The other day my daughter and I traveled to NYC in order to meet with Radhanath Swami, an internationally respected and admired leader of the Hare Krishna movement. My reason for doing so was primarily in order to share the love of Christ in the spirit of Acts 17: 22-31 and to help dispel the common notion that Bible-believing Christians are intolerant, hateful, judgmental and spiritually arrogant.
When my daughter and I arrived to New Jersey in order to take the bus into NYC, a woman confronted me for wearing a crucifix. She accused me of idolatry for wearing a cross with a corpus of Jesus on it, while explaining that I was violating the “2nd Commandment.”
Exodus 20:4 KJV- Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
While she was angrily accusing me of idolatry and quoting Scripture, I lovingly asked her if God contradicts himself.
“If God doesn’t contradict himself, why would he command Moses to make two graven images of Cherubs and place them on top of the Ark of the Covenant?” I reminded her that in Exodus 25:19-22, God promised Moses that He would appear before him between the two statues on top of the Ark that contained the 10 Commandments. Exodus 25:22 (NIV) says:
“There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the covenant law, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites.”
Our time with the Hare Krishnas was amazing…They treated us with a love and hospitality that I’ve rarely seen in most churches I’ve visited. Not one of their devotees treated us with contempt for not being part of their sect. In fact, they treated us in a way that reminded me of the love and harmony that existed in the early Church.
Upon our return, we were confronted by a younger man at Port Authority. As we were riding on the escalator, he turned towards me and began to angrily ask me if I was “saved.” When I did not respond, he then began to yell at me for wearing a crucifix while quoting the 2nd Commandment.
When I responded by quoting Exodus 25, he became frustrated and tried to bully me by trying to exorcise the “demon of idolatry” that was allegedly controlling me. Our Lord Jesus Christ commanded the following in Matthew 7:20 (NIV):
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
When fundamentalists attack, the first thing we should feel for them is compassion. Their anger and aggressive acts are evidence that they have not heard the true Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and that they are devoid of the Holy Spirit.
The crucifix reminds us that God’s love transcends our understanding. The crucifix reminds us that our sin led us to kill that which the Father loved most, his only begotten Son. Instead of God avenging the death of His Son, He chose to forgive us and grant salvation to anyone who would embrace his love incarnate.
When Christian Fundamentalists attack other Christians for wearing a crucifix (or whatever other reason), they do not realize that they are acting just like the people who insulted, tortured, mocked and killed God’s Son. In fact, they are attacking Christ himself, since every person who believes in Christ is qualitatively part of Christ’s own body and shares in his spirit. (1Cor. 12:27; Rom. 8:11)
The only thing that testifies to the world that we are disciples of Christ is our love for one another. John 13:35 says:
Western society is right to reject the type of “Christianity” that is popular in the West. It is a false version of the Christianity instituted by Christ. The world sees how intolerant, arrogant, impatient and hateful we Christians are towards each other- and because of that, many (rightfully) do not want anything to do with us.
1 John 4:7-8 (NIV)- “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
Could it be that some “Hare Krishnas” have more Christ than some who claim to be “Christian?” Perhaps. Thanks be to God that Christ still has true disciples today. They are truly recognizable by their love for one another, and their desire to share the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.