LOOKING FOR THE COMING OF THE KINGDOM
O Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name; For You have worked wonders, Plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness. For You have made a city into a heap, A fortified city into a ruin; A palace of strangers is a city no more, It will never be rebuilt. Therefore a strong people will glorify You; Cities of ruthless nations will revere You. For You have been a defense for the helpless, A defense for the needy in his distress, A refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat; For the breath of the ruthless Is like a rain storm against a wall. Like heat in drought, You subdue the uproar of aliens; Like heat by the shadow of a cloud, the song of the ruthless is silenced. The Lord of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain; A banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow, And refined, aged wine.And on this mountain He will swallow up the covering which is over all peoples, Even the veil which is stretched over all nations. He will swallow up death for all time, And the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces, And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; For the Lord has spoken. And it will be said in that day, "Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us. This is the Lord for whom we have waited; Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation." [Isaiah 25:1-9]
One-third of the world today is nominally Christian. In India we have Christian denominations Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox. What difference does it make? Or what difference should it make to our nation? That is the question. Are Christians supposed to be just another minority group working for their own communal rights and privileges, struggling against the majority of Hindus and Muslims?
In most of the countries of Asia (except perhaps in the Philippines), Christians are a numerically small minority. What is God’s purpose for us in our nations? We cannot as Asian Christians look back to a time when ‘Christendom’ or ‘Christian nations’ were a fact of history, as Western Christians can.
How do we find a way to become a dynamic presence in our own nation? India, with her poverty and injustice, dishonesty and corruption, hope and frustration, lack of leadership and initiative, is one of the saddest nations of the world today. Is there some good news that we can be and bring to our people?
Christ the King came into the city of Jerusalem seated on a donkey. He came healing and serving. He brought joy to the down-trodden and the oppressed, to the lame and the paralytic, to the blind and the deaf. He came as light for the world in darkness, bringing joy and hope [St. John. 3:19; 12:46]. And he said of his disciples, in his great high-priestly prayer, ‘As Thou didst sent me into the world, so have I sent them into the world’ [St. John 17:18]. Our presence in the world then has to be on the same lines as that of Christ’s.
The Old Testament looked forward to the presence of the Saviour God. The 25th Chapter of Isaiah gives us some understanding of what the prophets expected to happen when God comes.
Verse 25:1-2 He has already done ‘wonderful things’, which are the basis of expecting more wonderful things to happen when He comes in person.
Verse 25: 2-5 What are the things He has done?
The kingdom has come in Jesus Christ. The poor have had the good news preached to them. But the total fulfillment is still a matter for future realization. This future gets some content in the remaining part of Isaiah 25.
Verse 25: 6 - 8
Only when in practice both these concerns of the Christians become real to themselves and to others will our talk about God have any meaning for them. The God for whom India waits is a God who is both interested in and does things for the immediate economic, social and political problems, and at the same time brings victory over death itself; the God who not only punishes in his wrath and forgives in his grace, but the God who dispels famine and want, oppression and exploitation, pain and misery, hatred and dishonesty; the God who judges the oppressor and vindicates the oppressed; the God who gives life to those who live in the valley of the shadow of death.
In India we Christians need to realise the wide range of salvation that God brings -- not just the individual salvation in the ‘other’ world, but corporate and national salvation here and now as well.
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LIGHT OF LIFE
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