What does Jesus offer a Buddhist?

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blog post by Brian Davis

Greetings from Thailand! The FPU team has had many incredible experiences in Thailand already, including visiting the Grand Palace in Bangkok on the very first day. The team was awestruck at the magnificence of the Palace, which once served as the residence of the Royal Family and currently as a Temple to many Buddhists in S.E. Asia. Within the walls of the Palace, in the inner-court, is the famous Emerald Buddha. It was a new experience for many of us to see people worship something other than the God of Christianity.

We have used Acts as a guide to our time here, and the similarities between the context of the first century Mediterranean world and this one are many. One of the questions we have been asking is, “what does Jesus offer a Buddhist?” The question is a good one as we think about the nature of conversion in the New Testament and today in a context such as this. If a Buddhist is going to become a Christian, are they only exchanging one set of religious beliefs for another? Or, is there something more?

We have attempted an answer for this question by reflecting on the nature of reconciliation. It is common in Christianity to say humanity is alienated from God, and in need of reconciliation. Yet, too often we only think this ‘reconciliation’ comes on the last day, leaving us feeling and behaving as if God is distant from us. We compared reconciliation with God to the reconciliation between a husband and wife who had been in a disagreement. When the married couple is reconciled, they get to enjoy the benefits of the relationship together now; they get to cook together, eat together, laugh together, cry together, and generally enjoy each others company. That is a picture of our life as Christians. At our ‘conversion,’ we are not simply exchanging one system of belief for another, we get to enjoy the very presence of God throughout our day.

As Christians, that is what we can offer the world around us, whether we are in Fresno, or living among the Thai’s in S. E. Asia.

Stay tuned for more updates!