Future Shape Of Sacred Communities? 1

Dave Andrews

A factor that will shape sacred communities in the future is Fascination.

One of the trends I see is that many people are increasingly skeptical of grand narratives, big institutions and major religions. They tend to be more interested in spirituality rather than ideology – experience and experimentation rather than rules and regulations. People are fascinated with Christ, but not so much with Christianity – they want to be ‘Christ-like’, but not ‘Christ-ian’.

Mahatma Gandhi, the great Hindu sage, suggested that, if Christ could only be un-chained from the shackles of Christianity, he could become ‘The Way’, not just for ‘Christ-ians’, but for the whole world. ‘The gentle figure of Christ – so patient, so kind, so loving, so full of forgiveness that he taught his followers not to retaliate when struck, but to turn the other cheek – was a beautiful example, I thought, of the perfect person.’ [1] Gandhi said, ‘I refuse to believe that there exists a person who has not made use of his example, even though he or she may have done so without realising it’. He went on to say that ‘the lives of all have, in some greater or lesser degree, been changed by his presence. And because Jesus has the significance, and transcendency to which I have alluded, I believe he belongs not to Christianity, but to the entire world; to all people, it matters little what faith they profess’ [2] ‘Leave Christians alone for the moment ‘, he concluded, ‘I shall say to the Hindus that your lives will be incomplete unless you reverently study Jesus.’ [3] ‘Jesus did not preach a new religion, but a new life’ regulated by ‘the eternal law of love’ [4]

I expect sacred communities in the future will still be fascinated with Christ and still interested in imitating his example of radical, practical, compassion. I would hope that they would not slavishly copy him, but voluntarily make the same kind of choices he made, and, he encouraged his disciples to make – to accept life, to respect life, and to empower people to live life to the full.

I describe the intentional community that I am part of as ‘a network of residents, working towards community in our locality with all people – particularly the most marginalized and disadvantaged people in our area – in a way that reflects the radical, sacrificial, nonviolent compassion of Christ.’

It is Christian in the sense that it is inspired by Christ. But it is not Christian in the sense that you need to be a Christian to be part of it. As followers of Christ we seek to work with people of all religions and none in a Christ-like way


[1] M. Gandhi, The Message Of Jesus, (Bombay: Bharitya Vidya Bhavan, 1971) foreword

[2] Ibid, 111

[3] Ibid. afterword

[4] Ibid.,40, 79

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