J. N. Manokaran
On 23 March at 10.30 pm the Sun TV Tamil channel had a special episode on its news serial nijam (Truth). The news was about the Christian leaders who were exploiting children in the Children's Homes run by them. The children were abused physically, emotionally, and even sexually. The anchor of the programme emphasised the fact that the leaders were carrying Bible, preaching, but betraying Jesus Christ. Most of the children are from Assam and Manipur. The Christians who experience insurgency in their respective State, thought their children would be safe in Tamil Nadu and would also have good education. But, the Government of Tamil Nadu had to raid these premises and release these hapless victims. Christians had to hang their head in shame for the deeds of these selfish leaders.
The Readers Digest (March 2010) published a survey providing a list of top one hundred trusted persons in India. And not even one among them was a Christian. On 22 March 2010 India Today published a list of influential Indians (Power People) living in India and another 20 Non-Resident Indians. Again, no Christian was found in the list. Strangely, none of the Indian Christians was found on the list. The question we have to ask is: Where are the Indian Christians? There is crisis of credibility or reputation, rather than persecution.
Indian Christianity is in crisis, not because of persecution, but because of neglect of teaching of the Bible in personal life, community life and national life. Why values taught in the Scripture are neglected or ignored? Is there a Biblical illiteracy among Christian community, that Christian leaders are blind leading the blind? Instead of being role models, Christians are becoming byword in many parts of India. Already there is a report that criminals from Christian community are much higher in proportion to the population. There are three lacks: Lack of Radical Discipleship, Lack of Sacrificial Stewardship and Lack of Servant Leadership.
1.Lack of Radical Discples
Christians are not radical disciples, but conformist disciples. They forget their call to transform the world, but allow the world to squeeze them into its mould. It is easy to swim along the water flow rather than swim upstream. When Christians are not different in their priorities, values and relationships, they are followers of mass culture. They do not produce counter culture, but become dead Christians in suffocating cultural atmosphere.
There are more pseudo disciples, rather than radical disciples. In the outward appearance and verbal profession; they look like Christians. Having the apparel of Christian sub-culture (like wearing white to Sunday worship, carrying Bible always, etc.) and using 'evangelical vocabulary' they look like authentic Christian disciples. Unfortunately, they are psudo-disciples because of their crooked thinking and un-Christian attitude.
The disciples are selfish and refuse to think beyond themselves or their family members. Pastors eliminate emerging leaders (worship leaders, Bible teachers, etc) to bring in their sons and daughters to leadership. The talents, gifts and skills given by God are not for personal wealth creation, but for building the Kingdom of God. Many churches involve in social work, if they get funds from foreign countries, not by their sacrificial contribution.
2.Lack of Sacrificial Stewardship
There is lack of understanding of the concept of stewardship. God has entrusted with each disciple their life, time, talents, treasure, gifts, skills, resources, opportunities…etc that should be used wisely, strategically, optimally for the glory of God that results in the growth of the Kingdom of God. Nevertheless these are not used, but misused and sometimes abused.
One organisation had two times the number of computers than their staff. Many computers have Bible verses as screen savers and not used at all. This organisation had resources, but could not be used. Over a period of time, these computers became outdated and was thrown away. What a criminal waste of God's resources, instead of creative use of resources.
Many Christians do not perform anything, stating they do not have equipment or resources. For example, some mission leaders give excuse that they do not have laptops, so their performance is poor. This shows lack of creative stewardship. David did not have the sophisticated weapons like shield, sword or spear like Goliath; but had creative idea to use pebbles and sling instead. Laziness and incompetence is lack of stewardship.
There is one Christian institution that is being sold out. The trustees of this institution think that it is their property and can do whatever they like with it. In fact, the institution belongs to the 'people of God,' not a few individuals. If they have a sense of stewardship, they would not sell to make personal profit, but work for the welfare of the church and Christian community.
3.Lack of Servant Leadership
There is a lack of servant leadership among Christian community. Christian leaders move around with private security like politicians, with black commandos. Politicians consider having black commandos as status symbol and expression of their power. Flaunting wealth is mark of corporate leadership. Unfortunately, Christians are caught in the rat race.
Our Lord Jesus walked to reach one Samarian woman and preached to one person audience. There are so called 'evangelists' who demand a minimum crowd for their 'show and performance'.
Recently, one security officer was hurt in a bomb blast and was bleeding to death. The ministers, who were on the site, waited for ambulance to arrive, for carrying the hurt police officer to the hospital. They did not want their car to be soiled. They valued their car, more than the life of the dying officer. The poor man bled to death. Such politicians think people should die for their well being and progress. But, servant leadership is Shepherd dying for the sheep and not sheep dying for the sake of the shepherd.
There is a great challenge for redefining Christian life and ministry from the Scriptural point of view, rather than cultural point of view. That means, returning to the Scriptural basics. There is a great need for Radical Disciples, Sacrificial Stewards and Servant Leaders. Are we one?