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Feb 18, 2018

Coexist: Christianity and Buddhism

Coexist: Christianity and Buddhism

Passage: Psalms 23

Speaker: Pastor Chris Riedel

Series: Coexist Sermon Series

Category: Faith

Keywords: buddhism, coexist series

Christianity and Buddhism are fundamentally different in understanding God's relationship with the world.


“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” - John 13:34-35   

One of my oldest and dearest friends is Buddhist. Honestly, I never thought much of it when I met her. We were both in college and, at the time, I didn’t really know what I believed—I had been raised Christian, but really didn’t know what that meant in my early 20s. I did not go to church and nor did she go to temple. Both of us were more interested in discussing classes and, let’s be honest here, boys. I was interested in other religions and had read the book Siddhartha in school, but it just wasn’t at the forefront in my mind to consider these things in my own life. What I knew then and know now is that I love my friend like a sister, and she remains one of the most considerate, kind, and caring people I have ever met.  

It wasn’t until my 30s, when I had begun my own family, that Mike (a former Catholic) and I decided to go to church—a Methodist church—and raise our children as Christians. I became actively involved and attended Bible studies and at some point after reading C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, my faith was sealed and that’s all there was to it. No, I’m not saying I haven’t questioned Jesus and God—we all do that and any Christian that says different has not had a significant hardship that rocked their world (it will come, trust me). 

So back to my Buddhist friend—while I was busy taking Bible studies and finding Jesus, she got married (to another former Catholic) and they decided to raise their children Buddhist. At the time, I admit, I was both concerned for her salvation and curious about her faith. When her father passed away, we attended the service which was held at a Buddhist temple. It was very nice, very spiritual and very calming. I have since gone back to temple with her and would say the same thing. My curiosity was satisfied and even though I knew/know that Buddhism is not my belief, I find that it is a thoughtful and beautiful religion that has goodness at heart. I see this all in my friend too. 

As for my friend’s salvation, I long since decided to leave that to God. Oh yes, my friend and I have had conversations, but neither of us judge or try to sway one another—we both show curiosity and respect when it comes to our beliefs. What I do know for sure is that I am called to love my neighbor—she is too—and that we both care and love deeply. 


Dear God, thank You for the gift of love and friendship. Thank You for putting those people in our lives that are different from us and cause us to think and be curious—help us learn and gain wisdom. Most of all thank You for giving us love. Please help us to understand and accept Your ways and may You work through us in ways that give You glory. In Jesus name we pray,  Amen.

Written by Lisa Korhnak who is the Director of Communications for Arcola Church (she also Directed Arcola's Care Ministry for 7 years). Her goal in working at the church is always to help others feel connected to each other, to God and to feel comfort when times are tough. In addition to her leadership as a director, Lisa is a congregational care minister and lay counselor - providing support to those in need of hope and healing. She and her family (husband, three children and labradoodle) live in South Riding and have been members of Arcola Church since 2005.