According to the indispensable standard set by the society, a person who follows the Christian faith is supposed to be a member of the local church. In any Christian circle in the Naga context, some of the most regular questions asked around are ‘which church do you attend? Which denomination does the church follow? Is it better than the other churches?’ These questions may be common, but they can be surprisingly a reflection of how people relate their understanding of religious faith with the structure and system of the church. In the past one decade or so, the transformative role of the church and the enduring historic Christian faith have taken aback or say, it is being challenged by multiple factors. The integrity to mark the leadership of the church has become a point of discussion and without doubt, the church conflicts - within and outside is being unwrapped.
Without mentioning or citing instances, a good number of Christians in the Naga society can relate, if not share personal stories of concern they have experienced due to the ripple effects of false teaching and new theology, the constant arguments between the local church and the para-church, the question of who is legitimate and if so, why?, the contest to be better than the rest and much more. Church membership is not a choice to the Christian. Unfortunately, it has become one of the main reasons why many churches in Nagaland do not see eye to eye. They consider themselves each other’s opponent allowing accusations, unhealthy discussions and toxic competitions to breed into the sanctuary, instead of bounding together by a shared belief in the gospel, and it holds a kernel of truth for every church in Nagaland.
Truth is life-changing. At its most basic level, the expression of the Church is to become a place of truth-telling. It will be misleading to keep asserting Nagaland as the Christian State with over 85% population following the faith. Unity and love are the heart of the gospel; speaking the truth in love is the responsibility of the Church. Chris Larson writes in his piece for Ligonier Ministries that “Truth is the ballast for the storm in the church and the world.” Today people are struggling. The world we survive in now is drowning in the evil of corruption, injustice, immorality, identity crisis and the like. To restore the strength and power of the Church, there must be a true commitment to confront the wickedness and not each other. It would be an irony if the Church “conforms to the pattern of this world” and fails to redeem itself with the sound truth of the gospel.
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