I Chronicles 12;32 talks about “the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do, their chiefs were two hundred; and all their kinsmen were at their command.”
The question that should be in the top of our agenda as leaders of Indian churches, institutions, organizations, parachurches and networks be, do we have a core group of men and women, who understand the times and discern what the church in India should do?
The context is fast changing, and most of us who are keeping their eyes above the routine lives we live cannot but see the fast changes. Much is being written about the changes and so this short write up is not to dwell on the same. But to high light some key changes – the ardent religious nationalism, the arrogance of power, the corporatization of services or almost everything, the side-lining of the minorities and the people in the lower socio economic and caste communities are quite visible.
The question that we should be grappling with is “How shall we then live”? How shall we live in the changing context of today and potential changed context of tomorrow. How shall we reposition, reorganize and reorient ourselves to be the salt and light in a changed nation? One do not get the impression that there is much reflection in these lines from Christian leadership of our nation today.
We see much reactive responses of how to protect our rights, our institutions, our faith in the context of these being challenged and potentially being diluted. We see leadership coming together to talk about the changing policies and laws being implemented or being planned by the state and how that will affect us and how we should protect ourselves. Important as these be, it is more of a reactive and self-protective agenda, which alone should not be what we should be grappling with.
There seems to be realization of the need for prayer and intercession and some movements are happening here and there where individuals, churches, NGOS, and networks are coming together to intercede for our nation, its leaders and our communities who are adversely affected. There needs to a much more strengthening of this aspect of our engagement.
Much less response is visible where the church is aligning with or being a voice for those maximally affected by some of the changes the country is going through. People in the margins, tribal areas, other faith communities are equally affected or at times more affected. One does not see much response from our leaders either communicating about these issues or aligning themselves with these challenged communities. When we are in the self-protective mode, any way it is difficult to move in to this arena and probably that is the reason why we do not hear much.
One does not hear any discussion on, how should we as a community live and work for the Kingdom and our nation, in a changed context. The time is ripe, to reflect and discern, how shall we then live, if our country moves into a changed context. What is God expecting from the church in India? How should we reposition and reorient and reorganizes our lives, to be a community which holds on to the mandate of the Kingdom and a Kingdom vision for our nation.
It is time that as leaders, we take time off from ‘business as usual’ – the business of maintaining and protecting our churches, institutions organizations to reflect on how can we be men of Issachar. Leaders who discern through God’s perspective, the times and understand how shall we then live in a changed and changing nation of ours so that we continue to be the salt and the light.