|Enlarge Your Tent|
Solomon R John
Few days back I was busy studying the life of Peter, the great fisherman of the Bible. I read the passage, stumbled over it several times to figure out some new ideas for my powerpoint presentation, which would be of help for my ministry in the market place, especially in the 21st century context. Interestingly! Peter was not an ordinary man, indeed a hard worker who knew how to use the strong net. A veteran in fishing, was helpless when his efforts turned out to be futile. No fish! No money! But Peter was in for a surprise! He lets down the nets in deep waters at the command of Jesus. Wow! it was beyond his expectation. He networked with his partners in the other boat and finished the task assigned to him.
Calling of His first disciples was action packed, a spontaneous realization of Peter’s unworthiness before Christ. Fell at Jesus feet, “Lord I am sinful.” Thats where his divine call came: “ . . . now on you will catch men.” Simon Peter’s public confession reveals that Jesus is Lord and in him all things hold together. Even the authorities on earth. Whether living under a democratic, authoritarian or utilitarian government, whether persecuted or free, Jesus Christ still rules the world both for judgment and for blessing.
God’s kingdom embraces the whole world, the entire creation. We also believe that because of God’s patience the climax of Christ’s kingdom lies in the future and will come by God’s decision, not ours. Christian’s active involvement in nation building in the 21st century must grow from this faith, till his full and final revelation of his government returns. Until then he have to be faithful in serving God. Today, we have ample opportunity to engage in issues that concerns our nation. This transition moment in our fellow citizens will offer Christians a tremendous opportunity to pray and work together in new ways for new political understanding, for an understanding that will allow us to become more faithful witnesses in politics to the God who rules the world through Jesus Christ. Most of the religions globally have a vision to reach God, but still compete for the human heart. I only speak here of India-transforming vision of unity – of how people on earth should eventually be united.
It is the vision of Christ’s kingdom fulfilled. As Paul explains to the Corinthians, this will come when Christ has reconciled all things to God and has defeated every evil, including death that stands in the way (I Cor. 15:24-8). Christ’s kingdom, organised for the glory of God, embraces everything that is human, including all technological, economic,and political dimensions of life. But it will be achieved not by secular design but by God through Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Our challenge as Christians is to learn how to exercise our earthly political responsibilities in obedience to Christ. What does this mean? How should we conduct ourselves as a community, between the times of Christ’s first and second comings? In most countries around the world, Bible-believing Christians are a minority. But whether a minority or a majority, it should make no difference as regards the principles Christians appeal to in exercising the political responsibilities they have.
Many Christians have, for too long, approached socio-economics and politics as something outside the primary responsibilities of Christians. When the distinction is drawn between “church” and the “world,” for example, it usually implies that politics, economics, science, technology, and mass media are “worldly.” The Christian life is thus confined to personal piety, to church activities, to family prayer and Bible study etc. From this point of view, a Christian’s engagement in politics, business or what-so-ever is seen as a step into the secular world.
This dualistic distinction between church and world, between the sacred and the secular is sadly mistaken. Christ is lord of the whole world, over every dimension of creation. People’s aims and purposes outside Christendom may predominate in politics, business, and the public media, but that does not mean these areas of life exist outside God’s standards for creaturely life or outside the domain of Christ’s kingdom. To the contrary, from a Christian point of view, we should see that, in Christ, believers have been called to bring every thought, every activity, every responsibility, captive to Christ. All of life is God’s creation and is claimed by Christ. So it is high time that we learn to proactively involve ourselves in every areas our nations interest.
Christians therefore, must amount to more than the attempt to maintain upright personal behaviour in a secular environment. It must mean more than crusading for a few moral causes by political means. Christian politics must be about politics in its entirety. It must be about defining the very nature of government – about the structure, limits, and policy responsibilities of government. Our personal piety and heart-deep dedication to Jesus Christ should work their way out in the way we seek to obey God with all the responsibilities of stewardship we bear as citizens.
When we approach our nation this way, we can see that the political arena is neither neutral nor non-religious. Rather, it is a world shaped by the religiously deep drives, commitments, and habits of a culture. Politics is organised by the vision of life that controls citizens and governments. Our challenge now is to avoid the easy path of simply going along with democratic, economic, and technological changes as they occur. Instead, our challenge is to develop a coherent Christian perspective in politics that will allow us to make judgements about the justice and injustice of the changes taking place. Even more, we should be seeking, as Christians, to exercise as much leadership as possible – leadership in our national parliaments, in our governments – to propose principled policies and changes in political and civil structures that advance justice domestically and internationally.
Col. 1:15-23; 2Pe. 3:9; Hab. 2:3; Heb. 10:37; Ro. 2:4; 1Ti. 2:1; 1Ti 2:2 1Ti 2:3; 1Ti. 2:4.
Solomon R John, Managing Editor, AIM. He also conducts workshops on HR (Learning & Development) for corporates. You can contact him: workers.inc@hotmail. com