It has given me great sadness to know an experience lived by Mahatma Gandhi, which has caused me deep reflection. Gandhi read in his youth Bible and, like me, the Sermon on the Mount attracted his attention. Gandhi firmly believed that knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ could be a hope for his country. Why, then, did he not convert to Christianity and remain a Hindu? The answer should be a wake-up call for all Christian teachers and leaders. Gandhi's experience is as follows:
Why was Gandhi not a Christian? He remained Hindu until the end. He worshiped Christ as one of the incarnations of God, not the only one. He never took the final step to become a Christian. In an autobiography that was published in India, he says that in his student days he was very impressed to read the Gospels, and that he seriously thought about being baptized and being a member of a Christian church. I thought that in Christianity there was a solution to the racial prejudices and caste differences that affect India and South Africa. One Sunday morning, Gandhi went to a nearby Christian church, and had the purpose of speaking with the pastor at the end of the service. When he entered the temple, the reception commission refused to provide him a seat, and suggested that he go to a black church. Gandhi left that temple to never return. "If Christians also have class differences," he thought, "I will remain a Hindu, and from there I will attack evil." - CC Wychoff. Alfred Lerın, 500 illustrations, (El Paso, TX: Baptist Publishing House, 2000), 241.
Although I know that racism is no longer common in our congregations, the issue of making differences remains valid. Surely, the welcoming committee that received Gandhi did not know what was being lost by neglecting only one person. It is easy for some people to go unnoticed in our groups, classes and neighborhoods, since it requires an effort to purge the lists, follow them up and pay attention. In that sense, this reflection has repercussions for missionary work and affects all aspects of teaching.
- As members: do we know how to make our researchers and new converts welcome?
- As leaders: do we make differences to some extent?
- As teachers: do we listen to everyone, know our sheep, feel their needs? Or do we have our eyes fixed on the manual, are we too concerned about "giving a class" and lose sight of the one who feels isolated, the one who does not participate and the one who is new to our group?
Maybe you can find more dimensions.
14 You are the light of the world; a city set on a hill can not be hidden.
15 Neither lights a candle and puts it under a almudbut on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.
16 So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
(New Testament, Matthew 5: 14-16 • NT, p.1510)
The following lessons from the manual "Teach the way of the Savior", prepared by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they can help us to correct this problem and be more receptive to us. I wish it had been the reading of the welcome committee that received Gandhi!