There are many parts of the Christian Body. Some are hands, some are ears, and some are hearts. There are facilitators and conciliators, comforters and encouragers. It takes all kinds to make a complete Body of Christ here on earth. Each of us has a part in that complete Body, and no part is of greater value than the other. The caring commoner in the congregation is just as vital to the ministry of the Body as the minister who preaches the Word, and no one in the awesome majesty of God can boast that he or she is greater, for all are one in the sight of Christ.

Of all the gifts that God has given to me, that of encourager and teacher, giver and helper, none is more onerous and difficult than that of confronter. I could earnestly wish that He hadn’t. But as I look at my life and the things that Christ has given me a passion for, I am forced to admit that a passion for His Word, and a desire to see its truth glorified in the marketplace of ideas drives many of my conversations.

I had one of those conversations this week. After the first day of teaching, we invited the participants to talk to us, to bring to us their questions and have a conversation with us. A few took us up on the offer, and I and one of them fell to discussing the differences between the Christ of God and the Buddha. “The Buddha had no intention of starting a religion, he began, he merely wanted to tell us how to live so that we would be happy.”

“I find it strange,” I began, “that one who wanted to teach us how to be happy would begin his four noble truths with the statement that all of life is suffering.” “Ah yes, the questioner said,” but Buddha showed us how to escape that suffering and be happy.” “I don’t find that to be true,” I continued. “Buddha said that all suffering came from desire. And yet I have greatly desired that my children grow up to be good and learn to be kind to others so that they will be a blessing to all whom they meet. How can Buddha call such a desire a bad thing?”

“I have asked many monks the same thing,” he replied, “and have received no satisfactory answer. Buddha himself desired to do good by teaching others, how can that be a bad desire? This has often troubled me.” “Tell me another thing,” I said, “Buddha taught that we must be reincarnated and live again in order to pay off the load of debt for our wrong doings, a load of debt he called karma. But Buddha taught that I am always adding to my load of wrong. I kill and eat animals for food, for example. And therefore every time I am reincarnated, I am adding to my load of debt for wrong. How can I escape this karma?”

“I do not know,” he admitted. “Buddha himself offered a solution toward the end of his life,” I told him. “It is contained in his teachings. He said that only a Saviour could pay the debt load of sin. Were you aware of that teaching?” “I am not a practicing Buddhist,” he confessed. “I am only a Buddhist because my parents and grandparents were Buddhists. I no longer know what I believe.”

I said I believed that Buddha was right. That only One can pay for my karma, my debt load of wrong; a Saviour. I believe this Saviour has paid the price for my wrong doings. I believe I am forgiven because He paid for those wrongs. I have been freed from my karma and I feel liberated and have a great joy in my heart. I want to serve this Saviour with all of my strength because He has forgive a debt of wrong I could never repay. Serving Him has filled my life with purpose and joy.

He looked at me in a mixture of doubt and resentment. I had touched a chord, a sore spot in his life, and he knew that I had done so. There was an awkward silence that was quickly filled by others seeking to change the topic to something safer. Later these same people rebuked me for being confrontational, for making another feel uncomfortable. They are right. I did make him feel uncomfortable. But here is my question to all of you who think that confrontation is never good. Would you be happier if this nominal Buddhist was never uncomfortable? Would be you happier if he went to his grave comfortable in his confusion and disbelief? Would his eternal destiny be more comfortable if he died in his sins?

This not an easy ministry. Those who are comforters are themselves comforted. Those who are encouragers are themselves encouraged. Those who confront others with the truth of the gospel of Christ are often rebuked and confronted by others. It grieves my poor heart that this should be so. I have a sensitive spirit, and am easily overcome and discouraged by the unkindness of others. I ask only what others in the body of Christ ask; that you would understand that I seek only His glory and desire to serve only His purpose. That you would be gentler in your rebuke and more understanding of God’s greater purpose in all our lives as we fulfil our part in His Body on earth. Some are called to speak the truth. I always try to do it in love, but I cannot fail to speak, for then I would be unfaithful to how the Lord is leading me.

Advertisements