Today, somebody had a problem with the words I used on my website. One specific term in question was the Pali/Sanskrit term “dana.” It seems that “dana” being a Buddhist term (actually it is an Indian term, not just Buddhist) now used on the website of a Christian like myself is a problem. I am bamboozled.
I had used the concept of “dana” to describe the way I like to run my missional and spiritual formation ministry. I do not want it to be a commercial enterprise or a consumer good/service. Rather, I am convicted to offer my teachings, mentoring, and programs for free. Recipients who feel moved to give something in return are welcome but not obligated to do so. This to me is “dana” and I make no apologies for it. Not one bit.
“Dana” is very alike Christian ideas of giving and hospitality. While the linguistic and cultural context is different, a little study would show that in practice they are very similar. Even if they are different in nuance, what is the problem? The heart of “dana” is open-hearted, open-handed giving. It need not be limited to money.
I am constantly amazed at the spiritual illiteracy of so many people in our world. We seem so ignorant of the plurality of faiths and their particularities that we instinctively recoil with fear and anathema the moment we meet novelty and unfamiliarity. It seems all our love, graciousness, and intelligence get thrown out the door the moment our beliefs and conditioned habits are challenged.
My ministry is neither traditionally nor conventionally Christian. But it is most definitely Christ-centred and Christ-exalting. I am not here to satisfy the ossified habits of my brethren or the church. What the Lord has called me to do, I will do no matter whether ecclesiastical authorities like it or not. Yes, I will stumble along at times, make mistakes at other times, but my trust is in the Lord. He will direct my steps and give creativity to my words and eloquence to my mouth. In the end, I will have to answer to no one but Him and Him alone.
Perhaps the church would do better to clean up her own backyard by speaking out on mass heresies like hypergrace and prosperity teachings than to pick on a lowly small missionary like me. Show some real guts and integrity. Try reaching out to Buddhist meditators and thinkers with huge chunks of Christian church lingo and you’ll see them run millions of miles away from Christ!
So, dear friends, don’t waste your time criticising me for not being a conformist to orthodox church ministry. Frankly, I don’t give a hoot. Conformism to man is not my strength. Suffice that through all these years of spiritual ministry (initially in the Dhamma and now in Christ), ecclesiastical rejection is no stranger to me. Through rejection, God had shown me viscerally what this passage of Scripture means:
And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
It has been my privilege and blessing to serve the Lord. To God be all the glory.