Friday, November 20, 2009

Food For Thought (Re-Post)

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 practicing 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.

Over the years I have had many conversations with people who claim to be Christian "backsliders" or non-believers or atheists, and nearly every time I hear their personal histories, I discover a story similar, or in some way relatable to this one in their past. It seems to me that when damage is done to the horizontal in spiritual relationships, it always affects the vertical. I've never met anyone who just decided to be an atheist for no reason...the disconnect in every case seems to be more about people-experience than about God-expereince.

Do you know of any situations like the Ghandi story? Did something like that ever happen to you, and, if so, how did it affect you? How did you get past it?

Consider these quotes and this passage and tell me what you think.


"I am not sure exactly what Heaven will be like. But I don't know that when we die and if comes the time for God to judge us, He will not ask, "How many good things have you done in your life?" Rather He will ask, "How much love did you put into what you did?"
- Mother Teresa



"Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man's sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love."
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.



"So this is what I need to leave with you - these are my last words to you - what I want, more than anything, for you to remember. I have given you many instructions and insights during our time together, but here is the new commandment, the new order, the thing that is superior to every other thing, in a word: LOVE ONE ANOTHER. In the way that I have loved you, so you must love one another. Do you understand? You see, this is the only way that people will know that you are My disciples. Your love for one another is the solitary thing that will validate My message in the long run - not the miracles, not the signs and wonders, not the teaching - but your unconditional love for each other. It is not optional." (John 13:34, 35 - JITN)

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Cherie Alexandra Johnson said...


Wow, that was so timely. The Mother Theresa quote is especially reasonating. TYVM!

Karl said...

Heeerrre Turkey, Turkey! Here, boy!
Ya know that kid has got other plans, luring him with that wheat...I bet something is hidden in that basket. (teehee)

It's going to be an awesome weekend for you bishop, not to mention your Thanksgiving and Cathedral reunion.
That' right, harvest of plennnty!

SCRIBE said...

Demonstrating LOVE, kindness, and graciousness are key elements in extending respect and honor unto others; to esteem and value another person as much as we would desire to be done unto us not only heals hearts, but has the ability to bring about renewal and self-worth to a fellow brother of sister.

What I have found also, is that most people do not have an issue with GOD Himself, but have been used, misused, and abused by His so-called representatives in the earth. Even as a child, having grown up in Southern Baptist church in Louisiana, I absolutely HATED church, religion, etc. yet I only went because my mother made me go. In Southern Baptist church, the least thing a kid did from sneezing to laughing or not wanting to stay awake in service, the elders and ushers would tell us that we were going to die and go to hell for "acting up" in church. What a drag that was... and I simply thought, hey, if God is anything like these people, I believe that I'd rather do without Him. It was all pure legalisms, "religiosity" in the worst way. Yet now that I am adult and I understand so much more, I can look back on it and laugh sometimes and other times just sigh and shake my head, knowing that they simply DID NOT know any better... stuck in traditions without a basis and foundation of the REAL GOD, REAL TRUTH, and TRUE REVELATION KNOWLEDGE. I saw bizarre antics that were better suited for Vaudeville and the Broadway stages than anything else. I often wondered how as soon as they "got excited / got touched / got a move from God, they'd jump up and down, seeming to shout in fits of rage, going to grab the pastor while he was preaching because to them the word was that good / moving (ha ha), passing out in the Holy Ghost, only for the ushers to gather around the person with the funeral fans fanning them tirelessly, another usher would tap them on each cheek as if they were unconscious, and still another would pull out the smelling salts from their huge purse and put it underneath the nose of the person until they 'came to' and was somewhat lucid and awake again. WOW! the same stuff week after week, month after month. I HATED IT, HATED IT! Then after the services were over, everyone would stand around and talk for a bit, and there would always be a group of ladies on the church yard talking trash about some other sisters in the church about what who was wearing, whose husband so and so was running around with and how sister so and so didn't need to be singing in the choir when she knew how she was living during the week... And needless to say, these gossiping hens were choir members, ushers, greeters, etc. And after leaving the church, my mom's family would gather together at my great aunt's house for dinners, cookouts etc. with coolers full of beer, smoking cigarettes, gambling in card games, talking trash, etc. I would think to myself--- "Are these the folks that just left church claiming they had the victory and yet here they are Cursing, Clowning, and Carrying On... there is something truly disturbing and terribly wrong with this picture! They claimed at church they "had the Victory",, but in my mind, what was the victory, what did they have the victory over? No transformation, no change, just the same old stuff month after month.

SCRIBE said...

It was all too disgusting to a deep-thinking weird little kid like me, whom everyone said I was an "Old Soul" and had obviously been here before.... I even challenged a couple of my mom's cousins and a few great aunts one day at church when I was about 5 years old. They were doing their usual thing, talking trash about others, then asked me about my dad and I told them my dad was at home and he was doing well. They said, "Your Dad don't come to church so he's going to die and go to hell." I told them that my dad said if God was over here in the midst of that craziness that they called religion, then he'd just take his chances on going to hell because he didn't want any part of it. They then said, you're a little smart ass, you are going to bust hell wide open, and I told them then it might be a better place for me because at least they wouldn't be there to bother me and I'd be with my dad who was a much better person than they were, and if they kept on talking badly about sisters so and so, they might find themselves being with the devil instead of being with their God in heaven. Hypocrisy at its finest from those who were supposed to be raising up the youth and setting an example in the way that we SHOULD GO. I'm thankful that I had sense enough to run for the border and GO in the WAY THAT I FELT WAS RIGHT FOR ME, regardless of the backlash.
It seems that I was discerning spirits at an early age and telling the truth to shame the devil, even though I was told that I was hell bound. Out of the mouth of Babes... Challenging the system, shooting holes in false doctrines, confounding the "worldly wise"! (Ha Ha)


I told my dad that I'd rather stay at home with him on Sundays and watch the Roller Derby on TV than to go deal with those crazy people at church. He agreed, talked with my Mom and although she didn't like it, she said, she's only going to curl up on the bench and go to sleep anyway, so she may as well stay at home with you. HALLELUJAH! that was sheer deliverance for me for a few years... my great escape from "Southern Baptist-Ville"... a reprieve of sorts and peace for me to just be at home with my dad instead of being gone from 10 AM on Sundays and not getting back home until around 4 PM, that is if we didn't dragged to another church after our church. Praise GOD! that I KNOW WHO HE IS for myself and walk in intimate relationship with him, unbiased and untarnished by religiosity and bad press. Freedom and Liberty through Relationship with Him and IN HIM. In Him I move, I breathe, and have my being! Amen... What an AWESOME, Mighty GOD we serve!

Happy Thanksgiving to All....

Avatar said...

I have not been turned away from the door of a church like Gandhi was but I do know the rejection that can come from trying to share a personal God with people who do not know Him in the same way...to be rejected for asking questions...and living what I believed. I was told a lot that I had no idea who God is or how He operates--often with condescending smiles and distancing behavior. Except for the fact that I know my journey was His orchestration all along, it would be easy to say I would have preferred a physical closed door instead of the emotional and relational ones that I was shown.

The effect? In my younger days, I put God on the backburner...but as I was coming back, it was isolating. I learned to keep my stories to myself and for a time "learned the language" and tried to know this God that others taught about. Which meant I walked in religion, was judgmental and scared of failing to please Him.

How did I overcome it? Walking through the lengthy Spirit-planned-and-timed wilderness but the greatest growth came from listening/re-listening to and reading everything that Bishop Swilley put before me.

I can now say, with unchallengeable certainty, that He was guiding every step and though I still don't share many of the specifics with lots of people, I do share more here at CITN...and I know that I do know a lot about Him...and it truly was Him all along.

Thoughts on quotes and JITN: I like both MLK's "Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love." as well as JITN's "Your love for one another is the solitary thing that will validate My message in the long run...your unconditional love for each other. It is not optional."

Love does desire growth...but it must be a Love-desire and not a command, or a manipulation...and THAT love, built within the unconditional framework of "it's your walk" that will change the world.

Avatar said...

BTW...nice playlist...all the thanks is peace-generating, and my ears especially perk up at the Hymns on Guitar (We Gather Together). Thank you, Bishop.

Bishop Jim Swilley said...

You're welcome, Cherie...

Bishop Jim Swilley said...

Thanks Karl...I changed the pic...the one you're referring to was a vintage postcard...the little girl reminded me of Sofia...

I receive it about my weekend...

Same to you...

Bishop Jim Swilley said...

You're a very good (and prolific)writer, Scribe...thanks...

Bishop Jim Swilley said...

Good stuff, Avatar...thanks for your faithfulness to the blog...Twitter put a dent in it, and Facebook has nearly finished it off...glad you're still contributing (you too, Karl and Scribe)...

Bishop Jim Swilley said...

...and I'm glad you're enjoying the Playlist...Christmas music in a few days...where does the time go?

Anonymous said...

Donald Earl Paulk said...

Good stuff! was reading E. Stanley Jones 1928 - "Christ at the Round Table" tonight.

Avatar said...

Interesting that you mentioned the ten lepers on Sunday, Bishop. I was overcome by events and unable to post the thoughts, but I had been pondering your dent/finishing off statement and kept thinking of the lepers...

Thinking that, being healed, some of the nine are now ABLE to join FB and "show their faces"--I'm glad and from what I hear, its a cool community. Which brings me to part of why its important to me to keep coming to THIS well. I sense the other lepers that are here and also the Arimathians who secretly meet with Joseph and Nicodemas and the Samaritans and others who only come to draw water when they won't run into anyone else...as well as those who can only make it as far as this well.

I sense their pots, filling with water and I know they will be turned to wine...so I come...and I love it.