Showing posts with label Christianity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christianity. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Life Extraordinaire | Manna for your Soul

We all have jobs to do. Some like working for a steady salary at the end of the month, others like the possibility of making their own fortune and then there is a third set of people who love neither. 

One of the most endearing quotes I remember growing up was something my dad told me - 'Never ever shirk from work. Make hay while the sun shines, because a day will come when you won't have the strength to earn nor the will to starve'. 

In his 40 plus years as a researcher, he never took a day off. 

The Bible is replete with instances of apathetic, dodgy and freeloading scumbags that we are all familiar with. When we see someone with a congenital disease or illness, we are quick to dismiss him/her as reaping the wages of sin. Yet, we rarely see how afflicted we ourselves are. 

Today, I'd like to draw your attention to one particular story that has always caught my attention. 

In John 9: 6-7, we see Jesus had just finished telling his disciples, and anyone who'd hung about him that as long as He is here on earth, He is the Light of the World. 
Perhaps He said this just as a prelude to what He was going to do next. 
Jesus spits on the mud, makes a clay patch out of the spittle and places it on the eyes of a man who was born blind. 
He then asks the blind man to go to the pool of Siloam, wash his eyes and return. 
Easy peasy!

I can almost picture this scene. People around Jesus would have wondered why he had to make a clay when He could simply place His hands on the blind man and his sight would have been restored. Surely, Jesus did far greater miracles until then.

I can imagine how the people may have groaned at the fact that Jesus spat on the ground and made a clay and placed the spittle loaded clay on someone's eyes. 
I can also imagine how the people would have wondered why Jesus is asking a blind man to walk a certain distance to do something he could have done right there. Surely, the man would have had a pitcher of water close to him.

But through all of this, many theologians forget to honor the blind man's faith. 

This man has been blind all his life, and probably has been hearing a lot about the Man who can do miracles. So when Jesus was finally within earshot, he must be been visibly elated and waiting for 'the touch' that can cure him. Probably give him his eyesight in an instant. 
So I can only imagine how disappointed he would have been when Jesus asked him to go wash the clay off his eyes to see again. Nevertheless and unlike many other people in the Bible, the blind man did what he was asked to do. He never questioned, he never mocked Jesus nor asked for any proof of concept. 
He simply obeyed!

Much earlier, in John 2: 7-10, Jesus asked the servants of the house to fill 6 jars of 30 gallons each with water. The servants might have wondered why they were being asked to do something they already know they should do. This was part of their job description after all. Yet they still decided to obey Him. What followed is hailed as His first great miracle. There is also another reason why Jesus chose to start His ministry here - Throughout the Bible, water is symbolic of life. And He wants us to know that just as the very touch of Jesus converted water to the finest wine in the wedding at Cana, only He can turn  an ordinary life into a life extraordinaire. 

Everytime I faced a problem at work, I've taken inspiration from the Colossians 3:23

We are allergic to work. We have an inherent need to oppose the mundane and chase the elusive. We drag our feet when we are asked to do something normal. Maybe that's why our problems exist. We expect extraordinary solutions to ordinary problems. 

Obey wholeheartedly. Be patient to His purpose in your life, and He will fill it up to the brim. Even though you won't understand how you deserved it.

The glory is His. The privilege of being a part of His life is ours.

Monday, October 12, 2015

A brutal way to die | Manna for your Soul

This post is long due and delayed because of the amount of research that went into this. 

A couple of weeks ago, I polled people about 'the most brutal and violent ways to die' online. 
I got a deluge of responses and many were simply shocked that I would ask such a question online. Some were curious and others were quite scandalized that I would even think of something like this. 
Many thought I had way too much time in hand, but I still did get a lot of interesting answers. 

Many believed a person would die a violent death if he/she is slowly and painfully tortured until life gives up. I didn't think it would be violent to be slowly and meticulously tortured, because while the physical injuries can be shocking, the body's capabilities to withstand and tolerate pain gradually increases to a point where the victim is either completely numb from the effects or has lost sensation in that part of the body and no longer is dying a brutal and violent death. 
Others thought, being shot or decapitated was a gruesome way to die. I doubt this qualifies since the speed of a bullet piercing or an object slicing through the body is so fast that many times, the victim won't even feel pain and may get dizzy and die only because of excessive blood loss. 
Some even thought burning/lynching is a good way to die hard. I don't think burning is painful enough, because our body releases endorphins and morphine to combat the pain the moment the top layer of the skin is signed. In most cases, as in instances where people die trapped in buildings on fire, the victims faint because of smoke inhalation and are not conscious when their bodies are completely charred. 
Personally, after witnessing how my dad valiantly fought cancer, thought accidental irradiation and lifestyle diseases like cancer and the prolonged treatment of radiation was the worst way to die. But my dad only got exhausted after weeks of painful cycles of radiation and at the end, he was happy to leave. Radiation isn't the worst killer here either.
But then a Jewish reader gave me a very interesting answer. One that answered several questions I had in my mind. One that brought back images so gruesome that people rarely talk about it anymore. 
Crucifixion. It was a brutal combination of some of the most painful ways to die.

The name brings up images of Jesus and his last moments on the cross. 

First used among the Seleucids, Carthaginians, and Romans from about the 6th century BC to the 4th century AD, Crucifixion was invented by the Romans in 300 - 400 BC as punishment for the most serious of criminals. The upright wooden cross was the most common technique, and the time victims took to die would depend on how they were crucified.
Jesus was the last known person to be sentenced to die on the upright cross, and in the year 337 AD, Roman emperor Constantine abolished Crucifixion. 

But how did the Crucifixion kill? Historians and theologians have agreed that Crucifixion is and shall remain the most gruesome, brutal and painful way to die. A quick search online for how crucifixion kills will tell you that suffocation because of the inability to breathe when
the victim's arms are stretched and nailed to either sides, massive loss of blood because nails are driven into major veins/arteries, over-exposure ultimately leading to multiple organ failure. In most cases, death would come before endorphins kicked in and many times, soldiers would break off the legs of the victims so that they died faster. 
Remember this was after the victim was sentenced to a pre-determined number of whips/lashes, which always had barbed wire or nails at the ends. With flesh exposed and the skin peeled away, the body will be going through a cycle of pain, shock and numbness until he/she is finally (and fatally) nailed to the cross. Let's also remember the victim didn't have a valet service for their cross. They often had to trek with their own crosses to the top of a hill. The victim would be laid down on the cross, their arms stretched out and nails driven into their wrists (severing the arteries and fracturing the wrist bones), their feet stacked upon a pedestal and nailed and then hoisted to an upright position on the perch of the hill for the rest of the country to see. The victim is then left conscious until they suffer from multiple organ failure, because they cannot exhale or inhale with arms pulled out of the sockets and unable to lift their bodies because their legs are broken, the victim is brutally aware of the way his/her body 'shuts down' and gives up. (Source: How did crucifixion kill)
Sometimes, victims were given psychotropic drugs/alcohol to prolong and multiply the brutality the body will inflict on the mind. 

See, now this makes sense to me. As a Christian, I now have a renewed sense of awe (if you may call it) and reverence to the amount of suffering that Jesus put Himself through. Christians are told that Jesus died for our sins. Yes, He did. It truly was the most brutal way to go. It was the only way to atone for generations of sin. Like a ginormous sponge to soak up a trillion liters of water, God realized that crucifixion was the only way possible to 'buy out' all our sins. 

If you've seen 'Passion of the Christ' or any other equally realistic portrayal of the Passion, you'd have wondered why He was put through the brutal lashes, the need to justify Himself, the moments where He was mocked, the fury from the crowds, stand the scathing insults from high priests and finally the sense of loneliness that He went through. Like some atheists would have questioned, this is something I have wondered - why the Crucifixion. Because that was how it was at that time. Today, as we hear of justice being denied or delayed merely because the law chose to thread a path the media and public chose, I am pained. 
As millions solemnly commemorate the way a nation put one innocent Man to a death He didn't deserve,  do you feel a eerie sense of deja vu?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

'tis the season... [359/365]

.. to be jolly. falala la la la..

When you're abroad, Christmas is all about feeling good. When Christians and non-Christians get a much deserved vacation.
When your wives and girlfriends get more intimate with you so that you buy them that fur and gucci, you know you'll have loosen the purse strings.
When your children are at their best behavior, you know its Christmas.

In India, Christmas is a totally different experience.
For most ignorant Hindus, Christmas means getting drunk on rum, wine-soaked plum cakes, and a reason to party in gay abandon.
For young nubile Christians, Christmas automatically means getting drunk and 'socializing' with the opposite sex.

While I have nothing against the faithful enjoying their tipple, I wonder what justification non-Christians have to get sozzled.

Over the years, I've seen the season getting increasingly commercialized. Tantalizing shopping discounts tempt you to break that piggy bank savings you struggled to achieve the whole year.
I am surprised at how we have managed to twist the relevance of the event into something so vile and repulsive.

A church that I once visited on Christmas had its predominantly young, incredibly wealthy and very beautiful congregation wear cocktail dresses and ultra-mini skirts with strapless/backless bustiers and other dresses with plunging necklines and raising hemlines. Nearly every lady at the church was dressed provocatively. The scene isn't very different from another church that I visit regularly either. Teens and young adults at the cusp of college come dressed in mini skirts and strapless dresses that would have looked more in place at a discotheque than a night-time church service. Nearly all of them are actually accompanied by their bleary-eyed fathers in tow. The parents probably never have a say, because it is either supervised church time with the family or unsupervised party time without the family. Either way, the young women are wearing what they want. And the young men, to ogle and single out the girl they want to 'hit on'.
Every year, I take a mental oath to never ever come back to such debauchery. Yet, I return.

But Christmas is also that time of the year, when every event manager and pub worth its salt will announce their New Year eve parties. The biggest DJs, belly dancers, unlimited booze and even more debauchery. They even let you rent out a room for the night. I won't term any sex that happens at these parties consensual, because when you are plied with so much alcohol, you have absolutely no inhibitions. What most women go through at these parties can be nothing less than organized rape. And the men know this. Most are attracted to these parties because they know they will either get lucky doing it or record someone else do it.

But surely, this is not what Christmas is, no?
So how did a day that was meant to commemorate the birth of the Son of Man, and the King of kings mutate into an orgy to satisfy our senses?

Go figure.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Fight the good fight, Finish the race. [26/365]

When I first moved to India for my university studies, I was flummoxed at the reaction of my friends and college mates when I'd reveal my spiritual beliefs. They would bob their head in a half nod, half disbelief. I was after all the only Christian guy in a Hindu college.

Later, I'd learn that India is a predominantly Hindu society with a strong dislike towards Christians, especially outsiders migrating to their cities. Christians were a minority here.

As a child that grows up to understand limits, sharing a classroom with Hindus, Muslims, Jains and Sikhs teaches you valuable lessons in living in a multi-cultural society like India.
My closest friend from college was a staunch Brahmin who'd ordinarily not want to be 'mixing' with people other than Brahmins, let alone some beef-eating Christian.

Sometimes, my curious classmates would quiz me on what Christianity really means, and what makes us different.
What made a difference was how I would let my classmates know Christ.
Telling a non Christian how our Lord and Savior is the difference between hell and heaven is no easy task.
Talking about a religion can only do very little to convincing and satisfying spiritual thirst. But practicing what you preach wins over even the most skeptical critic.
I'm encouraged by 1 Corinthians 9:19-27, where Paul encouraged the people of Corinth, exhorting them to adapt, to run and most importantly, not be disheartened or give up.

The single most difficult task of a Christian when explaining about Christ is in being able to rein themselves in. Couple of pointers that has held me in good stead:
Curb your enthusiasm - Many of my christian friends is filled with joy when a non Christian shows interest in learning about Christ. While enthusiasm is important, it is also important that we don't appear as over zealous missionaries out to get our numbers.
Don't trash their beliefs - Whatever they believe in, and whoever they worship, it is important that a Christian remembers that every word that you speak should encourage, not dishearten. Promote growth, not hurt and be sincere not conceited.
Do what Jesus would have done - Evangelize. Not ostracize. Judgement is His. Not ours to dish out. While Jesus Himself lived in an era of many religions, He never trashed any particular religion. He only encouraged their followers to ask the right questions to get the answers.
Never give up - Much like how there will be just one winner in a race, understand that for every much publicized evangelist, there are 20 who have sacrificed all their worldly comforts so that the marginalized have a better chance at life. The prize that awaits them in Heaven is what matters.
Humble yourself - So important because no one would want to learn from you if you were not as humble as Jesus.
Many sects of Christianity and other world religions have leaders who've created an aura about themselves that makes them demi gods. Want to boast? Boast about God.
Ask Him - Duh! For guidance, for the Words that you need to speak. Because we can always go wrong when we rely on ourselves, when we rely on God, you are merely His instrument and cannot go awry.

More than a decade and many life trials later, many of my friends from college are still awed by Christianity. Many of them have visited a church and have been encouraged by the Word of Christ.

Do you have a neighbor, a friend or a colleague who'd like to know about Christ?
Let Philippians 2:8 be your talisman.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Awesomeness [9/365]

"Wow! This is freaking awesome!"
It's not everyday I get to visit a home that had it's own helipad and the other bells and whistles.

My friend from college (who shall remain anonymous), on the other hand was a little embarrassed by the way I was star struck. He even had an army of body guards with automatic weapons. I was thoroughly won over. That is if he was trying to impress me. But ofcourse, he was just happy to spend some time with me. It had been a long while since we met.
He was wealthy, influential and a really nice guy. 

But more importantly, he was deeply spiritual. 
That ticked all the right boxes in my list.

I was awestruck at how a person who studied with me at college and would occasionally talk to me, would in a span of a decade become the kind of person that you'd only read about in Business Times during the week and on Page 3 over the weekends. The transformation from being a gaunt geek to a suave sophisticated entrepreneur was complete.

I got to travel with him in his Rolls Royce, and indulged in a power lunch as well.

Most people I know would kill for a few minutes with such a person. But he was incredibly humble despite all the trappings around him. 
At the end of the day, I was inspired. I was moved at his humility but most importantly something about what he said. 
When I asked him what was the one point in his life when everything changed, he paused for a moment, and told me- 'It was when I surrendered everything to the Lord... and when He accepted me'. Profound, I thought. Coming from the mouth of a staunch Brahmin. 

We Christians like to claim Jesus all for ourselves. Well, the truth is He died for all humanity. And that includes the Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Jains, Scientologists and all the rest in between.

While I agree that Christianity does not promise that you'll be wealthy, healthy and wise, but what it does is peace. The apostle Paul summed it up in Philippians 4:11, when he told us how his faith in Christ has taught him how to be content with much or less, in poverty and plenty.

My good friend did not hit the jackpot as soon as he started believing in Christ. Surely, he did have his moments of despair, but as a person who pinned his faith and hope in Christ, he never gave up. 
He went on to testify how a strong and selfless prayer life is like antibiotics. 'Once prescribed, you must take them for the entire course. Interrupt it for a day and you're letting the devil enter your life again, and perhaps mutate to something even worse.'

Living the lives that we are, in a world that is filled with evil and where we are taught to repay evil with evil, we need our daily prayers. Lest we fall victim to the fallen angel.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Waiting for Christmas...

For Christians around the world, across the ages, December means all things joyful and fresh beginnings. 

My earliest memories of Christmas was Santa, skits at church, lots of gifts (one of two events in a year when I would get gifts) and plenty of cake.
Santa is something kids learn to grow out of, but more than a year ago, when my niece and nephew was visiting me during Christmas, they were ready for Santa with notes and a wishlist of things they would like for Christmas. Not one to let them down, I bought all the things on the list and slid it under their pillow as they slept. The joy on their faces was incentive enough. 
They even preserved letter Santa wrote to them all year. They studied hard, played hard and made their parents proud and happy. After all, that was what Santa had asked of them.

This year, as I searched long and hard for a particular book that I wanted them to have for Christmas, I also made sure Santa appreciated them for the wonderful kids they were. Now, I may be biased about how adorable the children are, but I do know I love them as much as I would love my own children. 

As children, we wait all year for Christmas and the wonderful surprises that are in store. 
As grown-ups, Christmas comes to mean lots of wine, plum cakes and time away from work.

For many others, Christmas is  a gentle reminder that you will need to have booked your tickets for the New year bash. If you haven't already, then what are you waiting for? Christmas?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

...and the meek shall inherit the Heaven

They say a picture speaks a thousand words. 

Looking at the picture on the right, how many did it speak to you?

In an age where violence is both condemned and glorified and where there is no dearth of bad news, this picture may not shock a modern reader. Insensitivised, our numbed conscience won't even register a protest. 

Christianity's greatest verses teach it's followers to show the other cheek and to suffer for your faith. The meek shall inherit the Heaven. And the poor shall have riches above.

What I've seen is it is easier to teach a person how he/she should live in a way that would honor the Lord, but would he/she resist the urge to temptation? 
While we consider ourselves blessed when all is fine, when we aren't suffering and when we have the money/resources that give us all the material comforts that define good living, we rarely correct ourselves or introspect when we are stuck.

I know people who have been struggling for many years, stuck in careers that aren't taking them where they need to be, or with people who are pulling them down. While we are quick to shrug off a short patch of 'bad luck' as a passing phase, when the 'phase' gets longer, they give up hope. They resign themselves to the fate. They simply give up.

Having been on both sides of 'luck'; where at one point I hit the lowest point a human being could hit, and then being able to 'settle down', I see how important God is in our lives. 

Our perception of God is fish-eyed.
We come closer to Him, when we want something.
As toddlers, toys. 
As students, before exams and when the results are about to come out.
As young adults, before interviews and for a good partner.
As an employee, for a bonus or before an interview.... 
I could go on.
He is our genie in folded arms.

While I've already mentioned how the rich consider themselves to be blessed just by virtue of their wealth, the faithful rarely consider themselves lucky when they are meek, poverty stricken and persecuted. What I see all round us is how eager and earnest our poor and meek are to climb up the social ladder. To earn many lakhs, to build an incredible house, own a good car, lots of jewelry, clothes... But when it's their time to go, none of them are really meek, are they?

Friday, October 28, 2011

10% Extortion

How important is God to you?
Do you deem it important to honor Him with the first fruits of your increase/income? Or do you just think tithing is a one way to keep the church off your back?
Do you have a pastor who pesters you to part with more of your money so that the overheads of the church is met?

While Christianity in India has a long history of evangelism and has roots that can be traced back to the Apostles, the past decade or so have seen an explosion of missionaries visiting India to spread The Good News.

I know churches that works with the lowest of the low and strives to make a truly wonderful change amongst the community it works with. Thatched roofs Churches where the faithful gather to hear the Word of God and the pastor does not have a mic but the congregation still picks up every word he says. 

I recently met a pastor, an American, who has been nagging his church members to give 'generously'.
So what's wrong with the picture here?
Here's what-
- The pastor, sponsored by the mother church in the US, earns in a month, probably the equivalent of what a middle class family would earn in an year.
- He stays with his Wife plus 4 kids in a very expensive home in an exclusive neighborhood, besides all the other material trappings that a upper middle class family should possess.
- He insists that his church members pay for the electricity and other overheads of the church. Generously.
- While he quotes scriptures to prove his point and urge his church members to fork out the extra rupee, I remember the famously quoted line: 'Even the devil can quote scriptures'.
His ruse is that true Christians need to support the church financially so that the church can spread. Image that comes to my mind: Like the tentacles of an Octopus.
Now, I don't have anything against missionaries who have put their western way of life on hold for the Indian toilet, but I do find it a huge insult when we have missionaries who come, start churches in a air-conditioned hall of a building and expect us to meet their electricity and living expenses.
While none of the members have voiced out their concerns and their reservations, what I need to understand is why the dear pastor cannot forgo his so generous salary if is truly concerned about the rising overheads.
While much of the US has already been invaded by televangelists, the many wolves in sheep clothing have now turned their sights on India. An emerging market.

Do we really have the right attitude towards God?
When we insist church members to tithe generously, isn't it against the true spirit of giving out of free will?
Why do we let church leaders manipulate the scriptures for their own will?
Does giving money absolve you and complete your duties towards God?

A good family friend of mine, 'donates' a certain portion of their time every week towards bible study. Although they cannot afford to give 'generously', they consider this as their way of offering their talents to the Almighty.

After growing for nearly 2000 years, Christianity has now taken a beating in the past decade because of it's dubious practitioners.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Nothing else matters...

Over the past several weeks, I've seen how people treat you when you get ahead in life.
Failures, that's fine. They will console and comfort you. But it is when you get ahead of them in life that you begin to see the knives coming at you. Some of them even believe you've betrayed them! What you get is a lot of cold shoulders and malicious back-room gossip. All this just because you got a promotion.
We, Indians are not known to be sore losers. I mean, take for instance the way we react when our (mediocre) cricket team loses. While we are swift to kick their collective asses when they win, we love to rub it in when the team wins too.
As a nation, we love to think that we strive for excellence and pride ourselves on being hard working people. But are we really?
While we are taught to aim for everything good in life, very few know how to get there or to be patient while we get there.

Having worked for almost 8 years now, when I achieved my first career milestone earlier this month, I first thanked Jesus. It wasn't a moment too soon or too late. It was perfect! For all the interviews that I failed, and for all the life lessons I've learned over the past couple of years, I knew there was a purpose behind all the pain. While I've seen 'staunch' Christians flocking to God only when they are in pain and in times of good fortune, I've rarely seen any of them surrendering themselves when they hit rock bottom and remaining with Him when they rise. Most people assume a promotion, a good job, a child after a long wait and such milestones are because of their merit. Because they deserved it. Because they worked for it.
I think otherwise. While it is true that Jesus abhors a lazy person, He has also said, I'll never leave you nor forsake you. Not of my merit but of His grace.

What a wonderful promise!
Maybe, we forget to remember this promise.
Or maybe, we use this promise as a crutch rather than a ladder.
Many fair-weather Christians that I know of think they are automatically blessed by virtue of their faith.
If having a stethoscope makes you a doctor, going to a church and swearing by His name makes you christian. But definitely not citizens of His Kingdom.

Myth: When you grow up, people will respect and honor you.
Fact: You get what you give.

Over the past couple of years, I've learned the importance of interceding for the many who are lost.
If you are filled with hatred, remorse and you are unwilling to wait on the Lord, you aren't going to get much further from where you started. It's a vicious cycle. 
Truth is you only reap what you sow.
Too many people, especially Christians think they are blessed if they get a plum promotion or if they get a good job/wife/car/lottery.
But I've learned that none of this really matters at the end of the day. When your time to go comes, it really does not matter if you are a CEO or a lowly student. It does not matter how many Bentley you've owned or the debts that you had. Are you ready to meet your Creator without any of the urges of the world?
Learn to be patient with those who test you. Even on those who cut in front of you in a queue or skip lanes on the road.
Give thanks for the many blessings and life lessons you've learned. Yes, even the bitter ones. Pray for those who've hurt you, and ask for their forgiveness. You will need forgiveness too.

Pray. Praise the Lord. Even with you hit rock bottom.
Love. Even your enemies.
Forgive. Even when they have done the gravest sin against you. Trust me. You will feel a whole lot better when you let go of all that hatred.
While I still consider myself a toddler when it comes to Christianity, I know that with Jesus 
by my side, I'd need nothing else.

Read this note on the internet:
I have a relationship with Jesus.......Not a Religion.
I have a relationship with Jesus.......Not a Ritual.
I have a relationship with my Sisters and Brothers.......Not a Race.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Wolves Undercover!

I had a church 'first' this past Sunday.
The James Bond of Christ!

For the first time in my Church life, I attended a Sunday Mass that had no sermon, no preaching but lots of popular entertainment.
A very popular televangelist, Mr Paul Thangiah is a very popular church leader which thousands thronging the residential area where his church is located.
Smartly dressed ushers help pack the thousands into two levels of seating that resembles a poorly designed 18th Century Shakespearean theater.
The 'service' started a good 20 minutes late but enough time for the crowds to stream in until both the floors are packed to capacity.

I'm thinking 'God, bless us when there is a fire or an emergency' because I hardly see any fire rescue or emergency measures. There could be a thousand people packed in that steaming duplex and no sight of a fire extinguisher or Emergency Exits. No signage. Lots of cabling that you can easily trip over.

But that would be the lesser of my worries, because after nearly an hour of loud pop music, lots of clapping and chanting, we finally get to what I guessed would be a bible reading and sermon. How wrong could I have been? A middle aged lady, who looked more like a socialite and a toast mistress than anything to do with a church, stepped up to ask everyone whether they knew what a hat-trick in Cricket meant! Duh! 'Easy, give the lady a chance', I thought. She later went on to quote the definition of the term and then mentioned that 'we' had achieved an hat-trick in the world of christian hymns. The good reverend had won an award for the third year in a row for his christian songs. He later on went on to release a new CD. That's right, a new CD right in the middle of what was supposed to be Holy Mass. Now, dont get me wrong. I applaud the dude for singing his way into the hearts and souls of millions around the world. He even sang two of his songs off his new CD just to whet our appetite.

As if this was not killing me already, the humble reverend went on to quote how 'certain' people are alleging that he has a resort with 15 rooms that he is enjoying. Presumably, the 'allegations are false and completely baseless'. If he had this kind of resort, he would have given it to his workers to stay in.
Now, not that I have any fore knowledge of what he has or how much he owns, but his speech exonerating himself smacked of guilt. Rule of thumb when faced with allegations that are false, or baseless. Ignore them. Don't defend them. By even mentioning them, you are only acknowledging them. The right reverend certainly proved beyond doubt that he was guilty. I don't know nor do I care of what he is guilty of but he should have just kept his mouth shut.
An hour or something later, he stopped. 

Judging by the thronging thousands, I can certify that the good pastor is certainly popular but then isn't entertainment supposed to be popular? Which one of you would like to attend a sitar recital as compared with a rock concert? I would understand if a church is trying to increase the number of it's faithfuls, but do we really need to play to the gallery to get the pews overflowing?

We filed out in a way that resembled movie goers. The next batch of worshipers were awaiting their turn to be spiritually zapped.
As we flow out into the narrow lane and into the path of impatient drivers, we are accosted by beggars and peddlers of virtually every known commodity that you can buy with whatever money is left over after your generous tithes. Almost out of nowhere, a gentleman 'of the church' walked over, interrupting my train of thought and started a conversation. He correctly figured that I was a visitor to the church and offered to patch me through to the pastor and the help group at 'my zone'. He seemed so genial that I didn't have the heart to tell him that I would never be coming back to this church. Not even if this was the last church and I was the last Christian alive. But four minutes later, we have exchanged numbers and he knows my name, and where I am from. Wasn't I taught not to provide such details to complete strangers? Argh..

Post the traumatic series of events this Sunday, I still think this could have been just an anomaly. Just a bad day to have come to this church. I still remember the sermon and value the takeaway that the messages offer.
Enlightened at how innocent the holy man is, my convictions about televangelists have only hardened. Many preach God, or so they would like to believe, so that they appear to be the James Bond of Christ. C'mon guys, who writes these stuff? Why in the world would Christ need a James Bond?
I've had debates with fellow believers and curious non believers who believe Christ is so much more than what you, I or any other generation ahead of us can ever figure out. He is so much more than all our intelligence put together. We need him, more than he needs us.

In hindsight, I can understand why Satan worshipers and atheists are averse to Christianity.
The believers come away disillusioned and the non believers have more reasons to never give us another chance.

Additional Reading Suggested:

Monday, June 27, 2011

Ready to go in?

At a time, when millions of Christians around the world faithfully fast and earnestly pray, how sure are you of your intentions?

But has the stress of modern living jaded the significance of the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior?

The comforting remembrance that God sent His only Son, to save humanity. To let Him suffer and die for the sins of all humanity.
2000 years ago, he traded sin and shame for hope and salvation. The Hope that we are never alone… Even when the world around us crumbles in anarchy.
Even when personal tragedies overwhelm us, and even when we are anguished at how God could abandon us, He is closest to us.

Growing up, my Dad was my role model. He was the perfect family man; devout Christian, an incredible father and a loving husband.
Several years ago, he lost a well fought battle against cancer. I couldn't stop grieving. I hadn't loved him enough. But he now lives in me. I know that he sees
me and understands me better. Never judging me. Never impatient with me. He is with me whenever I miss him. How much more our Lord Jesus who died for us, just so that He will be in us for eternity.

Death of a family member is a vacuum that can never be filled.
But because He died, You live.

In times of seemingly endless spate of political and economical turmoil, natural calamities and spiritual bankruptcy, our only hope is the hope and salvation that
Christ's death on the Cross and His resurrection has given us. Because Jesus conquered death, we know that we have chance to live again.
How exhilarating would it be if you heard that your loved one has risen? Yes, Jesus did.

At times when money, people and all that the world holds dear gives way under our feet, it is His promise of hope that never fails and salvation that never fades that we can hold on to. A promise to wipe away every sin, every tear, every hurt and every moment of pain. A promise that is rock solid and is guaranteed for eternity and beyond.

Are we the recipients of this hope?
Can we hope to be saved by His precious blood?

'If you confess with your mouth. "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that
God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. With the heart one believes,
resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses, resulting in
salvation.' Romans 10:9-10

Are you at a point in your life where if you are at Heaven's gate tonight, would
He take you in?

Monday, June 20, 2011

What do you need?

Part 5

A five part series dissecting the last moments of Jesus and its relevance on our lives

Given a choice between the two, would you like your needs satisfied or your wants fulfilled?

What is  your greatest need?
A new car? New home? More money? Promotion? High paying Job / Profits from business? Lots of clothes?

If you find yourself nodding to any of these, don't be surprised. So did a billion others too. Strangely, not many people would actually prioritize God in their lists of needs.

In my concluding part of the five part Series on what Jesus Christ really wanted to tell us without telling us, I am going to explore how we can have a New Beginning in Him.

In the cloak of darkness, we are said, Nicodemus visited Jesus. Now, we all know how Jewish leaders hated Jesus. He was a rival that threatened their very existence. Convinced in some way that Jesus does hold the key to eternity and salvation, he appears to have come to meet him out of personal admiration of the divine authority that Jesus possessed. Curious as he was, he wanted Jesus to teach him the way to salvation. Cryptic in His answer, yet poignant, Jesus told him that he must be reborn to be able to see the Kingdom.

At a time when Pharisees are hard pressed to be critical of His teachings and His followers, Nicodemus was confused by His answer. To many Jews at that time and many people in today's society, being born in the 'right' family, is all that mattered. Too many Christians think that being born as a Christian and attending Masses are enough to reach salvation.
Just as Nicodemus figured that by the virtue of his physical birth and his religious status as the leader of Pharisees that he is destined for the kingdom of Heaven, too many Christians think by elaborate prayers and measured tithes, they've booked their 60x40 in the Kingdom of Heaven.

O you, of little faiths! How far from the truth are you?

Reading on, we can also picture the shock and disbelief in the face of Nicodemus as he is asked to do the impossible task of being reborn. Jesus explains how a person must be born of the water and the spirit to be considered eligible to the Kingdom of Heaven.

Perhaps Nicodemus came to Jesus with an agenda to trap Him or to prove Him wrong. Yet maybe, he might have come with a need to be validated.
But Jesus's answer stumps him. Nicodemus struggles with the answers but goes back a changed person. From a haughty and proud Pharisee, he becomes a humble believer.

To all who come to Jesus, there is good news.
The Bible is replete with stories of people who has a need. We all have unending lists of needs. But are we really satisfying our Spiritual needs too?
There's healing available for everyone.

There's healing for everyone..
Faith is all that is required. Learning to exercise faith in Jesus and the willingness to humble yourself is the only thing that can save you.

The problem with religion is that people are constantly trying to complicate things. Followers are led to believe that they must go through a series of rituals to be saved. Jesus tried to simplify Godly living by showing us that He can do it even as a human being. Its doable!

'Here I am, Lord, Use me as you will'
Salvation is yours, the moment you confess this with your heart.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

for my sins.. He got the Kiss

Part 1 
A five part series dissecting the last moments of Jesus and its relevance on our lives

Today, as the planet mourns the passion and death of Jesus, do we really understand what He went through?
Watching the Mel Gibson movie 'Passion of the Christ', I am moved and painfully reminded about the kind of trauma and death that He went through.

Christians around the world declare their undying love and confess that Jesus died for them. Their sins.
But do we really know what those sins were?
Are we really confessing our undying allegiance to Him or are we just as cocky as Peter was, until he denies Jesus three times before the cock crows?
Are we pagans who pay lip service?

Dissecting His passion, Jesus knew that he was sent for the sole purpose of dying for the sins of all humanity. His destiny to be the sacrificial lamp was defined right at the dawn of the humanity, when man fell into sin.
Born of the virgin Mary, He became Flesh of our flesh, Heart of our hearts.
A King born to the lowest strata of the Jewish society, His childhood and life on earth shows him how he was the model son to his earthly parents. Parents who nurtured Him. Never arrogant that He was God, He loved His mom and adored his earthly father just as much as He did His heavenly Father. How many of us can boast of being as humble as He was, fully God and fully human.

The movie revolves around the final hours of Christ Jesus.
It shows us the trauma that He went through, completely aware that He has to be persecuted, tried and crucified, He is pained. He wishes that this does not happen to Him, but obedient even to death, He wants His Father's will to happen. Betrayed by a kiss, to die a death that He wanted to save all of us from.
How many of us would let down his/her own life so that someone else would be saved? How many would do this willingly? Not many, I presume.

There are a dozen plots in this beautifully made movie, devoid of any of the corny dialogues and drama that most contemporary blockbusters are known by, this movie gets beneath the skin of its viewer every time they watch it. Some are moved to watch it again and again, and some are too wimped up to see the gory details of how He suffered for our sins.

Starting with his final moments of earthly freedom at the garden of Gethsemane, He sheds tears of blood traumatized by the enormity of his task ahead. Satan, the quintessential smooth talker tries to talk Him out of His purpose, but Jesus rises to quell all temptation and any thought of backing down. Looking through the six odd minutes at the garden, we see how staunch His resolve is. It looks just too easy to our eyes that have seen a million corny movies where the protagonist is shown to have the resolve to defeat all of earth.
But are we really strong enough to squish smooth talking satan in our lives?

Every Sunday, Christians confess, profess and sing their allegiance to Christ. They partake in the Holy Communion and after the service, they gather to gossip about what they did the past 6 days. Not that I discourage socializing but is gossiping, fellowship? On the way back, they curse at the next motorist who cuts them off. Throughout the service their minds wander, making a mental note of what they will need to do after mass and/or looking at that fashionably dressed 'uncle/aunty'. All in a vain attempt to please God by being physically present, we think that our mere presence will please Him.

Pastors encourage this by not correcting the wayward congregation, for fear that they may withdraw their membership and thereby a steady source of income. Theft is common in some churches. So much so that a church that I go to, reminds their members to carry their bags, valuables and other mentionables with them to the altar, lest they be stolen when you return 4 minutes later.

We falter when our egos are bruised. I've lost way too many friends who've stopped talking to me since their egos have been bruised.
We fall for the false pretension that our wealth will see us through the dry spells of our life.
Coveting for your neighbor's car, spouse, children, wealth, peace and every possible thing that you can think of. We are suckers to our neighbor's lives.
We are even jealous of those who work hard to earn every penny. We want all the good things in their life without any of the bad things.
We want our bosses to recognize us for every bit of good work we do, but not punish us if we goof up.
We are indignant at the co worker who works hard to get ahead and stay ahead. But we won't go the extra mile to work smartly ourselves.
We expect our co workers to stand in awe of us every time we are at work, but make a goof up and you don't want to be made an example.
We want our children to be the best in everything they do. Because you were not. We even want our children to be like the neighbor's children.
We want our parents to be an ATM, spewing out money with no expectation of accountability.

I could go on.. but the point here is, are we really ready to be obedient to His will and patient to His purpose?
Are you?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Life without Laugh

We Christians are a joyless lot!

Preoccupied with maintaining our dignity in the eyes of people who we might never ever see again.
A very good friend of mine is so obsessed with complying with Christianity that he hates Social networking, Rock/Rap music and anything that he thinks is 'un'Christian.

There is a typical Indian superstition where you are supposed to believe that if we laugh excessively, then we will weep in agony very soon.
This is an odd attitude, because being joined to God, who gave us such wonderful emotions as Joy and laughter, we in some way imagine that by being joyful, we are being devious.

Outwardly a firm believer, many of us are hollow inside. Namesakes.
Its okay to have fun!

Every family, big and small. Every human, rich and poor. Every creature, young and old expresses joy and happiness in different ways.

But why do Christians always have a 'constipated look' on their faces when it comes to having fun?!
Laughter is a gift of God and His goodness that will carry us through the dark bylanes of life.

Part of the joy that comes to you when you are reborn in Christ is that you learn to rejoice in the Lord.
You learn to wake up with praise on your lips and smile in your eyes.

No matter how bad the past was, you can always be comforted that your future is in your hands. Do you want to be seen as a person who lives in past and waste all the wonderful joy that God wants you to enjoy!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Royalty Recognized

Question most often heard at traffic stops, airport counters, Q's of any kind and pretty much anywhere in India:
"Do you know who I am?"
Meaning: How dare a low life scum like you have the bladder to question my superiority and not recognize my royal status?

We, as humans feel that we need to be recognized and rewarded for whatever nonexistent power we imagine we possess.
I have seen ordinary people who when they get a windfall of unexpected money or good luck, are transformed overnight into a slave. A slave to money and power.

So the world is filled with people who are pompous and love to throw their weight around. Make their presence felt and authority recognized. But how many times would you hear of a person of absolute Royalty coming down, humbling Himself even to the point of being persecuted and killed for being humble? Sure, we've heard of Rags to Riches, but how many of the Riches to Rags?

We tend to assume that Christ lived a charmed life and in our mundane everyday life, we forget the enormity of His sacrifice.
I had a friend who faced the prospect of being jailed for a offense that he didn't commit. Overnight, he became a shell of his former self. Very humbled, very sad, he could not fathom the fact that he would loose all his freedom and the disgrace and the humiliation that he would need to go through having 'come down' to a life that would be much more lowly than what he was living then.
While he was still grieving and dreading the future, he also began to appreciate the small joys of life.
If you and I, knew that we would be executed by hanging for a crime that we didn't commit tomorrow, would you live your today more piously?
Maybe yes, maybe no, but we will certainly not be the most cheerful people around.
Brooding, we would replay and die a thousand times everyday.

Did Jesus go through all this?
Of course, we know that He was the creator and Alpha and Omega. The Beginning and The End. The Truth. 

Going through Philippians 2:5-11
5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature God,
      did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
      taking the very nature of a servant,
      being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
      he humbled himself
      and became obedient to death—
         even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
      and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
      in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
      to the glory of God the Father.
We see one of the most enduring passages that tell us of how limitless, His love is for us.
But did He dread coming to earth, being born in a Manger, to parents who had the most lowly jobs in Israel then, to live a human life, resisting it's temptations of sin, and flesh. 
Did He ask His heavenly Father to make sure that He lived a charmed life? No. 
Did He invoke His Angels from heaven to come down and destroy all those who persecuted Him.
He could certainly have done this, with just a thought in His heart, but He didn't.

He chose to suffer the long way. Fully Human, Fully God, He could have given in to the temptation of avenging the cruel murder that He suffered. But He didn't.
The Scriptures right from the Old Testament tell us that the coming of Christ was only a matter of time and occasion. Rightly summarized, Jesus is concealed in the Old Testament, Revealed in the New Testament.
When Abraham was asked to sacrifice his only son, we see the enormous grief that he went through. We of course know how everything turned out. But the scriptures show us that we are supposed to be obedient to our Heavenly Father. Even to the point to death. Our Father does not need our dollars. He needs our undying affection. He needs us to acknowledge Him.

Perhaps, if He came in His truest glory with all the Angels and Archangels of Heaven, history would have been different. But then, the Bible would have been just another biography.
Of all the religions across civilizations, Christianity is the only religion where humility is practiced and not just preached. Our Lord, The Creator of all that there is, was and is to come, is a humble God. He is not pompous, not self gratifying, does not seek Himself, is not arrogant, does not find fault, is ever forgiving, always looking for ways to give you another chance in life to redeem yourself from the fires of hell. 

Come to think of it, He does practice all that He preached. 

Maybe it's time we followed our true King, our real Father. After all, He did come for us.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Lord of the Angels and Mosquitoes

As I sat down to pray, SWAT
With a swift thud of my palm, I killed a mosquito.
And then as I sat scrapping out the mangled remains of whatever that survived and its diet of my blood off my palm, I wondered if God had decided that it's time on earth was up.

Matthew 10:29-30 says 'Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without the Father.
But the very hairs of your head are all numbered' 

I have often wondered what it means when a loved one suddenly dies.
Is it God's will that the person dies? And the questions get more painful if the person died young and at the peak of his life, leaving a trail of forever grieving family and friends.
Did He wantonly punish the person by snuffing out a young soul?

It is common to see complete strangers console the grieving kin by quoting the Scriptures. They prefer to lay the the tragedy on God. Some Priests do the same too. God is a convenient scapegoat after all.

We get the picture of a don who is sitting in his throne snapping fingers, signing execution orders against the good guys and supporting and celebrating with the bad guys? Something like a perpetual 'Mogambo'.

Sounds a little too kitschy but I know that this is definitely as far away from the truth as the East is from the West.
My picture of God:
He is yes, sitting at His Throne. But He aint dishing out termination notices against the good guys.
Matter of fact, He isn't even 'killing' the bad guys.
He is waiting, watching patiently wanting the bad guys to confess and repent and the good guys to continue to be a shining example, making sure that they don't fall for the zillion temptations themselves.

To know God in the most intimate way, just as you would read a biography of a famous person, we must read, understand and apply The Bible in our lives.
Find out what God says about himself (Exodus 34:6-7). Then find out what the writers say about Him and His remarkable attributes.(Psalm 19:1-4; Romans 1:16-20; 1John 4:8-10).
Finally take a look at the amazing things God has done (Gen 1:1, 14:10-31; John 3:16)

He is the God of the most awe inspiring fact of life and of the most annoying pest in the world.
He has never caused pain, even though His most prized creation; Us, did.
He never avenges. He waits. He lets us make the right choice so that we can feel proud that we followed the right path instead of forcing the path on us.

Get to know God. He is our God, our Lord, our Rock and Redeemer.
He is not on your tail counting your minutes down. He is carrying you on His shoulder.
God Bless!!

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Religion of Hate

England recently banned radical Islamic preacher and founder of Peace TV, Dr Zakir Naik from entering their countries.
Couple of thoughts that sprang to my mind was, 'What took them so long?' and 'How hypocritical?'
I have a dear friend of mine who follows his speeches very carefully, and I am pretty sure the good Dr has a long list of followers.
So curious and having heard a lot about the charismatic doctor who gave up his practice to follow his calling, I decided to hear him on Peace TV.
First impressions, he definitely needs to fire his costume designer or whoever the heck it is who is in charge of his attire. He looks atrocious in the tuxedo.
And why are his trousers always 4 inches short??
However, once you struggle to move past this visual tragedy, he does come across as a fanatic who has amazing oratorical skills.
Most of the people in the audience looked disinterested and bored. Many of them kids with the Muslim skull cap.
His speeches are filled with logic that appears convulted and barbaric and suddenly I am able to understand why Islamic radicals have been able to run entire societies back to the middle ages in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
As a rule, I believe religious leaders and preachers should not touch politics even with a barge pole, however this guy loves to dabble in pointing fingers. It escapes my understanding how blaming George bush for the 9/11 can help in religious harmony among the brotherhood religions of Christianity and Islam. He supports polygamy and stricter regulations for Islamic women.
However, as much as we like to hate people and ideologies that are opposite ours, the Countries that banned Zakir and the Preacher that got banned must understand that what goes around comes around.. To ban a person or an ideology is a knee jerk way of stepping around the real issue.
Most Western Countries would not dare ban Christian preachers who are radical and 'outspoken'. They would dare not ban artists and politicians that promote religious strife. A case in point is how the West treated the Danish Cartoonist with kid gloves instead of convicting him for causing communal discord. I personally cant imagine any artist going Scot free if he/she were to humiliate Jesus or even less, the Pope the same way.
Zakir Naik, in his true form, protested the British ban in a fit of moral outrage.
But he conveniently forgot how he would ban anti Islamic books, practices and people with a whiff of his fist. So, going by the same measure, he shouldn't complain when the British government is trying to banning him.
He is upset his freedom of expression is being stifled. He calls his television network 'Peace TV'. A complete misnomer, since it has nothing that promotes peace nor has anything that resembles harmony among humanity in any of its programs. Of course I can understand that Dr Naik needs to play to the galleries but how can a channel that is a platform to portray Islam as the most divine of religion promote peace. Of the half a dozen Christian channels that are broadcast, not one of them trashes other religions the way Peace TV does. This channel is nothing but a Muslim supremacist media. By questioning the legitimacy of other religions he is not doing Islam any favor.

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His views on freedom are outrageous and this would be an understatement. He is all for equal rights for Muslims in non Islamic countries but not the reverse. Why? Because Islam is the right religion. Or so, Dr Naik professes eloquently. And if you think otherwise, he would muffle your debate with Islamic rhetoric.
As an Indian, living in India, if not for all his education and the many many liberties that he enjoys and could be taking for granted, he forgot that there are many reasons why India has survived several centuries of oppression and occupation is because we as a Civilization believe that there are many paths and different ways to get to our common goal; Eternity.
In a planet that is armed to the teeth and baying for blood, we can do without preachers and politicians that are hypocritical and can steer clear of each others profession.
We've had far too many fundamentalist and great orators that have created enough divisions and strife in humanity and its not even a century since all this happened ! At the rate things are going, we are heading to a nuclear showdown. And none of the Islamic BS Dr Naik preaches is going to immunize all the Islamic brotherhood from the same destruction that humanity will face.

We must do away with preachers of hate rhetoric. Religious Tolerance and Unity. Is that too much to ask?
Religion was supposed to bring in Harmony and Peace. Where did we go so wrong?

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Let he who is without sin...

Catholics are a worried lot nowadays.

In scandals that are rocking the highest echelons of the 'purest' form of Christianity with repercussions that could shake the faith of a million.

Rev. Lawrence C Murphy, who is at the center of the latest scandal is accused of molesting hundreds of deaf boys at a School for deaf in Wisconsin.

What rattles the victims more is that Pope Benedict XVI, formerly Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had received letters about Murphy in 1996 which mentioned that the deaf community "needed a healing response from the Church". The Vatican sat on the case, deliberated but by the time, Murphy died, he died a priest.

The victims are outraged.
They wanted the tainted priest jailed and punished for his sins. And I believe the anguish is genuine.

As a young boy, I have been molested several times over a period of 4 years, and have lived with the agony, shame and trauma. I find it hard to trust people off hand and can't forgive easily either.

Sin is global. Forgiveness is Universal.

Victims of sexual abuse seldom forgive. Child Abuse is particularly traumatic, because the victim is unaware of what is happening to him/her, is incapable of defending themselves and is filled with the shame and hatred after the act.
I remember how I filthy I felt after I was raped as a 11 year old. I spat on my hands and my body to get rid of the smell. My mom didn't believe me when I told her I was raped. I've had nightmares for many years after that. I didn't know what I did wrong to warrant some stranger to take me home and rape me. I felt intense guilt for having gone to that playground that day.
For years after that, I would abuse myself physically to get rid of the guilt. I have grappled with trust and phobias.

As an adult, when I had to visit the locality near that playground I panicked. Memories of the act came rushing back. I vowed to never be back. I wished if I could ask that man why he did that to me, I would have asked him why he took away my innocence. I would have liked to have him behind bars. I wanted closure.

A decade later, I recall the trauma when I read reports about child abuse in the Church. Bibliographically, the Church is the Body of Christ. It is a living monument of how vast and encompassing God's love.

He wants us to live a simpler life. A life that looks up to Him in prayer, humility and gratitude.

Somewhere down the line, the Church has fallen. As guardians of our faith, the priests have fallen. Deep into a sin that defiles something that is supposed to cleanse.

2000 years ago, in the 33 years of His Life, Jesus encompassed love, forgiveness and mercy. He came to earth, to save the sinner. He dined with the sinner, Forgave the adulterer and Had mercy on all who didn't deserve it.

A placard that a lady recently held up as part of the protest read, 'If Jesus was here today, He would be with the victims'. Noble thought. But we are all missing the point. Jesus would have had mercy. He would have wanted us to have mercy on the sinners among us too, just the way He had on the Roman guards who crucified Him. Knowing that they were crucifying a Man who committed no sin, did they ever flinch? Not one stopped the crucifixion. Though Jesus cried out in pain, though He cried droplets of blood and bled water, His compassion and ability to forgive converted the heartless guards into staunch followers of Christianity.

Today, amidst all the cries to persecute the Vatican, all I can hear are a lot of people who have taken the moral high ground much like the scribes and pharisees who brought a woman who was caught red handed, to test Him. They ofcourse didn't really bring her because they were ridding the society of all evil, they just wanted to know how liberal He was in matters of the law of God. Reading their minds, and knowing their hearts perfectly well, He asked the truly righteous and sinless among them to throw the first stone in condemnation. Not one came forward. None could claim to have not sinned. He didn't condemn the woman either but forgave her, and asked her to "sin no more", lest she burn in hell.
Where were the men who committed adultery with her?

I notice it is equally easy to take the moral high horse now. We have self proclaimed guru's and moral policemen who choose to accuse the 'guilty' and endorse the 'righteous'.

'Judge not and you shall be judged by the same yardstick..'
If we were to let God judge us for all the sins and transgressions that we committed, the world would have been a nature reserve with none of us here.

He forgave all our sins.
Imagine the magnitude of the compassion!

By coming down to earth, taking the form of a baby, born in a the lowest form in the most humblest of locations to parents with royal lineage but modest living. Living through trials and temptations for 30 years when He could have easily 'made an entrance' with Angels and Archangels. He could have easily wiped away the people who mocked and ridiculed Him with a thought, but He persevered. He toiled and did things the hard way. He died the harshest way a man could. Yet, He had nothing but the greatest of compassion and love for all of us. He didn't die so that we can have something to fill into the 'Religion' field in forms. He died to pay for all our sins for all time to come. For all the sins of all the people for the last 2000 years and until He comes again. He died so that we can all say: "I am forgiven". He lives because we are not forgotten. He lives because we have an eternity to look forward to.

If as our Creator, who yearns for us to come back to Him and repent for the mess that we do, He is infinitely merciful, why can't we as mere cohabitants of this momentary life, learn to forgive people who falter.

It is not as if sexual immorality and sin didn't exist, it did. But He chose not to wipe us out of the face of the earth, because we are meant to look up to Him. Because we are meant to forgive and love. Jesus came, not because He had less work to do up in Heaven, but because He was on a mission to save us from hell. If we as humans feel obliged to return a favor that another person does, why are we so hesitant to forgive when another sins?

He could have certainly flooded the earth and snuffed out all life. He did that once but His grief of having destroyed something He created with His unending Love and His deep desire to see all His children come back to Heaven keeps us here.

When are we going to look inward? When are we going to see the planks in our eyes before offering to lift the speck of another's eye?

Being called a Christian, a Muslim or a Hindu is meaningless if we don't practice Universal Love and Forgiveness.

While it is true that we need closure, I doubt if true closure will ever come from seeing the perpetrator behind bars. I learnt that you will be able to forgive only when surrender your pain and trauma in humility and forgiving the person(s).

For the rest, 'let he who is without sin, cast the first stone...'
Go ahead forgive that person who sinned against you today, you owe Him.

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