October 15, 2007

The Unprofitable servants

I remember Mordecai's response to Esther when she as a queen wasn't taking any steps to save the Jews:

"Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king's house, more than all the Jews.For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"

A parable that Jesus told his disciples about the talents that were given by the lord to his servants:

"But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money. After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.
Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strowed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strowed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Another parable that Jesus told to his disciples about the great feast that was made by a certain man:
"Then said he(Jesus) unto him,
A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse...
So that servant came, and showed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper."

You might be wondering what exactly I am trying to tell through this article. Read further.

Recently our church had begun with a new meeting: Hindi Bible Study -- for the people who couldn't understand English and wanted to learn the Word of God. We didn't expect much people to take part in this meeting. But the response we got was overwhelming. Not only did we get a good response but also the number of people attending gradually started increasing. The people that attended this gathering were mostly the poor and the blind, people who do not have a good family, and the newly converts. They now-a-days make it a point to come even for the prayer meetings.

Well, a very important thing to notice here. Now a days we don't even have time for God and his church. We think that we have enough knowledge from the Bible and are living a 'spiritual' life. Attending church and being a part in the various church activities has become of no importance. That's why we see so less a number of people eager for God and excited to do something for him. As Mordecai said to Esther, God wants us to learn this very lesson; if we are not available for God and are lost in our own cozy life, God will refuse to use us for his ministry. He doesn't need people who do not need him. But he will raise up people from areas so unprofitable to make them vessels unto honor and fit for the Master's use. Keeping this in mind lets read those two parables again and see where exactly do we stand.

October 06, 2007

The Unseen Mask

People tend to develop a respect or a kind of affection to a person whom they admire or try to imitate. Imagine yourself being in front of the person you admire the most, say, Thierry Henry. You know that he is the greatest footballer around and getting an autograph or a tip or two on your football skills would be something amazing. I doubt if you had other friends along with you, giving them an opportunity to meet him or talk to him would be something irrelevant because at that moment the world revolves only around the two of you.

Each one of us has someone or the other we admire. It may be our bosses in our work place, it may be our parents, it may be our teachers or it may be someone in the friend circle we hang out with. We try our best to make our impression prominent over there that we can gain their attention and respect from them. I remember the people I admire. Its like when I’m with them, I tend to forget the kind of life that I live, and tend to walk in their footsteps, try to follow their lifestyle, try to talk they way they talk.

It is this mask we carry around that is so many times unseen by others but unknowingly or knowingly silently seen by ourselves. We tend to put on their character and their lifestyle over ours just that we can become like them. The hidden craving in us, forces us to imitate them in our lives, changing the “old me” to a “new he-on-me” This mask can be good or bad all depending on the person we try to imitate.

We are a new creation. No more the old man lives in us since the time Christ came into our lives. He has given us a new body. But have we put on Christ or is the world still lurking around with those stained garments? He has given us new robes of righteousness, but have we put them on? It is the ‘mask’ of Christ that should be seen in our lives not the mask of this world. But we most of the times find our ‘masks’ not on ourselves but on some old cupboard caught in all the possible cobwebs. It is when we adorn ourselves with this ‘mask’ of Christ, will the world see the Christ in us.

“Munna, Allah par barosa rekho…”

Lately, I had been to the barber shop. Entered in to find no customers, but two barbers sitting together eating and chatting. Lately, the two of them were managing that shop, since the others had gone to their native place. As I entered in, one of them offered me some of their snacks. I in a hurry said “No” as I was getting late to go back home and expected them to get my hair cut as soon as possible. Out of the two of them, one of them was old and the other was of my age. Realizing that I was in a hurry, the older man stepped in for cutting my hair. By that time, the younger fellow too got a customer.

I was a frequent customer in that shop and they knew me well. They were people who enjoyed talking to each other as they did their work. They would joke, laugh, and comment on various situations and all those kind of things. The older man would call the younger fellow “Munna” i.e ‘my child’. Though they weren’t of the same blood yet their relation was as of a father and son.

As time passed by, the younger fellow started uttering something and began complaining about something. He seemed troubled and worried. The older man kept telling him, “Munna, Allah par barosa rekho…” i.e. to say “My son, have faith on Allah” They were Muslims and the older man seemed more religious out of the two. He kept advising the boy to keep faith on Allah and not worry about the problem that he was facing. But the boy didn’t seem comforted and kept orating his complains. Yet the older man didn’t give up but kept advising him to have faith in Allah. He told him that nothing is impossible with Allah; just trust him. As the conversation kept going, the younger fellow began to feel comforted through those advices.

This small incident that happened really made me to take out some time to just think about myself. Times when problems arise, when situations seem not going my way, how much I fail in putting my faith in God! I say, God is my refuge and my strength, a very present help in times of trouble, but how many times have I actually asked God for his help in faith? Putting my trust on him even in the smallest of situations was something I found lacking in myself. Though these people did not know the true God was, yet they had faith in their god. We Christians after coming to the right knowledge of God, fail in exercising our faith in God. Let’s strengthen our faith in Christ and look to his will for everything.

October 01, 2007

Joseph of Arimathaea

After the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, a man named Joseph from the city of Arimathaea came and begged Pilate for the body of Jesus. Pilate shocked to hear that Jesus died a couple of hours earlier than the expected time, failed to believe that the message was true. After conformation, Pilate agreed to release the body of Jesus to this man.

Joseph was a devout man known for his good works. He was a counselor. He was also a God fearing man who waited for the kingdom of God i.e. Jesus Christ. Mention of Joseph in the Bible is really short; just 4 verses dedicated in three gospels. Four things about what he did is mentioned in the Bible – he begged for the body of Christ, he took it down from the cross, he wrapped it in clean fine twined linen and he lay it in a new sepulcher that was carved from a single rock.

God really appreciated the small unseen duty that Joseph did. That’s why we read about him in the Bible. When Christ was alive, everyone loved to be there besides him to learn of him, to see miracles, to receive his blessings. But when he died, very few were there to repay him at least by giving him a proper burial.

Through the four things that Joseph did, we see an immense act of worship coming from a true heart that actually recognized the person of Christ. He was in very close fellowship with God. He could see the beauty of Christ even in that marred face on the cross of Calvary. This is the first lesson we need to learn; only by developing a close fellowship with God, will you be able to admire the person of Christ. Only then can we be able to worship Christ in Spirit and in truth.

Next we see him begging for the body of Christ. Here we can see the act of humility. He put away his self, his qualification, his status among the people to come and worship this person who had given him all of those things. Why should Pilate release the body to any one who suddenly comes out of the blue? It was the act of humility that made Pilate to agree upon releasing the body to him. We, when we come to worship Christ, come with all our qualifications, status and oratory gifts to out do the others who have also gathered along with us for worship. Christ accepts worship only from a heart that has no merits of its own. Once the self comes in our worship, that’s when we see only our self and not God. That’s when we begin to see only what kind of a life lived before coming to know Christ rather than seeing the work of Christ in us. Worship is defined as adoration. Understand the meaning of this word itself defines the pattern given to us for worship.

Next we see him removing the body from the cross. While removing it, he might have seen all those scars and bruises that were there all throughout the body. He realized the pain and sufferings that Christ had to go through. He could partly understand the sufferings of Christ. This is the next thing that worship calls us to. Only when we ourselves see the scars and bruises on his body, will we be able to realize the intensity of sufferings that he had to go through. Worship requires us to see the work of Christ on the cross of Calvary, the sufferings which we had to suffer, he took upon himself. Every step that we take in removing the body of Christ from the cross will make to realize more and more the beauty in the work that Christ did for the redemption of our souls.

We then see him wrapping the body in a clean fine twined linen cloth. It was traditional for the priests to wear a linen cloth. Joseph understood the purpose behind the death of Christ. Christ had come in to this world to bridge the gap between God and man. God’s law stated that, without the shedding of blood it is impossible to please God. It was the priest’s duty to plead to God for the forgiveness of a man’s sins, by killing a lamb on the altar. But such kind of forgiveness was temporary and continuous shedding of blood was required. Christ became the Priest and Lamb for our sins, so that once and for all a sacrifice could be made so that we could have forgiveness of our sins. Worship requires us to understand the deity of Christ on the cross of Calvary. He being God Almighty, came down in the form of man, humbled himself even unto death on that cross. He became a Priest for us and an offering for us too. All this again reminds us of the work of Christ on the cross of Calvary.

Lastly we see him giving Christ a proper burial. He put him in his own new sepulcher. He gave him an honorable and worthy burial. It was not a very rich burial as we see no spices or ornaments, etc. being used. Neither was many people participating in the burial. So how was in worthy enough for the King of kings? The worship that outpoured from the heart of Joseph was one of the best burials that one could give Christ. Christ accepts something that is from a true heart and considers it great, like we see in the case of the widow who cast in two mites. Christ requires worship that comes from a heart that is sincere and true. We need to give him the honor and glory that’s worthy unto him.

Let’s look back into our lives and see in how many areas we fail and how can our worship be acceptable in the sight of God as a sweet smelling savor.