The idea of God is a universal phenomenon. It transcends the boundaries of time, place, people, race and culture. In other words, every society, every culture, every kind of people and race and every era of human history have had its own idea and interpretation of God. It is absolutely natural for humans to assume and believe that there must be a God who created everything and who has power and control over everything that we see around us. This is so because unlike other animals, we human beings have reasoning power and this reasoning power tells us that everything including our lives could not have happened just by chance and accident. This same reasoning power also tells us that there must be a purpose for our lives on earth and that our lives, as short and temporary as it may seem here, must be carrying some much more greater and deeper meaning.
These are some of the compelling grounds which have made men to search for God and come up with their own ideas of God. But even though different people from different societies and at different points of time might have had different ideas and beliefs about God, the underlying idea about God is all the same. This is so because every man, every society, every culture etc believes their God to be someone who is all powerful, who is omnipresent, who knows everything, who created everything, who will reward good doers and punish wrong doers and who will meet us after our lives on earth is over. So despite the different notions and ideas about God for different people belonging to different races, cultures, societies, religions etc, their most fundamental ideas about God are all the same and common.
We the Nagas also had our own ideas of God in the past. Even though we did not have any particular names for our gods and did not worship any particular images or idols, our forefathers were strong believers in the so-called divine spirits. They believed that these spirits were everywhere around them and that these spirits should be respected and revered and never be sidelined or disappointed if one is to be successful and live a healthy, prosperous and long life. This is the reason why our forefathers performed various rituals and ceremonies before going for journeys and wars. They did these rituals and ceremonies in order to ascertain the omen from the spirits. Likewise they also performed rituals and ceremonies during important occasions like the sowing and harvesting seasons in order to seek the blessing and favour of the spirits and also to show gratitude. Thus we can say that even in the pre-Christian era, Nagas also, like other people and societies, believed in God and had their own ideas and beliefs about the same.
And with this foundational scenario already in place came the American missionaries to our lands around the middle of the 19th century. And these so-called harbingers of the ‘Good News’ came with the reassuring message that God is not a myth but a reality and that there is indeed someone who created everything, who is omnipresent, who knows everything, who will reward good doers and punish wrong doers and who will meet us after death. But these messengers did not stop there but went much further and revealed much more astounding stories about God which had the potential to either create unprecedented controversies and oppositions or totally change the lives of the Nagas forever. Yes, these American missionaries not only revealed that there is a God but that He died for men’s sin on a cross 2000 years ago. They also revealed that God not only created man but that He created man in His own image to be like Him. They also revealed that there is love, forgiveness, healing, acceptance and everlasting life for any man who would turn away from his sins and believe in this true God. For the Nagas who heard this astounding message for the first time, it must have been something too good to be true. But slowly, this massage began to take roots amongst us and here we are today, as a self-proclaimed Christian society even though we are still found wanting and lacking in many areas.
As for me, I was born after the gospel of Jesus Christ had already penetrated into many Naga families including mine. So I was no stranger to the stories of the Bible and the gospel by the time I reached my teens. But throughout my teens I had a rather lukewarm attitude towards the gospel. In other words the stories of the Bible and the gospel in general were no big deal to me. I was neither for it nor against it. As such the thought of making a personal commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ never crossed my mind. I attended Sunday School and church and did not mind listening to Biblical stories and gospel sermons. And frankly, there were times when I was touched and moved momentarily by certain hymns, gospel messages and preachers. But all in all during those formative years, I did not see anything in the gospel that could bring about a complete transformation in my life or in my thinking and attitude. I guess it was because during those years my young mind was still filled with many dreams and all the wildest imaginations. Maybe I thought that I had so much yet to explore in life and that life had so much yet to offer me. And so probably I felt that I still had time to take a serious call as far as the gospel was concerned.
But after I had appeared my final graduation exam and was waiting for the results to be out I began to develop a spontaneous interest and curiosity in all the fundamental phenomena of life. The varied phenomena of life which captured my mind and imagination during that period of time were:
1) History and its dynamics
2) Science and its wonders
3) Society and its evolution
4) Culture and its profound impacts on man and society
5) Archeology and its revelations
6) The rise and fall of civilizations
7) The mysteries of space and its constant exploration by men
8) The constant evolution and modification of philosophies
9) The constant flow and exchange of ideas, beliefs and notions.
10) The intrinsic and fundamental natures of man
11) The miracle of birth and the reality of death.
And as I pondered over all these phenomena, all the stories of the Bible and the gospel messages which I had heard over the years cropped up in my mind and heart and began to speak to me like never before. As I compared these gospel messages with the realities and various phenomena of life I was somehow completely convinced that there can be no truth other than the gospel and no gods other than Jesus Christ. As I meditated over the famous sayings and utterances of Jesus Christ which are found in the four gospels, I was completely overwhelmed by the profound and powerful truths in these sayings. And I could somehow see the face of Christ raising above all these phenomena and staring right into my eyes as if expecting a response from me.
These were the compelling thoughts and analysis that made me to embrace the glorious gospel and my life has never been the same since. And even though I did not publicly or verbally make any commitment to be a devout Christian or a follower of Christ, I can safely say that from that time onwards my attitude and sentiments towards the gospel of Jesus Christ and towards life itself have never been the same.
And over the years since then, I developed a natural interest and curiosity in everything and anything connected with the gospel and Jesus Christ (I guess this is the reason why I love to read and watch Biblical documentaries on the Old Testament and the gospel). I have heard and read about people who gave their lives to Christ after encountering near death experiences. There are also stories wherein people who lived wild, destructive and violent lifestyles made a total turnaround after being touched by the gospel. Likewise, the gospel has also saved people from lifelong destructive addictions. But the manner in which I came to embrace the glorious gospel is not as dramatic or spectacular as any of these. I was neither into any sort of addictions nor any wild uncivilized destructive and violent lifestyles. By the grace of God it also did not take me a near death experience to come to terms with the reality. On the contrary the manner in which I came to embrace the glorious gospel is rather nonchalant and un-dramatic. I guess not much could have been visible outside because the real change took place inside me and not outside me. And yes, I am still far from being perfect and I still have many areas where I fall short of the expectations of God and fellow-beings. But I can safely say now that my opinion and attitude about life and its struggles, about people, about circumstances and most of all about God have never been the same ever since I came to embrace the glorious gospel…