Jesus saw things in a holistic way. Poverty is not only lack of material resource, imprisonment is not only in being confinement in a walled prison, blindness is not only lack of eyesight. Jesus came to proclaim the jubilee for the poor, the blind, the captives and the oppressed. His was a revolutionary and reforming life totally dedicated to the cause of sustainable human freedom claiming man's equality and fraternity with God's sovereignty over all creation. He saw people as people with his intrinsic worth and uniqueness as created in the likeness and image of God with infinite potency for goodness and greatness. Jesus valued people above money, position, religious affiliations, caste and race or above any other barrier. Today, how do we participate in this work of transformation of people's lives? We need an in-built trustworthiness, a fire-within. The Spirit of God only can produce that in our hearts and minds. In order to receive this strength we must be open to be guided by godly values of love and service to others.
With the passage of time the importance of human inter-dependence and inter-relatedness and community life is becoming more and more intensified. This calls for a change of hearts from unjust ways, a substantial change of attitude that compels the powerful to empower the weak, the haves to share with the have-nots. We live in quite a sick and crazy world now. There are wounds and pains in our lives, our families, and our societies and in other human relationships. Man’s greed and lust for power has made a mess of God’s creation. Our wanton desires have led us abuse nature’s resources. The air we breathe is full of pollution, the water we drink is contaminated, the soil we cultivate is deplete and barren. The need for healing and renewal of our relationship with people, with nature and with God cannot be over emphasised.
The Holy Spirit enables us to rise above our hatred and neglect, and makes us caring and sharing people. At the initial stage of the Church in the first century we see when the Church was more open to the leading of the Holy Spirit and had quality of life, hope and joy being committed to the vision of its founder. But with the passage of time much of our words and claims came to be divorced from our life-style. In much of the time the power was lost and the vision and paradigm became paralysed. Instead of being able to impact the world the Church came to be impacted upon by the secular world. Such a situation as this is eloquently articulated by Frank Cooke (in his book 'Jesus Rules O K): “The deadly enemy of all revolutions is the sclerosis, which set in once the struggle for survival is over. The pattern is something like this: first there is a man consumed by a vision; he communicates it, this leads to men enthused by the vision, they communicate and organise, the movement grows. Then men produce a machine to realise and propagate the vision, and the machine grows and becomes a monument to the visionary and before long the monument becomes a mausoleum. If any revolution is to survive and continue to grow it must maintain in the first place the vision, the dream, and the aim of its creator. It is always true, 'Where there is no vision, people perish'. The whole of civilisation is a commentary on the tragedy of lost vision." The Holy Spirit gives us vision for reconciliation with each other and sustains that relationship as against derogatory forces. For a new order of life and relationship, for restoration of our wounded relationship all people of goodwill need to join hands against cruel and oppressive structures.
Our fervent prayer and intercession for today’s humanity ought to be for meaningful justice and lasting peace. Peace, justice and righteousness are inter-linked with one another in the teaching of the Holy Bible. God is just because he is righteous. Without justice there is no righteousness and no peace. The 8th century B.C prophet Amos exhorted the leaders the Israelite people for establishing justice in society because mere lip-service and credal devotions to our lofty ideas does not help much. God told the people through Amos: “I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! “(Amos 5:21-24).
The power of Satan is always greater than we can imagine. But we believe that the power of God is above all other powers. May we pray this Christmas that the Holy Spirit moves us to be intentional and dynamic about working for a society full of health and healing for all? The abiding presence and power of God's Word, His Word as incarnated in Christ, who is Immanuel, is promised for us. As we celebrate Christmas may we be proactive enough to internalise this message and make our lives open before God and before people also towards His glory and service to others. We cannot love and respect God when we disrespect his creation, man, who is created in his image. The message of the birth of Christ cannot be understood without considering the mission of Christ’s coming to the world. In the so-called Nazareth Manifesto as found in Luke 4:18-19 amply testify to this. To quote him saying: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”
The writer is a Christian Theology teacher and a Church leader