Stretched, in a good way.
The past several weeks have been an experience in being stretched. My wife asked me how I have been changed so I thought it would be worth answering here as well.
To begin with, India is a country that has both been beautiful and saddening. Some people I've talked to seem to think it is a spiritually desolate place, but I think just the opposite. If anything, people here are extremely spiritual. They just aren't (mostly) Christian. When I was in Kolkata it seemed all of India was poor and wretched. Going to the Sunderban Tiger Reserve showed me some of the great natural resources of the country. Being in Delhi has showed me some of the more religious people in India, although, honestly, not Christian.
This place is beautiful in its own right and has fantastic history of national progress, human triumph, and monuments to those who have gone before. With that is another sad history of Religious division, political discord, and suffering from poverty.
Just like home. :-)
But I've been changed being here. How?
1) My image of God has grown because I've gotten to spend time with some of God's children. The people here are so different, so beautiful, and so loved by Jesus. Mother Teresa was an amazing example of how to do it right. She loved everyone regardless (as the image of God is in each person) and yet was unmistakably Christian in her love. I'll share a lot more about this later, but for now - she embodied for me the best way to be Christian in a pluralistic world that doesn't always appreciate loving the unlovable. She also embodied a way to love the wealthy, healthy, and wise so they can contribute to the Kingdom too.
2) My role as a pastor has changed in my eyes. I asked someone why there was so much tension between Hindus and Muslims. (Specifically these two are the largest religious groups followed by Sikhs and Christians.) I was told that the common folks get along just fine. Muslims around Hindus, Hindus around Christians, etc etc. But the leaders of these respective groups (according to the guy I was talking to) work them into a frenzy to achieve their ends. So it a world where religious leaders still have some respect, I plan to only work people into a frenzy for God's love. If folks don't get excited about that they shouldn't be excited about anything.
Enough to chew on for now? I hope so. Namaste.