Everyone claims to be a Christian today. At least in Nagaland. Yet when faced with a great crisis or a strong temptation, we easily give in to the pressures. We conveniently forget we are Christians and that we follow Jesus. The question we must ask ourselves often is this: How far are we willing to go in our commitment to follow Jesus? All the way till the end, or do we feel cowed down by the forces of the world to compromise and lay aside our Christianity to pursue an immediate want?
Can we truly follow Jesus collectively as a tribe, as a people together? The answer must be “YES”, and this must inform and reform the way we stand up against situations of injustice and violence, before we decide to take up our guns, our daos, and our spears.
Take the issues of injustice and violence. How do we follow Jesus in a world full of injustice and violence? Many may not even be willing to ask this question because we think Jesus would demand us to be passively peaceful and suffer quietly in faith and love when faced with injustice and violence. But nothing could be further away from the truth of following Jesus. God never takes lightly the injustice in the world. We don’t know why he allows situations of injustice to happen, but we do know that he has a plan and he is actively working against it. Even when God walked this planet in the person of Jesus Christ, his whole life was devoted to the reversing of sin and injustice-when he healed the sick, when he raised the dead, gave sight to the blind, fed the hungry, calmed the storm or stopped the men from stoning a girl to death. All this finally led him to the Cross.
The Cross was not an isolated event in the life and ministry of Jesus, but the culmination of his life’s work. What seemed to be the greatest victory of his opponents turned out to be the greatest victory for Jesus, because Jesus and his rivals were working with opposite motives and agendas. They were trying to get rid of their rival and greatest threat-Jesus, and the only means they knew was the use of violence. But part of Jesus’ agenda and motive was to put an end to their violent and destructive style of functioning. Part of the lesson to be learnt from the voluntary suffering of Jesus on the Cross is that Jesus exhausted the power of evil and violence by taking its full weight upon himself and saying, “The buck stops here.” He contained it and did not allow evil and violence to use him as an instrument to perpetuate itself.
Through his life, which finally led to the Cross, Jesus introduced a new way of doing things. To put it another way, Jesus introduced a new form of protest and fight against injustice and violence. He did not take up the gun, the dao and the spear, nevertheless Jesus’ style has proved more powerful and successful than any other. Many great figures in history have applied Jesus’ non-violent confrontation with evil and injustice to great success. History confirms this to us in the likes of Rosa Parks, who publicly refused to obey an unjust law, and Martin Luther King Jr during the Civil Rights Movement in America, Nelson Mandela in Africa, or even Mahatma Gandhi in India. These lessons from history also prove to us that it is possible for tribes and nations to follow the precepts of Jesus collectively rather than to confine it within our church walls or within our individual lives.
I repeat the question posed earlier, “How far are we willing to go in our commitment to follow Jesus?” This is of utmost importance. We cannot stop halfway when we are faced with the pressure of popular opinion or even collective traditional wisdom. There will be times when we have to come together to think through how we as a people should follow Jesus together in his terms, and not in ours. We all know there have been many such times and how we have set aside Jesus again and again, and preferring to take the more traditional violent option. We cannot confine Jesus to our individual lives. He must have relevance in our collective consciousness, in our collective decisions and actions.
The most crucial question at this point is this: Can we truly follow Jesus collective as a tribe, as a people together? The answer to this question must be “YES”, and this must inform and reform the way we stand up against situations of injustice and violence, before we decide to take up our guns, our daos, and our spears. When we take up the gun in retaliation, the line between justice and injustice is no longer drawn between “us” and “them”, but the thread of injustice and guilt runs through us all making everyone equally unjust, violent and guilty.
Never for a moment should we ever think that Jesus takes lightly the injustice and violence people suffer. He dealt with it while he walked this planet, and he will deal with it most severely when he comes back. But this doesn’t mean that we sit back and wait for him to come and set all things right. We have our part to play but through non-violent protests and democratic means. But alas, he may also have to deal with us too if he finds us a party to perpetuating and endorsing the use of violence against violence in our fight against injustice and wrongdoings.