Benefits of Christian life to a Sikh

(from TW 4/01) Although Sikhism incorporates some elements of Hindu spirituality (e.g. karma, bhakti), its origins as an alternative to the religions of the day gave it a strong sense of community. Even today, its goal is not a missionary one, but one of maintaining identity and community among its followers (Eerdmans 206). This large worldwide community expresses its unity through such means as songs, devotions, and traditional dress and appearance. There is also a strong emphasis upon service to others in the Sikh religion, service which is motivated by a desire to seek the true Guru and thus to find oneness with God.

We see here two potential difficulties for the convert: not only may Sikh converts be forced to sacrifice their ties to the Punjabi community, but they may also find their desire to serve others unfulfilled. The answer to these problems lies in teaching Sikh converts a proper understanding of Christian community, helping them to discover their gifts, and giving them opportunities to use those gifts in service to others.

In conversing with the Sikh convert, the Christian should attempt to discover whether there are elements of community, family, and service that are lacking in the convert’s new Christian life and relationships. It may be necessary for the Christian community to nurture the Sikh convert by offering a new sense of identity. One very effective method might be to involve the convert in a small-group human-care ministry. For example, a group that meets twice per month to deliver food to disadvantaged neighborhoods might be ideally suited to the needs of the Sikh convert, providing identity and an opportunity for service. The Christian congregation may nurture converts even more effectively by soliciting their ideas for human-care ministries: with Sikhism’s emphasis on service, the Sikh convert may be able to contribute many innovative ministry ideas to the Christian community.

n Sikhism, as in Hinduism, karma determines one’s status in the next life; thus, for the Sikh, the worst-case scenario is reincarnation as a lower form of life. One thing Christianity can offer to the Sikh that his own religion cannot is immediate release. The Christian must be careful in presenting this, however. In Sikhism, release from the karmic cycle finally results in oneness with God; for the Christian, however, the final result is a fullness of relationship with God, a restoration of the relationship that was broken by sin. The Christian can offer assurance to the Sikh that our “release” has been accomplished through Jesus, and that God desires for us to be in a personal relationship with Him. For the Sikh who doubts whether his motives and actions are sufficient to release him from bondage to the karmic cycle, this assurance can be comforting and liberating.

To World Religions links