That’s a slight exaggeration as I don’t think the guy had any plans to convert right away. But he thought Buddhism might be a nice idea. Appealing anyway. Not like some of the displays of Christianity he has seen.
It started at one of the self-checkouts. He was struggling with the system which didn’t seem able to cope with his packing arrangements – ‘unexpected item… etc…’ – that kind of thing). We got talking and ended up with Buddhism. I think we touched on litter and some local quarrel about wind-farms along the way. At any rate he reckoned that some Christians are arrogant and self-righteous.
If only we were all Buddhists.
I’m not going to suggest a study of comparative religion here. There is a time and a place for that.
But I need to ask the Christian readers of this piece whether they think my supermarket friend is right. He’s talking about us.
I also need to add that he was not being vindictive. He was irritated at the self checkout system and has picked up on some negative aspects of some Christians. But he was not trying to be mean or nasty.
I don’t actually know how much he knows about Buddhism, how informed his fledgling aspirations really are. But I guess he sees it as a peaceful, live and let live kind of religion. I suppose that there are some live and let live types who wouldn’t like Christianity because they would find it a bit restrictive. While Christianity is primarily about the grace of God and not about a list of do’s and dont’s, there are, nonetheless, behavioural implications. Didn’t Paul write that the grace of God teaches us to say no to ungodliness? And didn’t he call on a crowd of clever pagans to repent of their misdirected worship and their false gods?
So let’s not assume that if someone rejects Christianity, it’s all the fault of Christians.
But could there be something to what my checkout friend said?
What if self-righteousness is alive and well in the church? What if – for all we sing about grace – we are arrogant and intolerant of people and things we don’t like? What if we don’t really look like the One whose name we carry and in whose steps we walk?