Can we face the facts? Census 2011 is out again. Caesar Augustus will be happy. For all the emotions stoked by zealous headhunters, unfortunately, none of us are able to see any headway on the percentage of your children in our country. Number of Christians has not grown and may even have dipped a little. Heart wrenching. Outlook express essayist Tony Joseph, an ex-Christian, commenting on Indian Christianity’s failures and dismantling all the myths ends his essaying by saying, “mini-minority of the population“. Just an annoyance. In other words, mosquito-bites.
I can hear those finger-wagging mission professors giving us all kinds of reasons – historical, cultural and philosophical. Sure, any other reasons? Now before you say what matters is not numbers but faithfulness, I wholeheartedly agree. But in a fallen world, facts have to be faced and prayed about. Can we at least agree on this? My two cents: bright lines have not been drawn to limit what is and what is not the axis mundi of our faith. Worse, they are been erased in the name of tolerance and diversity. Annoyance is what you get when you rub the wrong lines.
One basic reason I have found in my little time with you is that for too long and in too many sermons, man has been the focal point and his needs trumpeted too loudly into our ears. Let me gently say that Church exist first for God and His glory. While human beings and their needs are definitely a part of that, it is emphatically NOT the central part. Too many Christians never evangelize but are rather too concerned about others and how they come across to other people. We have lost unity and gained uniformity. Uniformly, we have become empty tombs concerned about how we appear before others. Unity has to come from above and can never be manufactured. Any legitimate questions on why no cross, no Christ, no creeds, and no confessions is constantly browbeaten under the superficial answer of escaping the moral demands of Jesus. This will not do. The pendulum has swing too much to the other side. Human needs have become the central concern for you. Man does not live by bread alone.
Pulpits make much of man’s need to sacrifice and external moral goodness that there is no time for God’s sacrifice on the cross and electric sense of salvation. No joy. No sharing. Only adjustments. I am unable to listen to your pulpit voice when you, who is supposed to represent God’s people to the world end up doing too much of the opposite. Your pulpit is filling us with fallen man’s needs. I am not suggesting to turn a blind eye to needs but I think we have gone too far too long. Such idols have failed us as they eventually will.
Ultimately, man’s real need is not that he has needs but that he needs to be needed. He needs to feel that he is needed and loved by someone when no one is really going to need him in his lifetime. He needs to know that there is a heartfelt love to be gained in this life. For a sinful man there is no way he can earn that except as a gift through God’s work on the cross. Until such hard truths are driven into our heads, inside the Church, your faithful children will just be a bunch of decent and nice people whom the world will certify, “The people, who don’t rock the boat”. Our acts will not upset the world. We will have marred witnesses not martyrs.
The Biblical God is jealous for His Church. He needs to be at the center of worship and praise. Worship is the ultimate goal of mission not gathering workers. Humans need redemption not just solutions.
It is our time to come out of the cave into the blazing sunlight of the Gospel and address the darkness still inside. It’s springtime. Isaiah not Tony Joseph has the last word on God’s people, “And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken” Is 40:5 (NIV).
Oops, not even Isaiah has the last word.