A Relevant Church

Naga Church can no longer remain abstract and removed from people’s realities. To be relevant to the people it must have meaning for them in their given situation. If a people are hungry, then the Church must have something to say about their hungriness. A truthful assessment of these historical relations is imperative for the Church to begin a sustainable shift from its present passivity to reclaim its prophetic role, which has people at its center. 

It is not surprising that there is a call for formulation of a theology that is alive to the needs of the Nagas; a Naga theology that creates meaning and purpose of existence. It needs to be borne out of the experiences, cultures and realities of the people and time. Naga Church must make the gospel relevant and liberating. Liberation, after all should be imparted as a divine future that breaks into present realities. It should arouse self-realization that the existing situation contradicts the real humanity of God. 

The Church in present Naga society has also to be looked in terms of the way it was introduced. As Biko would say, “if Christianity in its introduction was corrupted by the inclusions of aspects which made it the ideal religion for the colonization of people, then, nowadays in it’s interpretation it is the ideal religion for the maintenance of the subjugation of the same people.” In the analysis, its historical existence could coax it in a direction which creates a dependency relation wherein the church as a result cannot exist without State powers; thereby removing from its center, the people.

This raises ethical questions of “What am I to do” and as Gustavo adds, “What does it mean to be a Christian? What does it mean to be Church in the unknown circumstances of the future?” There is necessity for Naga Churches to interpret Christian ethics based on the Scriptures because when God is not derived from the scriptures, Christian ethics remains indifferent towards people.

Central to Christianity is justice that embraces grace and compassion. When people are passive and afraid, the Church must remind people that Jesus does not want conformity to the wrongs, neither to react violently, rather to refuse to oppose it in its own terms and find a third way; a way that is neither submission nor assault, but a way that can secure human dignity. 

Given the fact that Nagas are deeply embedded in their faith, the Churches have the finest opportunity to build a politics of justice and compassion and to initiate radical transformation that will give meaning for prophetic existence. As Gustavo says “the goal is not only better living conditions, a radical change of structures, a social revolution; it is much more: the continuous creation, never ending, of a new way to be human…”