We have a team of 5 men returning from India today. Look for a few guest posts in the coming weeks from them.
Many of you know that Africa captured my heart long ago. In the last few years, India has captured my intrigue. The intrigue of India unfolds every time I engage with it. Whether it’s visiting the country, talking with Victor who started the indigenous ASSI organization, or meeting a new leader I’m inspired and challenged.
My inspiration comes from the decisions of people to follow Christ in spite of living in an environment that allows open derision and physical harm for doing so. Suffering and persecution are part of the discipleship process from the beginning, according to one Indian church leader I talked to. In other words, accept Christ and you also get suffering.
“But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.” (Rom 8:17b)
The challenge (and excitement!) is the pace at which this movement is multiplying, in spite of the persecution, causing me to rethink my paradigm for effective Christian living in this world. This is the core of my intrigue. What is going on in people’s lives that they would make such a dramatic decision to embrace suffering when they didn’t have to? What battles, seen and unseen, were they losing and now they see the victory in Christ?
“No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ who loved us.” (Rom 8:37)
It seems to me that the church in India doesn’t just grow in spite of persecution. It grows BECAUSE of persecution. Every time a Christian handles their persecution in a way that is different than the prevailing culture, someone will notice. It raises questions in people’s minds and sometimes they will ask. This leads to a conversation, and often leads to another decision for Christ.
Another part of my paradigm shift from this India intrigue is the concept of deed before Word. Believers meet a need when they don’t have to and again, someone will notice. Questions are raised again, which leads to conversation and more decisions for Christ. The authenticity comes through because there’s nothing in it for these followers of Christ as they meet other needs. They are not selling goods for service. They are meeting needs for free and they share the Why.
My old paradigm had to do with quality control, especially the competent handling and sharing of Scripture. I still hold to that and continue to hold the Bible as final authority in all things. But effective Christian witness in this world is not just about sharing the Bible. It’s about living out the Bible in all situations, motivated by Christ’s love for us.
“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, ‘For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.’) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8:35-39)
The intrigue in India is the intrigue of all world cultures. Unselfish love lived out for others because He first loved us.
Til next week,