Monday, March 23, 2015

Fear Of Death; Are You A Genuine Christian?



            Some fear death and consider it evil. In contrast, the illustrious Greek philosopher Plato, who lived much before the Lord Jesus, ridiculed mankind’s fear of death, “No one knows whether death may not be the greatest of all blessings for a man, yet men fear it as if they knew that it is the greatest of evils.1

            The Bible teaches that death is not to be feared. Apostle Paul welcomed death (Philippians 1: 21). Psalm 23 urges its believers to not fear death (verse 4). Having been seated at the heavenly realms (Ephesians 2: 6), Christians should eagerly await their death (Philippians 3: 20-21).

            If Christians fear death, it is because they remain ignorant of the biblical teaching behind life and death. When a Christian fears death he remains spiritually weak.

            So our question is, “If a Christian fears death is he a Christian?” Or, “Do genuine Christians fear death?” 

            Genuine Christians (those with mature faith in Christ) welcome death. Genuine Christians understand that they are crucified with Christ; they no longer live but Christ lives in them and their life is lived by absolute faith in Christ (cf. Galatians 2: 20). In other words, these Christians would have entrusted their life – all of it – to Christ.

            In my blog written in 2013, I had expressed my lack of fear of death, “Until I experienced God through HIS Word and deed, I was fearful, apprehensive and didn’t desire death. But when I believed in Christ and became aware of the glorious life that awaited me, the fear of death vanished. Today, I welcome death anytime, for when I die I will be with my God forever. The fear of death is dead in my life (cf. Psalm 23: 4; Romans 8: 38-39; 2 Corinthians 5: 8; Philippians 1: 21-23), for death is the gateway to a glorious eternity with God.” 2

            Am I a genuine Christian because I do not fear death?

            Many non-christians do not fear death. So lack of fear of death cannot be a primary criterion to measure the genuineness of a Christian.

            Christians would not cease to be Christians because they fear death. If a Christian fears death, we ought to examine the extent of his faith in Christ.

            A common deterrent to faith is wealth. A Christian’s absolute faith in Christ could be suspect during his prosperity. 

            Wealth and faith are mutually antagonistic. A wealthy Christian would not be too concerned about the financial welfare of his family, even if he were in his deathbed. On the other hand, a poverty stricken Christian or a sole breadwinner-christian would worry for his family’s welfare.

            Wealthy Christians ought to ask themselves whether they trust Christ or their wealth. The Bible teaches that it would be difficult for a wealthy Christian to trust Christ completely (cf. Matthew 19: 24 & Mark 10: 25).   

            So should we infer that wealthy Christians cannot trust Christ completely? How then can wealthy Christians trust Christ totally?

            Wealthy Christians cannot be attached to their wealth (cf. Matthew 6: 24, 19: 21-22). Nothing should come between Christ and the Christian (cf. Matthew 19: 29; Romans 8: 38-39).

            Wealthy Christians could be champions of faith in Christ. These wealthy Christians either give sacrificially or do not hesitate, at any point in time, to give up all they own for the sake of Christ.

            Uncertainty is another deterrent to faith in Christ. Those who fear death could be plagued by uncertainties.

            A couple of common questions predicated on uncertainty are:

            1. Will I really go to heaven when I die?

            While asking this question, the Christian doubts his status as a Christian. He doubts the promises offered in the Bible. More importantly, he doubts the Lord Jesus Christ.

            2. What will happen to my family when I die?

            This question is loaded with unbelief in God. This question implies that, if I live, I will do all that I can to support my family. This is incorrect.

            God enables us to care for our family. We support our family only when God blesses our life with health, sanity and wellness. Superficially it may appear that we are doing our utmost to care for our family, but we cannot do anything without God’s blessings.

            When God has enabled us to provide for our family, why should we doubt that God would not care for our family upon our death? Excessive concerns about our family, disputes God’s presence and goodness.

            On a side note, some Christians may not fear death but they may fear the manner in which they may die; paranoia of a long and painful death may haunt some. This fear may be unnecessary, since our death may or may not be painful.

            We fear because we forget that God is in total control over everything, and that God will help us even if we are to go through pain. Suffering Christians who are strong in their faith would testify to this fact.

            How do Christians overcome their fear of death?

            Faith in the Lord Jesus should replace our uncertainties and our security in material possessions. Let us totally trust God that HE will usher us into heaven because we believe and worship the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us totally trust God to care for our family even if we were to die, because God cares for us while we live.

            When we totally believe in Christ, we would not fear death. If our faith is not strong, we could earnestly ask Lord Jesus to increase our faith (Luke 17: 5). Amen.



Endnotes:

1 Written by Plato in his work “Apology,” (universally known as Plato’s ‘Apology’ of Socrates), p27.


2 http://rajkumarrichard.blogspot.in/2013/08/death-suicide-and-euthanasia.html

Monday, March 16, 2015

Could Christians Worship In Temples & Mosques? (Pope Francis Worshiped in a Mosque)


            Whether Christians could worship in mosques and temples is not a moot point, because Pope Francis has provided a panoramic backdrop through his worship at an Istanbul Mosque. Since we are wired to follow our leaders, we could think that worshipping in mosques and temples is acceptable to the God of the Bible.

            Christians’ worship in mosque or temples is predicated on our visit to these sacred places. So we should primarily clarify if Christians could visit a sacred place of another faith.

            Quite a few Christians believe that it’s a sin to visit a temple or a mosque. This thought cannot be blatantly dismissed.

            Let’s examine a couple of reasons cited by Christians to discourage visits to the sacred places of other faiths:

            A. Demonic – I was once invited to a Mormon tabernacle to defend historic Christianity with the local Mormon leadership. Friendly Christians cited the demonic presence in the Mormon tabernacle to actively discourage me from visiting the Mormon sanctuary. 

            B. Sacralization of the Impious – Removal of shoes (or wearing a headscarf / hijab) in a sacred place is cited as an act of reverence. Visitors are mandated to remove their shoes and / or wear headscarf in the sacred place of other faiths. Contextually, removal of shoes or wearing a headscarf by a Christian is considered a bad testimony, since the act affirms the sacredness of the place. In other words, the act reveres an unholy place.

            However, there are Christians who visit sacred places of other faiths. I visited a mosque when I accompanied an evangelist of a distinguished Christian ministry.

            Apostle Paul could have visited the idols at Athens (cf. Acts 17: 16, 23). He was taken to Areopagus (the hill of Greek god of war, Ares) from where he delivered his famous ‘The Areopagus Address’ (Acts 17: 22-31).

            Likewise, renowned Christian minister D. L Moody preached at the Mormon tabernacle in 1871 and 1899. In recent times, Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias preached the gospel at the Mormon tabernacle. Assemblies of God leader George O. Wood and Southern Baptist leaders Richard Land and Albert Mohler have also spoken at Utah before the LDS community.

            So Pope’s visit to an Istanbul mosque, per se, seems not an aberration.

            If the demonic is a valid reason to not visit a sacred place, then consider an open air evangelistic meeting. Would there not be demons in a large terrain where Christian evangelistic meetings are held? Don’t we attend such meetings?

            If we argue that demons in the terrain of an evangelistic meeting are cast out by prayer, then why not a visit to a sacred place be accompanied by a prayer that cleanses the place of demons or at least offers us protection?

            Moreover, demons could be at places we tend to visit (e.g. restaurants, super markets etc.). But that does not deter us from visiting those places or even sharing the reason for our hope in Christ to our non-christian friends in those places.

            Similarly, removal of shoes or wearing a headscarf need not necessarily subscribe to ‘sacralization of the impious.’ These are merely adherence to the rules of the authorities.

            In many parts of the world, Christian children study in schools and colleges belonging to non-christians. These Christian children may be required to participate in the assembly where prayers and rituals belonging to that particular religion are practiced.

            Participation of the Christian children in the assembly merely indicates adherence to the rules of the institution. It certainly does not indicate a conscious acceptance of the prayer or the ritual. Christian children remain Christians due to their non-affirming presence during such prayer and rituals.

            If a mere visit to these places does not hurt a Christian, then, in the same manner, a visit to a sacred place need not necessarily and adversely affect a Christian.

            However, if in doubt, Christians need not visit the sacred places of the other religions, although such a visit need not necessarily harm the Christian.

            Our focal point, however, is Pope’s worship in the Istanbul mosque. The Vatican termed Pope’s worship as a ‘moment of silent adoration.’1 So we ask:

            1. Which God did Pope Francis adore in the mosque?

            2. Was it necessary for the Pope to adore God while in a mosque? 

            Let us presuppose that the phrase ‘silent adoration’ referred to Pope’s adoration of God. If the context is an indicator (Pope’s presence in the mosque) and if the Pope does not offer clarity as to which God he adored from the mosque, we could assume that he prayed to Allah.

            An act of worship from inside the mosque is normatively directed to the native deity or could be assumed to have been directed at the native deity. In this case, the native deity of a mosque is Allah.

            Historic Christianity believes in the one living God. In fact, there can be only one God or only one absolutely perfect being or one maximally great being.

            The Bible categorically rejects the presence of other gods (Isaiah 45: 5a; Exodus 20: 3) and mandates worship of the only living God. Hence, Pope’s ‘moment of silent adoration’ in the mosque is unnecessary and uncalled for, for it is a sin against God, and has the potential to mislead naïve Christians.

            Some may argue that Pope prayed to the God of the Bible from the mosque. Why would Pope Francis desire to pray to the God of the Bible from the mosque?

            However, this issue was settled through Al Jazeera’s report that Pope Francis took part in a Muslim prayer as a mark of respect to Islam.2 So it’s quite evident that Pope did not pray to the God of the Bible from the mosque.

            To conclude, we could show our utmost respect and love to our non-christian brethren in more ways than one. But we need not participate in their religious practices or worship from their sacred precincts (cf. Acts 15: 29; 1 Corinthians 10: 18-22, 28).

            Pope's prayer in the mosque could lead weak Christians to do the same and be destroyed (cf. Deuteronomy 6: 14, 8: 19, 11: 16; 1 Corinthians 8: 11). The Pope then is responsible for the destruction of the weak Christians for he has sinned against Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 8: 9-13). 

            The Bible says that in whatever we do we are to glorify God. This essentially refers to abstinence from participating in the religious practices of the non-christians (1 Corinthians 10: 21-23).

            The Pope may have justified himself if he had merely visited the mosque without participating in the Islamic prayer. However, his participation in the Islamic prayer provides us an opportunity to address this significant aspect, so that naïve Christians do not get ambushed into destruction. Amen.



Endnotes:

1 http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-francis-prayer-at-blue-mosque-exactly-the-same-as-benedict-xvi-21959/


2 http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/11/pope-francis-prays-istanbul-blue-mosque-20141129122643736106.html

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Foolishness of Lent


            Sacrifice is at the heart of Christianity.

            Christ sacrificed HIS life to save mankind of sins, provided mankind believe in HIM. So Christ’s sacrifice should motivate our sacrifice; not just once or twice but throughout our life.

            The Bible mandates the Christian to not live for himself but to be crucified with Christ and live for Christ alone, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2: 20, NIV).

            Lent, however, is at the heart of Catholicism.

            Catholic tradition advocates lent observance (fasting/self-denial/sacrifice of food or certain bad habits and attitudes for a 40 day period preceding Easter). Since Protestantism succeeded Catholicism, some protestant denominations retained the practice of observing lent. Interestingly, the Bible does not mandate or mention lent observance. 

            This then is the good, bad and ugly of lent.

            Sacrifice is at the heart of lent’s goodness.

            Make no mistake, lent could be good. The goodness of lent observance is the practice of self-denial. Since Bible mandates self-denial, relinquishing food or bad habits or bad attitudes should be commended within a certain context.

            False teaching is at the heart of lent’s badness.  

            It’s deplorable when lent observance creates a false dichotomy in Christianity vis-à-vis good and bad Christians. To teach that those observing lent are good Christians and those not observing are bad Christians is a rank false teaching.

            Would a Christian’s fast during lent erase his sins of omission and commission? No. Christians’ good deeds cannot erase bad deeds, for only God can forgive our sins, provided we repent and believe in Christ.

            Of what good is fasting if we continue to disobey God while we fast?

            Of what good is quitting a vice (alcohol, cigarettes, anger, lying etc.) if we intend to continue that very vice after lent? Isn’t it hypocritical of us to quit a vice during lent, but our mind is set on continuing that very vice after lent?

            Temporary self-denial during lent does not make a man good when he intends to continue to pursue that which he quit, after lent. Permanent self-denial is good, temporary self-denial is not. A temporary self-denial, unless intended towards permanency, is useless.

            Lent observance is not intended to receive material blessings from God. The Lord Jesus said, “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6: 33, NIV).

            Lent observance does not mandate God’s blessing upon a Christian’s life, since Christianity does not predicate salvation or blessings on good works (cf. Romans 5: 17). Therefore, God will certainly draw us closer to HIM when we strive to receive HIM and HIS righteousness into our lives, not temporarily, but permanently, even lent notwithstanding.

            Christians cannot become good in God’s sight when they fast for wrong reasons even during lent. Conversely, Christians who do not fast during lent, but seek God always, do not become bad Christians.

            Therefore, lent is rendered foolish when we observe lent either mindlessly or to gain God’s blessing or religious superiority over fellow Christians.

            Ritualism is at the heart of lent’s ugliness.

            Rituals are Satan’s deceptions to move us away from God, for we tend to focus more on the rituals than God.

            Ritualistic lent observance where the body observes lent but the mind is disconnected from Christ yields nothing whatsoever to the Christian. To ritually fast during lent without spending quality time with the Lord Jesus is to render lent observance foolish and worthless.

            Similarly, ritualistic church attendance does not spiritually benefit a Christian. Christians are not meant to ritually attend church every week, instead they carry Christ-crucified in them (cf. Galatians 2: 20) to worship HIM in spirit and in truth in the community of believers.

            Ritualistic prayers in the morning and night do not get us any closer to God if our life between those prayers is as deplorable as that of the ungodly. Ritualistic bible reading will not draw us any closer to God if we do not love God with all our heart, soul and mind.

            So, if we observe lent as a ritual (as a duty), then our lent observance would be false and hypocritical. Lent would then be rendered foolish.

            How then could we make lent glorify God?    

            Observing lent doesn’t make you a better Christian any more than going to McDonalds makes you a delicious hamburger. Christianity is not about achieving greatness; Christianity is about worshipping God and serving others while being humble and sacrificial.

            A Christian is good when he believes and remains in the Lord Jesus. Lent is merely a means to a Christian’s growth in holiness by virtue of his dedicated devotion to the Lord. Observing lent would benefit the Christian if his sacrifices are solely intended for him to remain and grow stronger in Christ.

            So the only ritual that blesses a Christian is his devoted and constant (24x7) fellowship with Christ. When a Christian is devoted to Christ, he will see the world through God, and his blessings (not material blessings) will be immense.

            What’s the purpose behind self-denial or fasting? Isn’t it to spend more time with God?

            Lent would glorify God when we spend more time with HIM in praying (speaking and listening to God), reading and studying the Bible, doing deeds that would glorify God. Significantly, lent should accelerate our lifetime growth in Christ.      

            Observing lent would be a blessing to the Christian if he/she uses this opportunity to permanently remove bad habits or attitudes. To reiterate, we would be utter hypocrites to quit a bad habit during lent and then pursue it vigorously after lent. We abuse God’s grace while we practice this hypocrisy.

            The greatest worship of the living God is to live a sacrificial life continually, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” (Romans 12: 1, NIV).


            So it’s up to us. We could either render lent foolish or meaningful. Remaining in Christ should be our only priority whether we observe lent or not. Observing lent does not matter. Christ matters, for HE is the heart of our life. Christ is our life. Amen.  


Monday, March 2, 2015

Was Mother Teresa Guilty? Responding To Ghar Wapsi & Conversion Controversy In India


            It’s a widespread firm notion among the resolute Hindu community that Christian missionaries in India have been converting people to Christianity under the guise of service. This accusation has now been leveled by the leadership of Hindu community against Mother Teresa – arguably the most popular face of contemporary Christianity.

            Mother Teresa founded ‘Missionaries of Charity’ – a prominent Catholic social service organization that cares for the needy - children, sick, dying and destitute.

            The Christian community in India is a meager minority. However, the minority status did not prevent Christians from establishing hospitals, schools & colleges, and care-homes for the needy.  

            Having said this, let us look beyond the allegation of conversion to establish a few undeniable facts.

            First, the accusations highlight a definite need for these social services in the Indian context. Indians needed social care. Even today, a demand exists for proficient service organizations in India.

            Second, in response to the need, the Christian missionaries and the Christian community in India established social service organizations. Notably, the allegations of the Hindu leadership have graciously granted the Christian missionaries the due recognition of blessing the needy Indians.

            Significantly, the Indian community, notwithstanding religious persuasions, was benefited by these services. In other words, these service institutions, although established by Christian missionaries, served the needs of Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists etc.

            Third, these service organizations were government authorized ventures. They were established by the Christian missionaries after obtaining formal authorizations from the governing authorities.

            Notably, the governing authorities in India were not a Christian majority at any given point in time. So, the majority Hindu community did allow the formation of these service ventures.

            Finally, if the governing authorities had a compelling need to terminate these service institutions established by the Christian missionaries, they would have done so. Nothing could have prevented the government from terminating any institution. Hence, the continued existence of these institutions emphasizes their utmost credibility in their specific social service domain – healthcare, education etc.

            So the following facts have been established:

            1. There was a need for social services in the Indian society.

            2. The Christian community catered to the need by establishing the required service institutions to bless the Indian community without any religious barriers.

            3. These service institutions were government authorized ventures. The majority Hindu community allowed the formation of social service organizations founded by Christian missionaries.

            4. The continued existence of these services emphasizes the credibility of these social service organizations in their specific service domain.

            As a stark layman in Indian constitution, allow me to briefly address the subject of religious conversion in India by examining the background:

            1. Indian constitution does seem to allow a person to practice and propagate his religion, for Article 25(1) of the Indian constitution states that “Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this Part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion.” 1

            2. In the past, this very article, albeit contextually, has been diversely interpreted to deny religious conversion e.g. Rev. Stainislaus v. State of Madhya Pradesh, (AIR 1977 SC 908). 2 In other words, “The Supreme Court has unequivocally declared that the right to propagate does not mean the right to convert.” 3

            3. “Ghar Wapsi” (home-coming) is a reconversion drive undertaken by Hindu religious organizations. Media has widely reported this phenomenon, especially the recent statement that in the next 10 years 5 million Christians would be reconverted to Hinduism.4

            Significantly, the Supreme Court of India, as a mark of approval of reconversion, has ruled that those reconverting to Hinduism from Christianity would be entitled to reservation benefits.5

            4. Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, stated that “each person has an “undeniable right to retain or adopt” any faith.” 6 The Prime Minister has also condemned violence against any religion, “We cannot accept violence against any religion on any pretext, and I strongly condemn such violence. My government will act strongly in this regard” 7

            In a nutshell, these background instances posit that…

            A. …any Indian can freely practice any religion.

            B. …any Indian can freely propagate his religion.

            C. …Indians are treading murky ground, if they aim to convert people. Why? The aspect of conversion seems to firmly reside in a disputable realm. On one hand, it seems that people can freely convert based on their conscience, but on the other hand it seems that people should not convert. There seems to be no clarity, at least to a layman such as myself.

            Now let us approach the aspect of conversion from a theological standpoint.

            First, people born into a Christian home or a non-Christian home are not different. They are unbelievers, to begin with. Anybody who professes to be a Christian now was an unbeliever. 

            Every Christian, their earthly citizenship notwithstanding, is a converted Christian. An Indian, American, Chinese or an Arab could be born into a Christian home. Mere birth into a Christian home does not make anyone a Christian.

            So nobody is a born-Christian. Christians can only be born-again Christians (John 3: 1-21). A person is born-again as a Christian when he/she consciously accepts the Lord Jesus as God and Savior.

            Thus, a person could only be born-again into Christianity. A person is never a born-Christian. So every Christian is a converted Christian.

            Second, true conversion happens only when man realizes his sinfulness and believes in the Lord Jesus, who through HIS perfect life, sacrifice, resurrection and ascension saved man from his/her sins. Thus the sinful man believes and loves the Lord Jesus.

            Man loves God for who God is – it was God who assumed the form of man, died and resurrected to save man from his sins. Man who loves God to derive material benefits is, in essence, in love with material benefits. Such a man does not love God.

            So a true conversion happens for spiritual reasons and not earthly reasons. Conversion into a religion for material benefits cannot be a true conversion.    

            Third, true conversion is an act of God who initiates people into Christian life (John 3: 8, 16: 8-11). I may provide reasons as to why I am a Christian and not a Hindu. Similarly, Mother Teresa may have provided reasons as to why she reckoned Christ as God or Christianity as the only true religion. That was her spiritual responsibility, as much as it is every Christian’s spiritual responsibility to offer reasons for the hope we have in Christ (1 Peter 3: 15).

            It was virtually impossible for Mother Teresa to have converted anyone into Christianity. Neither can you or I convert anyone into Christianity. So Mother Teresa was not guilty of conversion. The Indian constitution does seem to allow a Christian to offer reasons for the hope he/she has in Christ.

            Converting anyone into Christianity is an act initiated by God and not man. It is God who initiates people into Christian life. When God initiates, man merely repents and believes in God.  

            Finally, when true conversion occurs, the Christian loves God more than his own life. In other words, a truly converted Christian will not reject God even if his life is under threat or for the sake of material benefits. A Christian who truly converts and genuinely falls in love with God, if he/she remains in Christ, will not reject Christ.

            A Christian who rejects Christ may have been a true Christian to begin with, but over a period of time, if he/she does not remain in Christ, then there is every possibility that he could reject Christ for the sake of the world. Those who remain in Christ cannot reject HIM under any circumstances be it pain, pleasure or persuasion.

            So a program such as Ghar Wapsi could be successful against those Christians who do not remain in Christ. Those who do not remain in Christ would reject Christ when they encounter Ghar Wapsi.

            Those who remain in Christ would not fear death; they would not fear man. Those who remain in Christ would love God over and above anything and everything. Those who remain in Christ would rather die in the name of Christ than live by rejecting Christ (Philippians 1: 20-21; cf. Galatians 2: 20). 

            Ghar Wapsi cannot succeed against Christians who remain in Christ.

            Christians’ primary responsibility is to God and secondarily to man. While we respect and submit to our earthly rulers, we should, in gentleness and respect, offer many valid reasons for the hope we have in Christ.

            As a good Christian, I assume, Mother Teresa would have offered her reasons for the hope she had in Christ. Offering reasons for the hope we have in Christ does not convert anyone, for conversion is initiated by God and not man.

            This then is our sine qua non; we will, by being subject to public order, morality, health, and other provisions of Indian constitution, offer reasons for the hope we have in Christ. We will be good witnesses for Christ.

            Since conversion is initiated by God and accepted by man, one man cannot convert another.

            If we are to come in harm’s way for having been a good witness for Christ or for having offered the reasons for our hope in Christ, then so be it.

            Daniel 3: 16-18 is as much a linchpin of Christianity as John 3:16. So I conclude with these verses, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3: 16-18, NIV).

            And all God’s people said, “Amen.”



Endnotes:

1 http://www.constitution.org/cons/india/p03025.html

2 http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/conversion-and-freedom-of-religion/article6716638.ece

3 http://www.thehindu.com/sunday-anchor/propagation-without-proselytisation-what-the-law-says/article6711440.ece

4 http://www.charistimes.com/next-10-years-5-million-christians-reconverted-hinduism/

5 http://www.firstpost.com/india/sc-ruling-on-reconversion-its-a-stamp-of-approval-for-ghar-wapsi-says-vhp-2126461.html

6 http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/my-government-will-ensure-complete-freedom-of-faith-modi/article6905042.ece


7 Ibid.

Monday, February 23, 2015

A Christian’s Letter To ISIS (A Christian’s Response To ISIS)


Dear ISIS,

            It’s exceptionally difficult to use an endearment term ‘dear,’ for you mercilessly traumatize and slaughter human beings. I am a Christian, and I write to you since you sadistically persecute the Christian community.

            You brutalize women sexually that forces them into hospitals.1 You are merciless with children. You beat, enslave, crucify, and use them as child soldiers! 2

            You mindlessly and cruelly deploy mentally challenged children as suicide bombers. 3 How can you not show mercy to mentally challenged children? Don’t you realize that they may not be able to understand the sadistic deeds you are forcing them into?

            I strive to love you with the love of Christ. My Bible teaches me to love you, for it instructs Christians to bless and pray for those who hate, kill and curse us (Matthew 5: 44, Luke 6: 28, Romans 12: 14).

            The Bible encourages me to pray for you. I pray you would realize your cruelty towards your brothers and sisters and refrain from hurting them anymore. Most surely, my fellow Christians are already praying towards your healing and deliverance.

            Please stop your barbarous and inhuman deeds against mankind.

            But is this even a legitimate possibility? Can you refrain from massacring people while you continue to receive support from your community? 4 Muslim women are offering their bodies to satisfy your sexual cravings a.k.a. Jihad Al-Nikah (sexual jihad),5 thus motivating you into greater evil.

            How could you cease your harmful existence if you are politically motivated? Rumors posit your creation by the British, American and Israeli intelligence agencies.6 

            Is it possible for you to cease the proliferation of unmitigated violence when you cite your religious texts as a source for violence? Intriguingly, you swear by your god Allah to justify your horrific deeds against mankind.

            Egyptian journalist Ibrahim Issa said this about you, “Whenever ISIS carries out an act of barbarity, such as decapitations, throat slitting, or the burning of a person alive, as they did today, various sheiks tell you – if they even bother to say anything – that this has nothing to do with Islam, that Islam is not to blame, and whatever. But when the people of ISIS perpetrate slaughter, murder, rape, immolation, and all those barbaric crimes, they say that they are relying on the sharia. They say that this is based on a certain hadith, on a certain Quranic chapter, on a certain saying of Ibn Taymiyyah, or on some historical event. To tell the truth, cavernous everything that ISIS says is correct…” 7

            If your insanity is fuelled by a certain Hadith or a Quranic chapter or other Islamic traditions, I can only pray for you and urge more prayers for you.

            Honestly, I pray more for the lives you have irreparably damaged. I love them dearly.

            You have rendered multitudes into unfathomable grief and despair. Their lives are perpetually transformed. Joyous lives are now in utter anguish. They need our prayers and support. They will receive our deepest sympathies and warm affection in thoughts, words and deeds.

            I pray these families would seek God during their distress. Notwithstanding man’s support, these families will receive, in abundance, the comfort and encouragement of The Triune God – The Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Of this I am sure.

            Now please give me your undivided attention, ISIS.

            If the one and true living God allows you to exist, no matter how many Christians you continue to massacre, Christianity will continue to exist, and even grow. Christians will continue to love the Lord Jesus Christ despite your evil existence.

            You will never ever succeed in breaking Christianity. You cannot even impede Christianity’s growth.

            You are fighting a losing battle, ISIS.

            Do you want to know why?

            Persecution is ingrained in Christianity. Persecution neither surprises Christians nor is an aberration in Christianity.

            Christians who live godly lives will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3: 12). Those persecuted for our belief and devotion to the Lord Jesus would be blessed in abundance (Matthew 5: 10-12).

            So keep shouting at the top of your voice that your objective is to create a Caliphate or to invade Rome or whatever. But you cannot vanquish Christianity.

            Truth be told, your presence will unite Christians; for it is during intense persecutions that our otherwise warring denominations would unite. Your presence will strengthen Christianity.

            Are you aware that your existence teaches common man a bitter yet glorious truth? Yes, your evil existence posits hell as a literal, physical, and an eternal realm for the godless.

            Some mindless Christians foolishly and relentlessly argue that God will save all mankind. Thoughtlessly they advocate that your members will go to heaven despite your bloodthirsty evil atrocities that stems from your unbelief in the Lord Jesus. 

            Am I supposed to believe that you will continue to rape, massacre, immolate and plunder lives at your insane will and animal pleasure but, at the same time, go to heaven despite your cumulative evil?

            These debauched Christians erroneously argue from the Bible that God will save all mankind. A god who will usher you into heaven despite your cumulative evil and unbelief in Christ is not god. Such a god deserves to be abused and trampled under our feet. Such a god does not deserve worship. Such a god exists in degenerate minds.

            I named this figment-of-imagination-god as ‘unigod’ – the god who supposedly saves all mankind. This was my response to ‘unigod,’ “Please brace yourself for an unmitigated indecent assault on unigod. The unigod is an evil, corrupt, depraved, putrid, brainless blockhead; he is a nonsensical dummy, foolish idiot, insanely ignoramus dolt, a nincompoop, and a senseless monkey. Anyone can mock and thoroughly disrespect unigod. Despite these abuses on unigod, Universalists will claim that unigod will still save me. A god who accepts and agrees with abuse of any intensity is a god without perfection and holiness. Even man’s intrinsic dignity and self-worth prevents him from agreeing and accepting to abuses of any form or size. So a god who is awfully comfortable with abuses to the extent of supporting and welcoming evil is an evil god that resides only in the fantasies of certain minds.” 8

            I pray that your macabre existence would infuse good sense into those who advocate that God will save all mankind. Any worldview that offers heaven to perpetrators of horrendous evil is untrue and rooted in treacherous blunder.

            I pray you would repent and seek God’s forgiveness now. Now is the time for you to repent and accept the Lord Jesus as your savior.

            The Lord Jesus Christ died for you too. But you can reap the benefits of HIS sacrificial death if you believe in Christ, repent and plead for forgiveness for your sins.

            When the Lord Jesus returns in all HIS majesty, glory and splendor, your knees will bow down to HIS Lordship and your tongue will confess Christ as Lord. By that time, it would be too late for you to repent. So act now.

            Surely evil will not cease until the return of the Lord Jesus. If you don’t perpetrate evil, someone else will. Although we pray for deliverance from evil (Matthew 6: 13), we will pray that none of us will fear evil.

            We will not be afraid of you, because our God will never leave or forsake us (cf. Deuteronomy 31: 6; Isaiah 41: 10; Hebrews 13: 5).  

            Your evil existence urges our churches to teach Christians to face persecution head on. Our churches would nurture and develop stronger and mature believers, especially the younger Christians. You will indirectly strengthen the Christians.

            Christian persecution in 2014 was historic – approximately 100 million Christians were persecuted – by far the largest numbers in mankind’s history. 9 Above all, Muslims persecute Christians the most, so your persecution of Christians is normal.10 If the current scenario in persecution continues, persecution in 2015 and the future will be worse.11

            But our belief in our Lord Jesus will remain strong and steadfast despite your persecution. When persecution intensifies, we will unite like never before. Our cumulative prayers will pierce the heights of heavens.

            In life and in death we will glorify our Lord Jesus Christ. Amidst persecution, we will praise our God as long as HE gives us breath.

            Even though we walk through death’s darkest valley, we will not fear evil. Our God is with us; HIS presence will comfort us. Surely God’s goodness and love will follow us all the days of our lives, even amidst persecution. We will dwell in the house of the Lord forever (cf. Psalm 23: 4-6). Amen.

Striving to love you with the love of Christ,

Raj


Endnotes:

If you would like to read my earlier blog on “Should Persecuted Christians Fight Back?” please visit this link…http://rajkumarrichard.blogspot.in/2014/08/should-persecuted-christians-fight-back_18.html


1 http://nypost.com/2015/02/18/female-isis-captives-endure-brutal-and-abnormal-sex/

2 http://www.worldmag.com/2015/02/un_condemns_isis_for_brutality_against_children

3 Ibid.         

4 http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/NewsDetails.aspx?storyid=381045

5 http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/malaysian-women-join-middle-east-jihadists-as-comfort-women-reveals-intelli

6 http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/NewsDetails.aspx?storyid=381153

7 https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2015/02/10/all-this-barbarity-is-sacred-a-muslim-journalist-dares-to-say-that-isis-is-motivated-by-religion/

8 http://rajkumarrichard.blogspot.in/2013/10/the-god-who-admits-all-people-to-heaven.html

9 http://www.sltrib.com/lifestyle/faith/2038782-155/persecution-of-christians-reached-historic-levels

10 Ibid.

11 Ibid.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Are Children Who Are Disabled & Ugly, Gifts of God?


                  Our world discriminates the ugly1 and the disabled. 2 But the Bible does not discriminate them. The Bible says, “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.” (Psalm 127: 3, NASB). So our question could be organized as:

            A. God creates life (Isaiah 42: 5; Job 33: 4; Colossians 1: 16; Revelation 4: 11).

            B. If children are a gift from God, must we also consider ugly and disabled children as a gift from God?

            C. Gifts are to be good (Matthew 7: 11; James 1: 17; Romans 6: 23; Ephesians 2: 8), so how can an ugly or a disabled child be a good gift from God?

            We may consider this theme from a theoretical standpoint, for we may not be exposed to disability in our lives. But there are those who are either disabled or are circumstantially mandated to nurture the disabled. Those exposed to ugliness and disability could question God more vigorously, for to live with ugliness or disability is never easy.

            Within this context, the term ‘differently abled’ is gradually contesting the term ‘disabled.’ The disabled could be differently abled if we consider the lives of Albert Einstein, Sir Isaac Newton, Mozart, Charles Darwin etc. These famous personalities may have been on the autism spectrum; however their disability did not limit them from achieving greatness.3

            Whatever said and done, it is difficult to live with any kind of disability. Hence we could question the fact of ugly or disabled children being a gift from God, for it seems that God intentionally created these children with certain disabilities.

            So how do we reconcile the fact that ugly and disabled children are God’s gift to mankind?

Understanding the Fall

            A proper understanding of the ‘fall’ would enable us to overcome pain and live victoriously.  Since Adam and Eve rejected and sinned against God through their disobedience, God altered the dynamics of our earthly living (Genesis 3: 16-19). Thus pain is innate to our earthly existence.

            If pain is innate to our earthly existence, then it is futile to question pain. Similarly, it is futile to question God.

            Questioning God will not transform ugliness to beauty or disability to ability. Questioning God exposes our lack of understanding of the Bible.

God Is Not Obligated To Anyone

            God is not obligated to offer a painless life to a Christian. In other words, HIS gifts need not always be ‘good’ according to our definition of good. We define beauty as good; we do not define ugliness as good. Similarly we do not define disability as good.

            God is not a goodness vending machine through the nonexistence of pain. Significantly, God will offer goodness even through pain. An early comprehension of this truth would enable us to lead a victorious Christian life.

            According to HIS wisdom, God allows pain in our lives. Pain manifests through disability, ugliness, death etc.

            Certain painful situations can be overcome e.g. headache can be cured or a malfunctioning kidney could be surgically removed, and normal life could be lived. However, other painful situations cannot be overcome e.g. amputated limb does not grow. During painful instances, normal lives - lives lived in the comforting confines of a normal body or mind - cannot be lived.

            So God is not obligated to offer a painless life to any individual. In fact, God, through HIS wisdom and justice will allow painful situations to invade lives of certain people.

            What then is the purpose of God’s gifts? How could gifts that bring pain into our lives be good gifts?

            In order to live victoriously, we should understand the purpose behind God’s gifts.

To Praise & Glorify God Is Chief End Of Man   

            Let’s get to the basics.

            Although life is a gift of God, why did God create life?

            The chief end of man is to praise and glorify God always (1 Chronicles 16: 23 - 29; Psalm 86: 12; Matthew 5: 16; 1 Corinthians 6: 20, 10: 31 etc.).

            Glorifying God always is to glorify God during successes and failures. We are to glorify God during goodness and pain. This is the purpose of our lives.

            Consider Lazarus’ death and resurrection; the Lord taught that Lazarus’ sickness and death is for God’s glory (John 11: 4). The Bible is replete with such instances that pain and suffering is for God’s glory (cf. John 9: 2-3; Exodus 9: 13-16 etc.).  The Bible teaches us that we should praise and glorify God during moments of joy and sorrow.

            Therefore, God should be glorified when a child is born. We are also mandated to nurture the child so that he/she glorifies God.

            If God is to be glorified always, then God should be glorified by a child who is normal and a child who is disabled. But in order for this to happen, the parents should glorify God when they are gifted with a healthy child or when they are gifted with an unhealthy or disabled or ugly child.

            If parents glorify God during moments of joy and sorrow, then the child would also glorify God during joyous or sorrowful moments.

            Thus the Bible establishes the most important truth of a Christian life - to glorify God always – be it through a healthy or a disabled child. 

            Significantly, goodness of God’s gift is only realized when God is glorified. If God is not glorified, then the life that does not glorify God cannot be a good life. A healthy life that does not glorify God is not a good life.

            Therefore, a healthy life is not necessarily a good life or a healthy child need not be a good gift from God.           

            Any child, be it healthy or unhealthy, is a good gift from God since it has the potential to glorify God always. But goodness of the gift is realized when that healthy or unhealthy life glorifies God.  

God Gives & Cares

            God does not give and abandon us; instead HE gives and cares for us. HE cares us naturally - through family, friends, medical care etc., and HE cares for us supernaturally by providing divine strength, wisdom, peace, comfort, and encouragement to our weary spirit and soul.

            If we seek God, then God enables us to glorify HIM always. Those who have honestly sought God while under terrible trials and tribulations will vouch for the existential fact that God cares for the weary and downtrodden (cf. Isaiah 40: 29 & Matthew 11: 28).

            Hence God’s care during trials and tribulations is as much experienced in the practical realm as it is read and assimilated in the theoretical realm. 

Protect God’s Gifts

            Thus far, two central biblical imperatives have been established:

            1. God should be glorified always. God is the Heavenly Father for all mankind, since HE is the creator and sustainer. Life is to be lived to glorify God always.

            2. Every gift is a good gift since every life has the potency to glorify God in every situation of life – good or bad notwithstanding. A life would be a good life only when God is glorified during moments of goodness and pain.

            Therefore, every gift of God should be protected by us – be it a healthy or an unhealthy child. We should not discriminate the disabled or the ugly. But we should protect the disabled and the ugly so that they glorify God through their ugliness and disability.

            In conclusion, God could be glorified by people who are normal and disabled. Ugliness or disability is not a means to reject God. In fact, disability or adversity should carry us closer to God, for it is only God who can comfort us naturally and supernaturally.

            Every child born into this world is a good gift from God. We are obligated to care and nurture every life that God creates, and by the grace of God, we can. God would help us care for everyone – the healthy and the disabled – as long as we seek God to do HIS perfect and pleasing will.

            So may we seek God and glorify HIM always and may we nurture those around us to praise and glorify God. Amen.


Endnotes:
1 http://nymag.com/news/intelligencer/the-ugliness-penalty-2011-8/
&
http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1906642,00.html

2 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ableism


3 http://autismmythbusters.com/general-public/famous-autistic-people/