Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Gandhi on Preaching the Gospel

Question (Missionary): What is the most effective way of preaching the Gospel of Christ?

Gandhi: To live the gospel is the most effective way most effective in the beginning, in the middle and in the end. Preaching jars on me and makes no appeal to me, and I get suspicious of missionaries who preach. But I love those who never preach but live the life according to their lights. Their lives are silent yet most effective testimonies. Therefore I cannot say what to preach, but I can say that a life of service and uttermost simplicity is the best preaching. If, therefore, you go on serving people and ask them also to serve, they would understand. But you quote instead John 3:16 and ask them to believe it. That has no appeal to me, and I am sure people will not understand it. Where there has been acceptance of the gospel through preaching, my complaint is that there has been some motive.

(Q) But we also see it and we try our best to guard against it.

G: But you can’t guard against it. One sordid motive vitiates the whole preaching. It is like a drop of poison which fouls the whole food. Therefore I should do without any preaching at all. A rose does not need to preach. It simply spreads its fragrance. The fragrance is its own sermon. If it had human understanding and if it could engage a number of preachers, the preachers would not be able to sell more roses than the fragrance itself could do. The fragrance of religious and spritual life is much finer and subtler than than of the rose.


Dan Price said...

But Romans 10 says...
"WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED." 14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom R510 they have not heard? And how will they hear without a R511 preacher? 15 How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, "HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!"

I would also say that living a sacrificial, simplistic life is part of the the Bible "preaches." You could even include Gandhi's answers as a sort of preaching.

Trev Diesel said...

Regarding your second paragraph: True, spiritual teaching (including what Gandhi often did) could possibly be considered preaching.

The problem lies in the form of Christianity (and many other faiths and practices) that is concerned simply with talking about God and not living out the reality of God (which, in my experience, is quite frequent). What Gandhi is saying here stems from seeing many, many missionaries come into his country and "preaching the gospel" by telling people they need to "be saved" but not living lives that are consistent with the teachings of Jesus. He's saying: Don't talk about it, live it.

And it is not only those outside of the Christian faith proclaiming these truths, either. Remember St. Francis said "Preach the gospel at all times and when necessary use words."

Dan Price said...

right on. preaching with out a life devoted to being sacrificial is worse than not preaching at all.

Meredith said...

Thank you for this excerpt from a conversation with Gandhi. He was such a great teacher - and mostly by the way he lived his life, which exemplified his values.

Let our lives speak.

Larry said...

There is preaching and there is preaching. After preaching for many years it came to me that the only effectual preaching is confessional preaching.

Miss Wired said...

Preaching has unfortunately turned into marketing and advertising.

isaiah said...

Larry said...
"There is preaching and there is preaching."

There is seldom, heartfelt empathy between the preacher and the "preachee". It is almost always assumed that the preacher knows...and those listening...need to learn. My favorite way of learning is to hear someone's story...and what has happened to them. "Tell me what you have learned so I may learn- and show me through your actions...not your words."

Words- are all we have here in this forum. So, tell me of what you have learned...and are learning and I will do the same.

I offer this humble view- I believe in this very moment, wherever one may be, one is as close to God as being God-no further, and one can never think or do anything perilous to this relationship. In the end, when we discover the beginning... we are the cradler and the cradled.

"To live the gospel [“love God with all your being”, “do unto others”, and "seek first the kingdom of God (which is in you)] " is the most effective way, most effective in the beginning, in the middle and in the end.