He has redeemed my soul from going down into the pit, and my life shall look upon the light. Job 33:28
During the course of these Daily Devotions I've never told you a story about Mahatma Gandhi.
That may be because although Gandhi is considered to be the father of his country, India, and he is revered for his commitment to nonviolence, he wasn't much of a Christian. In fact, he wasn't a Christian at all.
But ... in his autobiography, Gandhi admits there was a time when he was truly interested in the Bible. Deeply touched by the Savior's work and the message of the Gospels, Gandhi seriously considered becoming a Christian.
In large part he was motivated by his belief that Christianity offered a real solution to the caste system that divided the people of India. It was that theory which one Sunday motivated Gandhi to walk to a nearby town and attend worship at a Christian church. It was his intent to see the minister and ask for instruction in the way of salvation as well as in other doctrines.
When Gandhi entered the sanctuary, the ushers decided he was not one of them. They refused to give him a seat and suggested he might be happier if he were to go and worship with his own people.
Gandhi left and he never came back.
He concluded, "If Christians have caste differences also, I might as well remain a Hindu."
When I first heard that story, I felt terribly bad. How might global history and Gandhi's history been changed if this soon-to-be influential leader had found earthly equality and spiritual salvation in the Savior? How much different might things have been if those ushers hadn't gotten things so very wrong.
Now don't get me wrong. I agree with those ushers, at least in part. I also believe Gandhi should have worshipped with his own kind of people.
But Gandhi's own kind are not folks who share a certain nationality or skin color. Those things don't make for fellowship or camaraderie. No, not at all. Gandhi's own kind of people are sinners who are in need of a Savior.
Now that's not my idea.
The apostle Peter said the same thing when he preached that "... God doesn't show favoritism, but accepts men from every nation who fear Him and do what is right" (Acts 10:34b-35).
The apostle Paul also agreed when he wrote, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28).
All of this means, Gandhi, you, and I are all the same kind of people. We are folks who on our own are lost; we are folks who are already condemned. We are folks who can be made free and forgiven only with faith in the Christ.
This is something to remember the next time a stranger comes to your church door. Rather than turning him away because he doesn't meet our standards, let's welcome him -- because as a sinner -- he is exactly what Jesus is looking for.
THE PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father, I give thanks You sent Your Son to save me and my kind from damnation. May I be truly grateful and empowered to extend Your welcome to others. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries