How Ought We Respond?
"Christians Attacked!" "Missionaries Murdered!" "Nuns Raped!" "Church Buildings Razed!" These headlines have riveted attention and focused prayer on the 50-year old republic for the last 12 months.
As never before, the Indian church rallied to assert their rights as proud, equal and full citizens of the land. Concerned Hindus and Muslims protested the violation of human liberty and constitutional freedom of their fellow citizens. The secular press continues to be outspoken on this targeting of Christians for politically expedient reasons.
Internally, mission strategies and methodologies are being evaluated, guiding theology examined, local history re-read and Scripture searched as the church prepares for a new phase in national life. 1998 will be remembered as a watershed year for the Indian church.
On a personal level, how ought I respond? I turn to my Bible. A few thoughts come to mind, none of them original, none in any measure complete.
When calamityas we perceive itstrikes, the most effective antidote has always been the corporate seeking of God by the people of God. His modus operandi deviates little across the generations: trust Him, wait on Him, discern His Word and then act in faith. The Bible repeatedly gives witness to a God who "works for those who wait on Him," "who rejoices in doing good for them."
Think & Act Biblically
Though we affirm that Scripture contains all that is needed for faith and practice, world history reminds us that the Church has often erred in its interpretation and praxis. The current crisis presents us with yet another opportunity to re-examine (and reform) our motives, our methods, our goals, and our faith in the light of Scripture.
Study & Share
Significant documentation is available chronicling the Indian church's substantial contribution (proportionally far beyond its numerical strength) in the sub-continent for centuries. That heritage should not be lost by our ignorance or our silence.
Theological articulation on the purpose and mission of the Church is quite succinct, even on the issue of conversion. We have nothing to fear or doubt regarding our God, our faith or our identity. However, our priorities, our language, our perspectives and our praxis may benefit from closer scrutiny.
Build our Nation
Essentially, my concern is less for the church (the good Lord is more than able to care for her), than for our nation. It is only a matter of time before any incompetent government passes on. But it takes time to restore communal harmony, to de-politicize state machinery and to revive optimism in the hearts and mind of each citizen, irrespective of class, caste, or creed.
As Christians and citizens we cannot ignore our responsibility to be involved in national reconstruction. Both Scripture and history affirm our mandate to actively participate in nation-building.
May our responses bring glory to Him and healing to our nation.
Anil P. is an international student in Southern California.