I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” -Mahatma Gandhi
This quote, at one time, greatly offended me. It seemed like a bash against Christians and made me think,
Even though Gandhi did alot of nice things, he sure is going to Hell!
But as time goes by, Ive come to greatly identify with the statement. And ive begun to understand why many people can find the person of Christ so compelling...while finding the religion that bears His name and His followers quite distasteful.
I suppose in one way Ive never quite felt like I "fit in" with the Christian community even from my early days of being a believer. Yet even long before I came into the belief of universalism, I've felt less and less like I can relate to other Christians. We (apparently) serve the same God, believe Jesus is the way of Salvation, hold to the Bible as truth...yet when I go to church or talk to other Christians I feel more frustrated and suffocated, than I do encouraged. I feel like were on two different wave lengths when in theory, were supposed to be on the same one.
As to any one reason why I feel like this, I suppose there isnt just one in particular. If I were to rattle off every reason why I'm not crazy about Christians in general, I'd be here all night writing this thing. But I will say its not really a "all Christians are hypocrites!" mentality that Im dealing with. There are many wonderful Christians I know trying to serve the Lord and really do love Him and other people. I dont doubt the good intentions of many Christians I know (whether I agree with their methods or not).
I think what it really comes down to though, is the fact that Jesus, and the beauty of Gods love, stretches so far beyond the concrete walls of church, our religious rituals and our padded Christian subculture. I've come to a point where none of that is very appealing or edifying to me...because God and His love are not confined to that system. That system of rules and organization has been too often equated with having a passion for God. For example, if you dont go to church regularly, or involve yourself with church activities, or listen to Christian music, or hold the same beliefs as other Christians...you're love of God comes into question. Ive become disillusioned with the system of Christianity we have made for ourselves, and that has caused some people to be concerned about me. Nevermind the fact that now I feel freer and more able to love and seek God, I dont believe and do the same things other Christians do! So that seems to put me on some sort of mental prayer list.
Its so backwards to me...Christians seem to be more concerned with people subscribing to their brand of faith than they are with people seeking God. They wouldnt say that, but that is what Ive seen, especially now that my beliefs dont identify with the typical religious crowd.
But when I remind myself that Jesus himself never identified with the typical religious crowd, I realize that Im probably on the right track. All throughout the gospels it seems that Jesus is pitted AGAINST the religious people and their laws. Jesus would acknowledge scripture and their laws, but he would always show how a love for God and for others far out rooted the rules and rituals of religion. Jesus was a dangerous adversary to the rich religious crowd and to their power...which ultimately got him plotted against and killed. And that is probably why Gandhi liked Christ and not so much the Christians. He saw in the character of Christ a loving person that was beyond religion and was willing to love and show people truth regardless of their sins or social status. Yet when Gandhi saw the Christians, he saw people overly concerned with everything BUT loving people more often than not.
With all that said, I think its time for me to put more time and energy in seeking and loving God, and helping me express his undying love for others.... rather than pleasing other Christians by subscribing to their doctrines and practices.