My mother used to tell me the story of my great-grandfather, a doctor at the palace, who married a princess from the Malabar royal family and had to quickly leave the princely State for another, where he started his medical practice again. There, every day, while returning from his clinic, he would come across a German Evangelist, preaching the Gospel and they would argue and debate the Bible, till the Evangelist through his persistent preaching, managed to convert my Hindu great-grandfather and the princess, my great-grandmother to Christianity.
It was a tale I loved to hear, and many a time I imagined my great-grandfather coming home and discussing what the Evangelist had said to his royal wife, who I believe was also well educated and both discussing the new faith. Sadly, today those days are over. Preaching at street corners, distributing tracts, and asking people to renounce their old religion is now dangerous.
So, are our preaching days done?
Oh no, far from it, they've just begun; today we have to live what we once preached, and our lives will do the talking, and what a powerful speech that should be:
"Look at that Christian, look at the peace he has on his face, at his everyday life, just like the Jesus he follows! Let us also follow that Jesus!"
As much as our lives become our pulpits, so also need we become careful that our lives don't lead people away from Christ. The other day I read an article in another Christian magazine about parenting: The article was lengthy and contained a lot of general truths: But, what about his own life as a parent? What did his neighbours see? I remembered the man well, "Hi!" I'd told him once after a meeting, "Are you driving?"
"No, my son is!"
"But your son is only sixteen!"
"Yes, but I have contacts in the Regional Transport Office!"
Oh yes, being a highly placed government officer, he had contacts in the RTO, who gave his sons a licence even when they were only sixteen, by enhancing their ages. This gentleman had many religious stickers on his door, reminding his neighbours he was a Christian; the same neighbours also knew his children were underage for a licence and I guess at least a thousand people saw the bluff; let me tell you, the preaching of a hundred preachers was pulled down because of one man's lie!
There's no use writing about Christian parenting when you can't live a Christian parent! And it happened to me also; while in Madras a few years ago, I rang up the Editor of a local paper which carries my column and asked whether he'd like to have dinner with me. He came and we dined at the Madras Gymkhana. At the end of the dinner, a writer friend who was with me, asked the Editor, "So what do you think of your columnist, now that you have met him in flesh and blood?"
"I am disappointed!," was his frank reply, "His column is bigger than him!"
"Your life's the only Bible which some people read," goes the lyric.
I see my great grandfather and his royal wife nodding and saying, "Yes, dear great-grandson, it's no more in the street corners, or pulpits you preach, it's your lives which do the talking!"
If we want a revival in this country, we need transformation in our lives..!