Ever since the widespread persecutions got underway, I have been wondering about what the right Christian response to this ought to be. This is a painful and uncomfortable question to both reader and more so the writer because the writer ought to be aware that he would be judged by the King as per what he writes. In this writeup, I do not endevour to critic the Christian reaction or give my opinion on an good action plan to realign the Christian activity in India. I am going to try to delve into the underlying thought patterns and Christian convictions which are the impetus behind the Christian reaction.
The moment the persecutions started Christians have invariably jumped on the bandwagon of cranking the diplomatic mechanism to prevent a conflagration. The Christian egroups were flooded with what letters to be sent to ddresses of government authorities, rallies were organized, much was done to get the attention of the government and the media. Using the diplomatic avenues wisely is important, after all Paul used his Roman citizenship when it was wise and expedient to do so.
But the fundamental question one has to ask oneself is “why are the Indian metropolitan Christians so eager to get help by resorting to diplomatic channels?” is it because they want the plight of the poor tribes being hunted down in the jungles in Orissa to end soon or do react so because of the vested interests closer to their homes so that they wouldn’t themselves, because of unmitigated persecutions, have to face the thrust of the Trident in their big cities?
Empirically, Christianity has only spread when the blood of martyrs made the soil fertile for a huge harvest. Christian blood is the ransom for the gospel to have a substantial effect in any society. Even God had to give a ransom to usher a new age of freedom in human history. Even God was nor exempt from having to pay a ransom. Without ransom there can be no revival. But as I keep watching the reaction of the Indian metropolitan Christians, I seem to feel that they somehow want to be exempt from the necessity of the ultimate ransom – the Christian martyrdom.
The covert duplicity in the Christian reaction was clearly brought recently, when a Church was attacked in Mangalore, one of the most literate cities in India. The pastor of the church said to the Hindu fanatics who attacked them, “you guys got the wrong Church, in our church we don’t go about preaching the gospel to the non-believers, other churches preach the gospel to non-Christian, but we don’t. We don’t deserve to be punished so…”. The idea of having to pay a ransom for the Christian cause was too painful and unnecessary to these city churches.
This is a stark contrast to the attitude of the western missionaries during the early part of this centuary. In China the Boxer revolution of 1900 made martyrs of close to 200 western missionaries. The very next year, in ships from the west, close to 200 western missionaries landed on the Chinese shore to take the place of the martyred missionaries. Why? because they were inspired by the example set by their precedors. How? because that is Christianity at work where the followers of the King try to imitate His example of sacrifice. It was this attitude of great Christians that made Christianity to be global force to be reckoned with.
But before wondering if much of the Indian Christian reaction was Christian enough, one has to wonder how comfortable each of us is with the idea of martyrdom. “Would I be willing to be a martyr for Christ?”, “Would I lay down my life for God’s glory?”, “Would I be willing to be a martyr just to prove that I am ALL, God’s alone?”, “Would I be willing to forego all the dreams and passions of my life for the sake of Christian martyrdom?”, “Would I or would I not, that is the question.” Every Indian Christian ought to ask oneself these costly questions. Afterall, Christianity was never cheap.
The answer would be “Yes, I would”, if the greatest dream and passion of my life is to be considered worthy of partaking in the ultimate ransom by following the example of the greatest Martyr ever to have walked this earth. St. Peter did not even consider himself worthy of equal (similar) partaking with Christ and hence he made a plea to be crucified upside-down. No wonder Christ choose Peter to be the rock upon which the Church would be built. In the early Church, when martyrdom as considered an unequalled privilege not many would be worthy of, Christianity spread like wildfire.
In our cosmopolitan Churches, the idea of martyrdom is relegated as unnecessary and may be even archaic. The Indian cosmopolitan Churches need more Peters. The more Indian Christians are willing to be martyrs claiming their place closest to God, as flames in the ‘crystal lake’ before God’s throne, the more the Church would grow as a wildfire, after all there cannot be a revival without a ransom.