Last Christmas, I took a brief trip to Nagaland with my family. Many things caught our attention, but the biggest of all was the surprise visit of Jesus Christ to Nagaland. This may make you exclaim and want to ask, Jesus Christ! What? Jesus visited Nagaland? Incredible! Is not it? Read on.
The coolest thing was that Jesus, my family and I boarded the same flight. As soon as we alighted from the plane, a woman dressed in immaculate Naga attires stepped out of the crowd to interview Jesus. What made you decide to visit Nagaland, Sir? asked the lady. Well, the simple reason is that, answered Jesus, Nagaland is a Christian State or at least so I heard. To this first utterance of Jesus, the exuberant crowd thundered with a round of prolonged applause. Then, a caravan of cars, including some imported ones, arrived. And Jesus was whisked into one of them. As the motorcade was about to leave, someone in one of the cars opened the tinted glass and said, we need someone with some biblical knowledge to biblically guide Jesus. For a while searching eyes went all directions. Then, to my utter surprise, someone who knew me a little bit pointed at me. I hesitated, but I was told not to waste time, so I crammed in.
After I was introduced to Jesus, he asked me his first question. Why is your state far behind India, which is far behind other countries? I had been advised to biblically answer every question as far as practicable, so for a moment I struggled for an appropriate answer. Then, I said, Lord, because you told us in Matthew 6:20 to store up our treasures in where moth and rust cannot destroy and thieves cannot break in and steal, people here are not so interested in investing wealth in earthly development. The treasures are being invested somewhere else. Jesus did not seem quite satisfied, but I could see all my fellow VIP travelers nodding their heads in approval.
As we drove further along, we not only began to feel the road wind and curve, but also began to feel and see dusts and potholes all along the narrow and crowded roads. Consequently, I anticipated a question. Why are roads so bumpy and dusty? Why are there potholes everywhere? queried Jesus with a frail smile on his face. I scratched my head for a while and did scratch out an answer from 2 Corinthians 5:7, and I replied, Lord, as you know, most people here are Christians. So they travel by faith, not by sight. Once again, Jesus was unsatisfactorily amused, but judging from the reactions of my fellow traveling companions, I could sense that I have yet scored again.
As we drove near Kohima, dusk began to fall upon us. Someone among us pointed toward the city and said, Master, that’s our beautiful capital city, where you will be resting for a night or two. As we looked at the mountains ahead of us, one thing was obvious there was no electricity. Why is your capital city so dark tonight? It’s like a ghost town. Because my previous answers to his questions did not seem to satisfy him, this time I was not so sure whether Jesus was talking to himself or asking me a question. Nonetheless, all eyes turned toward me again for an appropriate answer. This time the answer came in handy from Matthew 5:14. So I answered and said, Lord, it is, indeed, dark over there, but the people are always contented because of the belief that they themselves are the light of the world. So they don’t feel any urgent need for electricity.
As incredible as Jesus thought my answer was, one of the very satisfied fellow travelers, who could not wait to congratulate me for such a witty and spontaneous answer, poked me and showed me the thumbs up. Soon we were in Kohima. But luckily or unluckily it was dark, and we could not see anything further than our toes.
Early the next morning, someone violently woke me up because Jesus was already up on the top of the hotel building, asking questions. Because none of the others dared to answer his questions, Jesus beckoned me to come hastily and said, Your capital city look so impoverished. Houses look so old and small. What are your politicians and public servants doing with the lavished money meant for the people they receive from Indian government? Don’t all politicians and bureaucrats profess to be my followers?
By this time, I could clearly see Jesus revealing a bit of his holy anger, and I thought I better be careful and honest in answering his question. After a long pause, I answered and said, No doubt, Lord. They are all your followers, and they try to be faithful to your words word by word, I mean. That’s why, as you commanded in Matthew 6:3, they do in such a way that even the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing. Jesus looked sternly as me and said, Is that how you Nagas truly understand my teaching and follow me? You have the letter, but where is the spirit?
As I was standing embarrassed at these chastening words of Jesus, to my utter relief, someone handed over the day’s newspaper to him. He quickly flipped the pages and did not seem to be interested to look at his pictures or reports about him on the front page. When he reached the editorial page he stopped, and I thought that he was interested in the editorial, which was about his visit, too. But, I was wrong. He was reading a letter a young unemployed youth had written to the editor of the paper, complaining for not getting a job despite doing his best, passing competitive exams and so on. Jesus took off his weary and indignant eyes from the paper and, in a frustrated tone of voice, bellowed, This young man deserves a job. If this complaint is true, where is justice in this Christian state? What’s gone wrong with the entire system? Is there a grain of justice in this land, filled with my disciples? Jesus was getting all the more annoyed, so I decided to say something differently this time.
The unemployed young man had quoted the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:7 and said that despite praying to God, doing his best, qualifying for jobs and pleading with the bureaucrats, he was refused what he thought was rightfully his. He was not only unhappy with the system, but also wondered if God really hears or cares for the poor and powerless, who have no money or influence to obtain means of livelihood. Therefore, I said to Jesus, Lord, your words in that text are understood in a slightly different way in this Christian state. They are understood as Seek with money, and you will find. Bribe and you shall receive. Jesus could not believe what he finally heard from me, and so were all the big shots accompanying him. At last, I was fired by the very people who asked me to serve as a guide, and I felt so relieved.
A week later, as I was about to board a plane to come back to Bangalore, I picked up one of the newspapers and read that Jesus was very pleased with his visit. And the credit was given to the very people who fired me and decided to (mis)guide Jesus Christ by themselves.
Except for a few changes, this retrospective piece of writing was first published by the NCF, Bangalore, in one of its newsletters.