham's crusade. Sensing I would be enlightened by the simplicity of his teaching, I settled in for the half-hour message. Rev. Graham shared an incident long ago involving the respected and world-renowned spiritual Hindu leader, the late Mahatma Gandhi, that caused my heart to be troubled and required self-examination over what it truly means to be a Christian.
Allow me to share.
These are excerpts of the incident as noted in the April 17, 2015, edition, with permission from the Kansas City Star: "One Sunday morning Gandhi decided that he would visit one of the Christian churches in Calcutta. Upon seeking entrance to the church sanctuary, he was stopped at the door by the ushers.
"He was told he was not welcome, nor would he be permitted to attend this particular church as it was for high-caste Indians and whites only. He was neither high caste, nor was he white. Because of the rejection, the Mahatma turned his back on Christianity.
"With this act, Gandhi rejected the Christian faith, never again to consider the claims of Christ. He was turned off by the sin of segregation that was practiced by the church. It was due to this experience that Gandhi later declared, 'I'd be a Christian if it were not for the Christians.'"
At the conclusion of the crusade, what came to mind was this passage: "Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother."
There are three questions that should be carefully examined within us when associating ourselves with true Christianity. The most important above all is who we are representing before man.
"So we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His appeal through us; we (as Christ's representatives) plead with you on behalf of Christ to be reconciled to God."
It is an offense before God to say you are a Christian and treat your brothers and sisters in contempt. We are instructed to walk in humility and in gentleness and patience and in peace.
You may ask why I say true before Christianity. Because there is a difference. Where one requires nothing, the other requires much.
Ask yourself what the face of Christianity looks like?
Many would say that we should try to be good people and attend church regularly. And others would associate the title with a religion and not necessarily with a personal relationship. There is so much more that governs the word Christianity. It begins with a person's belief in the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As followers of Christ, you and I accept and surrender through daily practice all that is written and taught by him. There is no compromise.
"Follow God's example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."
Do you follow the footsteps of Christ?
To follow in the steps of Christ requires you and me to give from a place of sacrifice. Convenience has no say when following in the footsteps of Christ. This would mean to go out of your way to help a neighbor or stranger. When passing someone who may be homeless or down on their luck, an encouraging word along with a helping hand of food, drink or prayer can make all the difference of life and death (spiritually).
"Then Peter said, 'Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.'"
Our sincere acts of kindness allow others to meet Jesus, perhaps for the first time face-to-face. When you and I love like Christ, it has the power to draw others unto him. He is the fixer of all things and if allowed, a life-game-changer for here and eternity.
Do you love your neighbors as yourself? It is often said by many, "I love everyone." I beg to differ. It has been proven that when our vertical relationship with Christ is not fully established, there is certain to be a stumbling block (discrimination of all sorts) which results in a horizontal relationship with man. Your relationship with others is a witness to another who may be watching.
"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
Imagine what impact Gandhi would have had on the world if only he was received in the true measure of godly love we as Christians claim to represent. Millions of lives would have changed. His followers would have turned for salvation and come to the Lord. Now we will never know. And sadly his relationship with Christ is forever gone.
Brothers and sisters, we are to live our lives for Christ, emulating all his standards for mankind. And at all cost, we are to represent God in the manner that brings him glory and honor. Be sincere in your love walk with others. As ambassadors of Christ, we will be held accountable for our actions, if not here than in heaven.
"But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned."
"So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God."
Do not be found guilty.
Enjoy a wonderful and marvelous weekend.
Until next week, be blessed and continue to bless others along the way. Go in peace.
(Bible references: Romans 14:13, ESV; 2 Corinthians 5:20, AMP; Ephesians 5:1-2 NIV; Ephesians 4:1-3; Acts 3:6 NIV; Romans 5:8; Matthew 12:36-37; Romans 14:12. To obtain the full benefits of each verse, please read the five verses before and after each verse.)
Contributing Writer Edith Nevis can be reached at 985-857-2200 or at email@example.com. She just hit a four-year mark for her column and would like to hear from you if her messages have encouraged you in any way, so she may share your experiences.