Lessons in holistic worship from a Hindu
Lessons in holistic worship from a Hindu

Lessons in holistic worship from a Hindu

Last week the DML Global team had our monthly book club meeting. We are currently reading a book called Whole Life Discipleship.  (How cool is it to be in a book club with Christians from many different countries, cultures, and perspectives!  What a privilege!)

One participant from Nigeria shared the following excerpt from a related book, having to do with a Christian who had a run-in with a Hindu and discovered a surprising perspective of that person’s perception of a Christian’s relationship to faith and work.  This perception of Christians should be a wake-up call for the church at large.  

The excerpt is below, with emphasis added.  The book is called, Contagious Disciple Making by David Watson and Paul Watson:

My first learning experience came when I had the unique opportunity to witness to a member of my host community. He was an old shopkeeper who was well-liked and had no problems with me as a foreigner. We conversed almost daily. I liked him, and I think he liked me. I did not hide the fact that I was a Christian. Everyone assumed I was anyway since I was white. He did not hide the fact that he was a Hindu.

One day our conversation strayed to religion. As a trained witness I was thrilled with the opportunity. But as it turned out, the opportunity was one for meto learn, not to lead another person into the Kingdom of God. The old man told me that he just did not understand Christianity. There was no way he could give up his religion, which was so much a part of his daily life, to accept a new religion that from his perspective was so much NOT a part of the daily lives of the Christians he knew. He began every day with meditations, offerings, and prayers to his god. As the day went on, he would stop for more prayer and meditation. Each business transaction was blessed in prayer, and each dollar made thankfully offered to his god.

Everyone knew his devotion, and that devotion was as obvious at home and in private as it was in public. The questions he presented to me shoved me into some long and deep thought and prayer.

“Why would I want to give up the god I can see for one I cannot see?”

“Why would I want to worship only one day a week when now I worship several times every day?”

“Why would I want to do business without the presence of my god to oversee it and bless it?”

“Why would I want to try to convince others of my holiness with words, when they can see my devotion to my god?”

“Why would I want to let only words teach my children, rather than my life?”

This old man had a limited and distorted view of a committed Christian’s life, but the form of secret or private worship that was the norm for most Christians he knew or observed was certainly contributing to his misunderstanding. I realized this had to change. 

Something to think about, for sure.

As I have traveled through India, I have seen many businesses with their gods very proudly on display. As I have traveled in areas dominated by Muslims, I see them breaking their workday up to pray publicly, bowing down on mats on the sidewalks.  I don’t see the same thing for Christians.  

I can understand where this man’s perceptions came from.

For Christians in the West, Christianity is largely kept to a restricted role.  Many Christians give off a perception and practice that there is a separation of faith and work. Western Christians seem to have accepted that religion must be not only be separate but hidden.  Yet Muslims and Hindus both worship and display their faith freely and openly.  

Have we lost something that needs to be brought back again?  

Longstanding Christian traditions that had a stronger correlation between faith and work seem to be lost. There have been times when we were much more closely aligned in nation-building and the wedding of our faith and work.  That wedding of faith and work doesn’t just mean witnessing to others.  

It may mean simply acknowledging who we are and whose we are.