I recently met a visiting scholar from India at the missions focused William Carey University who is reaching people from a Hindu background in a very non-traditional way.
Most Christian churches in India are white or beige with a cross in front or on top of the building. This man doesn’t have a church but rather has an “Ashram” (Hindu monastery or retreat center) which is bright red, the color of Hindu temples because this hue is what communicates a place of spirituality and worship to an Indian.
In one of the many rooms of the Ashram is a picture of a famous Indian atheist. This man is against organized religion because Hinduism has been the basis for the caste system which locks people into social strata from which they cannot break out of. If you are low caste you cannot go to good schools, get a good job, marry outside your caste. If you are high caste you have upward mobility and privilege and you need not concern yourself much with others less fortunate than you because that is their fate.
He uses this man as a intersection point with the story of Jesus over turning tables in the temple from Matthew 21 and how Jesus is against religion and associated pride and privilege and commerce. That his house is a house of prayer for all people and it is about a relationship with God – not religiosity.
Many from a Hindu background are intrigued by this open discussion about the concept of a god who is about the equality of man with his brethren; the concept of praying for others, and the concept of a loving relationship with a god, not one of fear and appeasement.
It was a fascinating discussion. Some would disagree with this approach. But it makes me think about how we as Christ followers can examine ourselves and how we can better communicate the truths of having a true relationship with Jesus, a living and loving god. And how we can avoid the “noise” of cultural and institutional Christianity which sometimes doesn’t accurately communicate the essence of the gospel. Relevancy and meeting people where they are at was Jesus’ specialty. How can we do the same?