My Sunday school teacher told me watching movies is sin, but when I saw how a movie clip was played by a US pastor in a church to make a point before his message, I was shocked. I always enjoyed the Holy Communion but for me the ‘wine’ cannot be anything but sweet grape juice or in the worst circumstances, a sip of coca cola. But I was shocked when I found out that I actually gulped real alcoholic wine in a church in Israel. When my Church pastor struggled to convince people to contribute for the building renovation, I was shocked to see a church in Visakhapatnam organizing a fair which seemed very ‘worldly’ and raised all money they wanted in a day.
I was told by many that having a Christmas tree is a pagan custom, but the family that hosted me in the US, who were very good believers, placed a beautifully decorated Christmas tree right in front of their house. I liked it so much. When I understood that only the ordained can baptize people, I was shocked when a pastor in Helsinki who knows very well that I am not an ‘ordained’ pastor asked me to baptize nearly half a dozen people in His church, which I eventually did. At a time when I was haunted for making rock music in one of my music albums, I was very comforted when I saw many youngsters around the world praising God with the same music, and it was only natural to them, I saw no guilt in them at all.
Having grown up in a Baptist church where even saying ‘Hallelujah’ was almost forbidden, I was really shocked when I met a Baptist pastor who fervently prayed in tongues. While young I was told by my youth leader that dancing of all forms, especially in the church is bringing dishonor to God. But now every time I watch the Christians in Africa and the Middle East dance both inside and outside the church I get overwhelmed by the spirit of joy they possess.
For many years I believed that everything I followed was nothing but universally accepted Christianity. I did not have any idea that there are so many things so very new to me until I started to travel to different terrains of the Christian world. There were times I used to wonder why among us, the Christians, are so many disparities. Do we all please God or only a certain kind do? Does only the perfect please Him, and if so, who are those perfect? Are there any such at all in the first place? Who is right? Who is wrong? Why isn’t there a uniform code of conduct for the global Christian?
Some people wanted clarifications to these very questions. And so they came to Jesus and asked: “Jesus, we see so many differences in the people who follow you. We have some questions and plead you to clarify them. Is it a sin watching movies? Some say, yes it is and the others say no, not at all. We like you to tell us which is the standard form of singing or dancing that pleases you? While some do not play music in their churches, the others believe you like music very much. Who is right? Some pray in tongues, while some say that is not the right way. What do you say? We like to know the standard procedure to pray and baptize people. Can you please prescribe? Please let us know whether Christians should celebrate Christmas or Good Friday or Easter. And if you don’t mind, please also give us certain guidelines on how to celebrate them as we don’t want to do any mistake. Jesus,we have so many other questions too, but to keep everything short, we want to know why there isn’t any uniform code of conduct for all Christians? Jesus,please give us the best possible code of conduct which will be universal law for all your followers, and please, it should be very precise and unambiguous.Lord, please understand that we ask this only to find a way to be perfect and please you”.
After listening patiently to them Jesus agreed, and then with no hesitation He said: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. This is the first and important command. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. This is the universal code of conduct you asked for”. Having said this, and after a pause,Jesus turned to those people and asked: ‘DO YOU LOVE ME?’