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Challenge of Christian leadership    

 

By Boxter Kharbteng

The article by Dr. Prof. Glenn C. Kharkongor — “Meghalaya: Dead Last,”(November 28, 2017) should be an eye-opener, a wake-up call, and a soul-searcher for all the leaders of Meghalaya — particularly in the two categories: the political and ecclesiastical leaders. Why leaders? Because, as John C.Maxwell, a world-renowed leadership guru, has reminded us, “everything rises and falls on leadership.” In archaeology there used to be a discerning explanatory principle couched in these words: “like gods, like priests, like people.” The people were like the priests, and the priests were like the gods they worshiped. In context, they were talking of the immorality of the priests and their people, and they traced this problem to the gods they worshiped who were just as immoral.

Meghalaya does not lack any brains or skills. It has enough of these to transform this state into a thing of beauty and a joy forever. Neither does it lack a vision. The fact that there are umpteen number of projects and schemes in different departments of the government — in both state and district levels — shows they know what they should be doing for the state. The good news is that money has been made available for several if not for most of those projects and schemes. But why aren’t those projects and schemes getting off the ground and getting done? Where has the money gone? Where is accountability? Disappearance of money in different governmental departments as well as lack of accountability is a sure recipe for making any state dead last, and ultimately, — dead!

The above-mentioned article of Dr. Glenn Kharkongor also points up the role of the church in curing the ills of Meghalaya. It cites the sufferings and helplessness of  women in terms of their inability to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies, abandonment and rapes — as well as the numberless uncared for and unlooked after poor and orphans, to name a few of the state’s woes.

That Christianity alone has been singled out in this article is easily explainable by the fact that it is the majority religion in the state. It is so big that in the language of prophet Isaiah, it can lift up every valley, make low every mountain and hill, level every uneven ground, and smoothen every rough place. But sadly and shamefully, this religion is not doing enough to make a real and noticeable difference in the lives of the poor and the needy within and outside their churches; not enough in uprooting illiteracy and ignorance among the underserved and underprivileged. Merely lifting the littler finger to address these islike putting a band aid over a gash. We need to lift the other fingers as well.

The preoccupation of the churches for these many years is in the enlarging of their own territories in terms of numbers, institutions, money, and influence. In a number of instances, leaving one church and joining another is not for the faint of heart. Not long ago one lay church leader told me of an instance where one church warned of stripping the clothes of those of its members who wanted to leave their church and join another church. That should those membersdare do so, they would be made to march naked to the church they wanted to join. While these sort of threatening“Christians” have the political and constitutional right to march for religious freedom, yet they have already lost the moral right to do so. In reality, they march only as hypocrites and oddballs.

It is high time that the church wake up to its higher and nobler duty — that instead of focusing its energy, time and resources on competition with the other church or churches, it shouldchannel these energies and resourcesto looking after the sick, the poor, the needy,the illiterates…, as well as in promoting and championing personal and social ethics and righteousness.

The cause of Christianity in India will not be served by showing how it is superior to other religions, but by how well it lives out the life of Christ. Imagine if every Christian leader and officer in a government office, every Christian employee in every walk of life, practices ethics and righteousness. What kind of a Meghalaya would we have by now? Imagine if every government rupee that goes through the hands of a Christian government employee is documented and accounted for. What kind of a Meghalaya would we be having by now? I believe this will happen: New Delhi will find that the Christian hands in Meghalaya are the cleanest and safest to entrust its developmental money for the state. It is only when Christians reach this level of righteousness as government servants and employees, that non-Christians will take their religion seriously. It is only when they see this happening in the lives of Christians, that they will see the power of Christ in in Meghalaya. Once this takes place, Christians donot need to go to non-Christians to tell them about their Christ and his teachings. They themselves will troop to our churches to find out more about this Jesus. No theology or apologetics is required. All that is required is living out Christ in the work place.

On the other hand, if we Christians are as corrupt or something even worse, not only have we betrayed Christ and crucified him all over again, but we have betrayed the Christian cause in the Northeast and in the rest of India. In the end, the most dangerous enemies of the Christian faith turn out to be Christians themselves — to be precise, the nominal and non-practicing Christians.It is time for Christians to get real, to stand up and be counted. It is time we dust our faces down so they can shine and reflect Jesus Christ for others to see him in us, to admire and even to worship him. But this can never take place as long as we find ourselves servilely and shamelessly bowing before the goddess of money and materialism.

I sign off this response by leaving the reader with this famous quote from Ellen G. White:

“The greatest want of the world is the want of men—men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall.”

(Dr Boxter Kharbteng is Retd. Prof. of Theology, Ethics and Philosophy

and can be reached at [email protected])

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