What does Amir Khan do during his leisure? Is Asha Bhosle going to start acting in a movie while in her 70’s? How does Amitabh Bachchan feel about Aishwarya Rai’s recent film? Why does M. F. Hussain not return to India? Does Sallu have anything against Asin? What did Tendulkar feel when he broke another record?... Yes, this is the kind of material that occupies prime-space in the media... because we are a celebrity-driven culture! The artist, the sportsperson, the business tycoon and any other pop-icon is the role model.
At The Lounge
At Kochi airport two persons in colourful robes and one in a white outfit were all heading for their respective flights. The colourful robes were adorned by religious personalities while the person in white was a film star. She was wearing dark glasses, probably because she did not want to be recognised. Well, it’s interesting to notice the contrasts between these persona. The first was when their turn came for the security check. It is normal for one to raise one’s arms when being examined by security personnel in any airport. This is so that the staff can ascertain that there is nothing hidden under the arms. The film star went through security without any fuss, but on the other hand, the cleric refused to raise his hands. Of course, the staff doing the screening did not force him to do so, but it was obvious that he had the impression that he was above the law for the commoner. Now, of course the government has drawn up a list giving names of those who do not have to undergo the security check -- but religious persons are not on that list. They also need to go through security check as anyone else. And the irony is that today the greatest threat from terrorism is by religious fundamentalists! This brings to mind the condemnation that Jesus heaps on those who ‘like to walk around in long robes, and love respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honour at banquets’ (Lk. 20:46).
The story is told of a person who was convinced about the need to have believers’ baptism as an adult. But his reluctance to follow up on that was his unwillingness to be immersed in water because he feared being out of the public gaze even for a second. What a lure the ‘pride of life’ is? Jesus was so aware of the extent that people will go to, in order to stroke their ego and the desire for attention.
While in the departure lounge, while waiting for the flight, another contrast was apparent -- a large number gathered around the film star. Of course, she was (rightly or otherwise) one who naturally attracted interest. Around her were those who wanted a photograph with her and some others who wanted an autograph. She was a role model. On the other hand, there was hardly any attention paid to the ones in religious attire. Here is the catch--they should have only been concerned about being examples in speech, conduct, faith, love, purity (1 Tim. 4:12) and not try to be distinguished by dress. Isaiah, while prophesying about the Christ, says that ‘He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.’ In other words, we would not find Jesus being dressed in a manner that would draw attention to self. In fact, externally there was nothing (including the halos of common pictures) that would tell us that there was something special about the man Jesus.
This brings one to the all important question -- how often is ‘the Word’ ignored?... in favour of familiarity, tradition, personality-cults and even the world. The 21st of May was an important day because of an event of significance. The event? -- Nothing! The ‘nothing noteworthy’ happening on 21st May is worth reporting because of an 89-year old American preacher by the name of Harold Camping. He had announced that the world would end on 21st May at 6 pm (he did not specify the time-zone). Many people left their jobs, sold their possessions and waited. But, in vain!
Jesus repeatedly teaches that no one knows the time when He would come again. He only instructs us to always be on the alert. Nevertheless, it looks like there are many who are not familiar with what the Bible teaches and call themselves ‘Christians.’ Or worse, they believe Mr. Camping more than the good book. This is not even the first time that Camping is doing this... nor the last time. He had earlier made a similar prediction in 1994, but later said that he had made a mathematical error. Now he claims that the spiritual rapture has taken place on the 21st of May and that the world would be physically destroyed on 21st October. The Times of India reported that prior to 21st May, a group of Atheists had put forward a proposal -- they would take care of the pets left behind by those who were raptured for a certain fee (which of course, had to be paid in advance). How those who claim, but actually do not believe or follow the Word, make a mockery of the faith in the eyes of the world!
The robes, the false prophecies and other similar actions show how poorly people are familiar with the Word. It surely is time for us as followers of Jesus to discover the real Jesus and what it means to be a disciple in the kingdom... And sure, we will find it; when we read His Word and compare it with the world. The many surprises that this exercise may hold!