My office is “my space.” If someone takes the time to look around my office they can get a snap shot of my life and what is important to me. There are the many shelves of books collected from my years in school and from inheriting the libraries of two other ministers. My collection of Lions and Lambs are prominently displayed on my window sill. All the finisher’s medals from my road races are hanging from the coat tree – which has no room for any coats. There are many pictures of my family, especially my children and there are all sorts of small gifts and trinkets that I have gathered from thirty years in ministry. One thing that hangs on the wall of my office, directly across my desk, is a small poster that contains Gandhi’s “Seven Deadly Social Sins.” These seven sins are
Politics without Principle
Wealth without Work
Commerce without Morality
Pleasure without Conscience
Education without Character
Science without Humanity
Worship without Sacrifice
Though these words are not part of the canon of Christian scripture, I wouldn’t be opposed to having a Council that consented to adding them. We could put them in between the Testaments as part of the Apocrypha. I have them displayed in my office where I do, so that when I look up from desk, the face of Gandhi, which is part of the poster, is looking right at me. I see his face. I read his words. I see the truth that is in both. Of course, Gandhi was a Hindu who said that he had a great deal of respect for Jesus but that some of his followers didn’t seem interested in following Jesus too closely. There is truth in those words as well.
As a Christian, I should be interested in truth wherever I find it. Whether it be in another religion or in the discipline of science or in the cultural norms of a different society. Truth is truth and all of it is God’s truth. For too long, much of the Christian faith has seen other religions as “a tool of the devil” and the only proper Christian response to be conversion. That should no longer be the case. Though Christ should always be our plumb line for how we understand truth, we should never think that our understanding of faith is the sole harbinger of truth. Wherever there is compassion, wherever there is care for those on the fringes of society, wherever there is concern for enhancing life then there is truth to be found. For those expressions of truth, as we understand it through Christ, we should be grateful for whoever shows it and whenever it is shown. The ways of God are not limited to those of us who call ourselves Christian. The ways of God are present wherever love and sacrifice and kindness to others is displayed.
Sometimes, I wonder if we are moving toward a day when the church and the synagogue and the mosque and the temple will no longer be symbols of different religions but symbols of the one thing for which all religions are ultimately looking for – the kingdom of God.