Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Ghandi and the Beatitudes

Anonymous said...

I give you, the beatitudes.

* Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Verse 3)
* Blessed are the meek: for they shall posses the land. (Verse 4)
* Blessed are they who mourn: for they shall be comforted. (Verse 5)
* Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill. (Verse 6)
* Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. (Verse 7)
* Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God. (Verse 8)
* Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. (Verse 9)
* Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Verse 10)

Straight out of the Lord and Master's mouth (Jesus). The question therefore. Is Ghandi in Hell? He certainly qualifies to be blessed, running the tables in the beatitudes (8 for 8, better than me!) And if he doesn't have a CHANCE! What chance do I have?

I cannot tell you where Ghandi is now. He always professed a love for the things Jesus Christ taught, and even for the Lord Jesus himself, but Ghandi remained a professed Hindu until his unfortunate assassination. To answer that question for him, and for you, and what chance you have, let's look at the rest of the Bible:

Jesus did not only preach the beatitudes, but He also said "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me." This indicates that our eternity with God is decided in our relationship to Jesus Christ.
When we look to rest of the New Testament, we also see that 'All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God' (Romans 3:23) and that 'The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.' (Romans 6:23). Again, it is our response to the Lord Jesus Christ that accesses this gift. What must our response be? From Peter, who walked with Christ: 'Repent' (Acts 2:38), from Paul: 'Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved' (Romans 10:9).

From the Lord Jesus Christ Himself: 'Except a man be born again, he will not see the kingdom of God' (John 3:3) and 'That everyone who believes in Him (the only begotten Son, Jesus) shall not perish but have everlasting life' (John 3:16).

We see from this that, based on the teaching of Jesus Christ Himself, and of those who were His followers, that one's righteousness in life is not what sends you to hell or to heaven, but rather a faith in Jesus Christ. You ask what chance you have, your chance, alone, is impossible. Imagine learning of a disaster that all of North and South America will sink into the ocean in 6 weeks. Now, since this is an illustration, let's add that the governments decide that anyone who wants to be saved must swim to safety. You spend 6 weeks training, preparing, and eating right to swim it. Your neighbor spends 6 weeks on the couch eating Twinkies. Which of you will be saved? Neither. The distance is too great. This is like taking it upon yourself to reach heaven. Some people, such as Ghandi, strove for such excellence in life, while others did not bother. Ultimately, neither would make it alone. It will take someone tossing a lifeline, someone bridging the gap. That someone is the Lord Jesus Christ! If you will accept His offer of grace, you will be saved. Then, your life should be a reflection of His love.

No discussion of Ghandi would be complete without noting that one reason he did not accept Christianity as his religion was because of the hypocrisy of Christians. Those of us who are believers must work to truly reflect our Savior, but let us realize that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am the chief (1 Timothy 1:15) is still a trustworthy statement, and that, rather than reject grace because you see that the church is filled with people who need it, recognize that you will not be alone! The church is not made of people who are perfect, but imperfect people serving a perfect God.

On an additonal note- (sorry for the long blog post. Good questions deserve the best answer I can give. I pray God uses even my feeble attempts for His glory)--I'm curious as to your source translation in verses 6 & 10, using 'justice' for the Greek word dikaiosune (no Greek font on blogger). This word is typically translated as 'righteousness' and, based on most of the usage in Scripture, has to more to do with living in relation to God's standards than to justice among people. As you factor whether someone is '8 for 8' this becomes an important characteristic--are we talking hunger and thirst for justice among humanity, or hunger and thirst for a right relationship with God?
Additionally, the Beatitudes are not God's only list of behavior and attitude expectations. I'd read Exodus 20 for the 10 Commandments and see if one is 10 for 10 on those. In fact, that's how Jesus dealt with at least one man who came to Him, asking to be saved:

The Rich Young Ruler

16 And someone came to Him and said, "Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?" 17 And He said to him, "Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments." 18 Then he said* to Him, "Which ones?" And Jesus said, "YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER; YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY; YOU SHALL NOT STEAL; YOU SHALL NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS; 19 HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER; and YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF." 20 The young man said* to Him, "All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?" 21 Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be complete , go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." 22 But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.
23 And Jesus said to His disciples, "Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 "Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." 25 When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, "Then who can be saved?" 26 And looking at them Jesus said to them, "With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

Matt 19:16-26 (NASB)

Jesus first has the man to compare himself to the Commandments, and then tests his obedience to those commandments by telling him to give up his stuff. In his refusal, we see that the man has violated the first of the Commandments, because he has other gods before the One, True God. It wasn't just about giving to the poor, but about obey God and valuing God above stuff. True, many people don't have stuff, but are they focused on the One, True God?

There in lies my first response to your question. If you have follow-up questions, post away! I'd be happy to see your response.



  1. A good answer, but allow me this response. What is the nature of sin? Is not sin separation from the Deity? Sin is what separates us from having a relationship with Lord Jesus? Now, since I think that this is hard to argue against, follow me. From this, is not what is sinful to one person, might not sinful to another?

    {Now, this is of course OUTSIDE the Ten Commandments plus one (Love your neighbor) We can pretty much assume that murder is a universal no-no.}

    I can go out, or stay in, and have a beer, or two, or six, and in the next day, or week, or month(s) or ever, never drink another beer. I have a friend that absolutely can never ever have one more drop of alcohol (sober for several years now) because if he does, he will not be able to stop. Is drinking therefore a sin for him but not for me?

    And we can apply this to any one of a list of vices, from gambling, to video games, to even being a work-a-holic, if it interferes with your relationship with Jesus.

    Does this now not make sin subjective rather than objective (what is sin for me is not necessarily sinful to you?) Let me stop here and gauge your response, because you might answer the follow-up in your response.

    For the record I have a personal relationship with Jesus, I will still take ALL the prayers I can get though! We must open ourselves to questions of our faith, as only fire tempers steel to strengthen and mold it to become a sword.

  2. (in this response, please forgive some of the capitalized words. Blogger's not happy with my attempts to ITALICIZE!)

    Very good follow-up. Consider this response:

    Sin is the cause of separation, not the separation itself. When one has a highly contagious disease and is placed in isolation, we do not call the disease isolation, but the cause. So it is with sin.

    Sin is not subjective, because God's holiness is not subjective, and sin is our failure to match this holiness.

    To support this, look to the Old Testament, and read Judges 20:16---'each one could sling a stone at a hair not MISS.'

    Then look through Exodus 20, and note verse 20, where Moses says that God has come to test, 'in order that you may not SIN.'

    What we miss in English is that the Hebrew words for MISS and SIN are the same. It transliterates roughly as hata, but that doesn't really do justice to the language. In Greek, both words are translated harmartia, which is also used in the NT for sin.

    So sin is 'missing' God's perfection, or failing to hit a target is to 'sin' against it. It is not a subjective test, but rather a comparison to a perfect standard. Just as when you build a house, you do not compare each wall to the other, but instead each wall to being exactly right.

    Let's simplify out of the Ten Commandments, and get down to the Two Greatest: 37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
    Matt 22:37-40 (NLT)

    With your beer/no beer, or with any vice, the questions to be answered are two fold: Does this reflect loving the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, and mind? And am I showing love for my neighbor?

    If sin were truly subjective, we could argue that, for you, drinking the beer is not sinful, for your friend it is, but should you decide to drink in his presence, you're not showing love, so now it is for you?

    Instead, compare your own behavior with God's standard: Does your beer or gambling or work-a-holicness or gluttony reflect a love for God, that He is the first priority in all aspects of your life? Without exception? Is it loving God with your mind to allow alcohol to affect your behavior? Not just by consumption, but by purchase or association? What of other vices? How can we Christians buy $300 Wii's and X-boxes when people go to bed hungry? Does this reflect that God is first in our lives? Or our own consumptions?

    The same is true of the command to 'love your neighbor as yourself.' Jesus taught us by word and example that love is shown in sacrifice, sacrifice of our desires, our wants, our lives.

    Your comment that anything that interferes with your relationship with Jesus is sin is quite true, as shown in the Greatest Commandment, that love for Him must come before anything else. It's still an objective standard.

    You are right in what it takes to sharpen us...I've just read again one of my favorite novels, The Walking Drum, by Louis L'Amour. It concludes with that statement, that men must be sharpened by men (or people by people...men and women can help each other).

    The Proverbs put it even better:
    17 Iron sharpens iron,
    So one man sharpens another.
    Prov 27:17 (NASB).

    As far as your personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, if you wouldn't take all the prayers you can get, then I would doubt you had one. No one but a believer better recognizes their own need for prayer. Realize that in an open forum like this, I will try and draw out the Gospel of Grace in many answers, in hopes that some reader may start that same relationship.


To deal with SPAM comments, all comments are moderated. I'm typically willing to post contrary views...but I also only check the list once a day, so if you posted within the last 24 hours, I may not be to it yet.

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