Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Chp 117. Impression of a Christian

Easter confessions.

Four years ago (2003), Easter fell on 20th April. I remembered that date very well because the next day was my birthday. A combine birthday party was thrown by me and “V” on the previous night (PSG Tech, Coimbatore, TN). From our college gang of friends, a majority of us were Christians; hence most of us treated that night as auspicious. But as the night got younger and wilder, we all eventually ended up drinking. Even the more devoted Christians among us like P and J who were on Lent and sipping on orange juices soon turned to beer (Our gang loved beer. It was always beer on such occasions). Sadly, in the midst of our drunken follies, we had completely forgotten the significance of such a sanctified weekend.

Funny thing was, the next day all of us turned up for Church! Most of us were still sipping on limewater to cure our hangovers, but we all felt this urge within us to go to Church. We never turned up to Church for an impression on what others would think about us: we went to this really secluded Catholic Church far away from College (which was a tamil service! and none of us understood tamil properly, me being a Mizo and the rest Mallus). Yet we all felt a strange calling from within to celebrate Easter and go to a Church, any Church… maybe it was guilt, or a mixture of guilt and jubilation, or maybe it was just pure exultation.

It would be easy for anybody who saw us the previous night in our drunken-est demeanor to call us all hypocrites for going to Church the next day. A big bunch of hypocrites. I wouldn’t blame them all for calling us that, because that is the kind of impression that most of us usually pass on to our non-Christian friends here in India, that Christians are a bunch of frauds who drink a lot and lead an Americanized life and then go to Church all holy on a Sunday. Although I admit we were foolish then and gravely sinned, I wouldn’t say we were being hypocritical because of the way we kept a low profile of our Church visit and also the fact that we would all rather sleep the whole day because of our hangover rather than put on some impression we didn’t give a hoot for then.

But like it or not, that is the kind of impression many people have about Christians here in India today, especially among the youth of today’s upper and middle class section of the society. Being quite liberal and a bit more moderate than most people of other faiths, college-going Christians of urban areas are usually expected to be “amazing guys to party with” or “somebody who’s really cool and happening” or “a guy with excellent taste in english music, absolutely rocking”. Word on the street is that being a Christian will earn you some extra brownie points when applying for a job as a DJ, VJ, RJ, MC, Hostess, Event Manager etc.

A good friend of mine argued that we should not be worried about the impression we give to others and what matters the most should be “our inside”. No doubt, what is “within us”, our genuineness, our sincere faith, our honest attitude infront of God, our modesty etc are all important. But when we follow all that, we are also automatically giving out a good impression. Hence we cannot separate the two of them.

Years ago, I actually used to take my then girlfriend along with me to Church on a Sunday. She’s a Hindu. But she enjoyed going to Church with me, to listen to the teachings and sermons. I could tell that she was genuinely impressed with my religion. For the short time that we were together, I even became a better Christian. There was one incident I will never forget. One Sunday, she suddenly refused to step inside the Church with me. When I asked her why, after much hesitation, she whispered to me that she was having her periods and hence felt that she might “pollute” the holy sanctity of the Church... As she was extremely adamant about her decision inspite of my pleas and persuasions, I finally stepped inside the Church alone while she waited for me at the adjoining CCD.

Leaving old traditions and conceptions about menstruation aside, what really impressed me that day was the fact that she, a person of different faith, would show so much respect to our Church in a situation where she felt respect need to be shown. That was the impression she had about Christianity, and had we been together longer, maybe she would have converted to our faith… who knows.

Impression is more important than what most people think. We should all be aware of the fact that people of other faiths are always watching our every move, the way we dress up for Church, the way we lead our life outside the Church, how helpful are we in our society, our politeness, sincerity, honesty and dedication when it comes to work etc. When we give out a great impression, it sometimes makes other people want to follow our footsteps too especially when we practice what we preach. Gandhiji once said "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

One of our obligations as a Christian is to spread the Word of God. And spreading the Word of God need not be only through sermons, preachings and missionary works. When we lead a respectable decent public life deemed appropriate of a Christian among our non-Christian friends, we are all automatically spreading God’s immortal Words. In a country with less than 3% of the total population, we have a mammoth task of standing out from the rest.

The question is, my friend, will you join me in that marathon? Lead a good Christian life inside and outside the Church, and not just lead such a life only for mere impression alone? Are we ready to show the others what being a true Christian is all about? Will you help me if I stumble and fall on the way? And more important, will you let me help you if you stumble and fall? The race has started a long time ago, my friends, come, let’s join them!

25 comments:

That same angry dad said...

Hey Sandyman,
I'm trying to remain anonymous here. Shush! :)
A new topic eh? I'll try to read this one, top to bottom and then lash out.
Wokay, laters.

illusionaire said...

sorry angry dad! I promise I wont disclose who you are again! :-) Please feel free to lash out at my post anytime bro. Looking forward to your comments.

neOn said...

I wanted to be the first to comment as I probly was the first to read...but Opera Mini wdn't let me! :). N now ive to type one hnded (baby on lap)........so..i'll b bck l8r

:D

illusionaire said...

Dear Pu Neon, would love to read your comments. hehehe... you and your baby. In in hmeh tawps! :-)

And this site is best viewed on IE. Because other browsers like Opera etc do not support many of the CSS codes I used especially at the link section. Plus browsers like Mozilla do not suppor color table codes...

neOn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
neOn said...

Oy...Kima. I've IE7 but I still prefer Firefox.

I'm actually talkin abt my phone's Opera Mini browser.

neOn said...

Talking about making good impressions as Mizo christians (albeit not in a contrived manner),
it would be great to read your take on the ongoing 'Mizoram Super Model 2007' contest (Yes, it's a contest).
I'm not sure if you have Skylinks, maybe you should subscribe too.

The show has hordes of 'pretty young nubile things' all looking more than eager to bare all in the name of fashion (or making it's statement).
These naive little girls are all sunday school goers!

While every other dude salivates for more exposure, going further on my own 'Islander's viewpoint' would seem like yet another boring lament on our state of being.
I'll leave the intricacies of scrutiny to you.

That angry dad again said...

:D Neon.
Kim, shucks, there's nothing to lash out at in this topic.
Realisation:
U were only being human :) and she was only being human too, in her own way.
Conclusion:
Methinks it's hard wired into humans, what's good and what's bad. And religion is an art of subduing the bad part of human temperament. Some just don't give a shit about art, some just don't understand art and those who do understand and appreciate art are mostly pretentious snoots. But not you. You're nice, you're a good boy. And you give my brain excercise. And my rage an outlet. Thanx.
PS.
Kim, Neon, shush abt the Supermodel stuff. Don't make a crater out of that mountain. Yep, it's a mountain already, cuz I haven't had my fill of those 'pretty young nubile things' :P Heh.

That angry dad, now mellow said...

Lemme tell you something, back in those days when I was just a kid not staying in Aizawl, I liked going to church. Yep, I actually loved going to church. I liked the songs and the people and everything about christianity and worship. It may seem weird but it's true. I still miss those days when i loved going to church. But Aizawl changed me. Now I hate going to church and it has now made me kinda hate church goers too. I don't think I'd have changed my opinion on religion if I had stayed outside Mizoram. I guess what Gandhi said is true.
There's something wrong with this place we call home and there's something wrong with us. So it's nice to have topics like these.

illusionaire said...

Pu Neon,

About the supermodels, well, the fact that I havent even voiced my opinion till now shows that its not something I considered worth wasting my time on :-)

I look at the contestants and I laugh. Sometimes yeah its a good pastime to just spend a good evening laughing... coz modelling is about grace and beauty and charm... but some of these so called models, all they do is wear the flimsiest dress possible... and they are all so young!!!!!!! anyways, I find it best in my interest not to pass any comment... although maybe one day I might too. who knows. :-)

illusionaire said...

plus.... mizo tawngin sawi mai ang he lai chu.... an pian te kha... a thenkhat kha chu a model lo khawp mai.... chawn leh ban sek tawk tawk... keini te chuan kan pian hi a nalh lo tih kan hre chianga, an ni te khan an hre ve lo emni le.... :-)

illusionaire said...

Dear OP,
Thats not the problem of the Church as such, but the problem of a close knitted society. You go to any place where such communities exist, and u will face the same problem. People in such a small society are bound to gossip about other people, hence you should treat this as the problem from society and not the church. Maybe they use the church as an excuse, but the root of the problem lies with the society and not the church.

Hence if we try to look at this from a societal perspective, maybe we wouldnt take our anger out on the church? :-) As many sociologists have proven, it is difficult to be a non-conformist in a tightly contained society like us, and the only solution to it would be to become a pariah (outcast). But hey, in the midst of all that, if it is one's choice to be outcasted from society, it is still very much possible to be devotional to out ever loving Father all alone in our room too. Because in the end, that is what that really matters. Hence the real question is, are we being that devotional to God when we are alone and away from society's prying eyes?

myself said...

okay kan tel ve teng...

in ti khawngaihthlak mah mah lo maw,i know they are not perfact ,mahse lakme leh femina tih vel ho in han chei sela chuan,an fuh ve viau tho ang,plus kan ram thang zelah hetiang tawk hi chu an om zel dawn,a ho ltk,anmahni an zah loh chuan.Photographer tha tak phei chu nei se,an lang tha ve viau ang....keipawh ka lang tha ang hahahha

illusionaire said...

Chung vel vang chuan nia ka sawisel duh vak loh na chhan... coz who are we to comment about other people. I just said what I said earlier since Pu Neon asked me for my opinion about then.

Maybe with all the make-up and fake-up, they will turn out great, but hey, my only concern is their age. A bit too young in my opinion to show so much flesh and have so much exposure thru' out mizoram. As I stated before, we live in a close knitted society.... just imagine what their image is going to be when they go back to school etc.... plus they will have to live up to the image bcoz it wud be considered embarrassing not to do so....

Like a fren of mine said... "demand channel ah vawikhat a hla a rawn lang ve dek dek, tunah chuan bus ah a chuang ngam tawh lo, gas phurh dawn pawn tlai thim nghah a ngai tawh" LOLzzzzzzzzzzz!!!!!

neOn said...

About the Mizo Models, a few of them do have potential. Perhaps to become a household name at least within our community (which doesn't seem too difficult, esp if you don't care about what kind of reputation you have).

As it is, so many people watch the show including little girls who in all likeliness are surely to imitate what's supposedly 'in' or 'cool'.

Maybe if the profession demands it, showing as much skin as they do becomes relative to success and income. But hey, we're talking abt a state with a population of what...9 lakhs! What's the chances of making it 'Big' in an industry with cut-throat ferocity? Remote at best.
My concern is with our value system (if at all there's one).

Like Deep Purple said when they came to India, the youths here are very much the same as anywhere else, Potty!

All of these, in the end becomes nothing but yet another 'sweet momentary escape' from our pathetic reality where basic amenities like Water and Electricity are very much a luxury for the majority of us.

....think about it. There's much to Do!

neOn said...

BTW Friday the 13th!!

I bet Kima has a story to tell!

:)

Neelam said...

Hey Kima,
After reading your blog on "Impression of a Christian" I feel like I found a kindred soul in you.Please don't misunderstand,I mean it in a brother-sisterhood kind of way.EEk,please excuse that term I used.
On a serious note,I agree with you that leading a Christian lifestyle that is visible to those around us is also a way of spreading the Word of God.
However,I will also let you in on a lil secret.At one point in my life I almost lost my faith because of so-called Christians who appeared to do all the right things like going to Church decently dressed every Sunday,giving tithes on time,taking part in Bible camps,many a times presenting Gospel songs in the Church.In all this,praise be to God,it was a non-Christian who restored my faith by actually ridiculing Christians.That was when I started thinking on a serious note.I read the Bible as though I was reading it for the first time.I also started reading Gospel literature.(Since then I've given up reading fiction 'coz GL is so alive).And over the years,I've come to realize what it means to follow Christ.In fact,I'm still learning and many a times I make mistakes but those too are part of the whole learning process.
I'll admit I'm not much of a Sunday Church-goer but I love being part of informal fellowships.Everday I'm learning what it means to be kind and patient even in the most frustrating situations and with the most obnoxious people.I'm learning to accept people around me as they are because I know that Jesus has accepted me even when I was at my worst.
And yes,about my non-Christian friend!!Well,he has had such a good effect on me and I believe,I too have had a good effect on him because his views concerning Christianity have changed alot(for the better,of course!!).And I absolutely love this friend.I have a burden in my heart to save him,to snatch him from the fire because he is a very good human being.Please pray for him.
Oh yes!!I very much want to be part of this marathon that you mentioned.
Take care.
God bless you.
Praise be to God Almighty.
Ishu lahu ki jai!!

mnowluck said...

Impression is more important than what most people think. We should all be aware of the fact that people of other faiths are always watching our every move, the way we dress up for Church, the way we lead our life outside the Church, how helpful are we in our society, our politeness, sincerity, honesty and dedication when it comes to work etc
So true... !!!!!!!!!

Gimme a time for retrospection.. :P..


Great post as usual...

kima-the-other said...

Hey Illu...
You wrote, "One of our obligations as a Christian is to spread the Word of God. And spreading the Word of God need not be only through sermons, preachings and missionary works. When we lead a respectable decent public life deemed..."
Carefully qualifying it as 'one' among other obligations amde me all the more eager to conjecture what the others could be. As much as the evangelical experience is an important segue...the Gospel baggage in Mizoram needs to be spread thin so that we dont weary others who might choose to paddle upstream. We need to think of the 'other' obligations: to love justice and peace, to consider who our neighbor is...seemingly minor issues that get flattened by preachifying the Christian experience.
You seemed to be taking a while for your next entry so thought id broach a few possible issues.

Anonymous said...

Just to add on Kima-the-other, like the way we preach our Christianity to Tuikuk etc, we give them Mizo names etc.and intead of giving their cultural identity, we try to Christianise them to an extend that they themselves are not comfortable to be as they are. . .

Jason said...

Hey Kim :)
Happy Birthday in advance :) Any pre-birthday beer bash this time? ;)

Anonymous said...

the only distinct impression i had specifically of christians was that they were more level headed and had an open attitude, as you say "americanized" except that, in a good way.

Funny that you mention that non-christians find you guys hypocritical cos thats exactly the opposite of what i felt. I felt all the pujas and rituals sometimes a bit too tedious in which the actual process of praying and communicating to god is lost. Also a reason, why many a times i would skip some religious function at home and head to my favorite church on the hill in my city! It was more serene and peaceful in its own way.

With regards to "making an impression", i beg to differ, because its not just christianity but almost every religion which expects its disciples to be good! So that impression needs to be maintained by everyone! I'll try to stop rambling now. And coming to mumbai anytime around? Take care and have a great birthday today!

~ Garuda

SEKIBUHCHHUAK said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY Kima..!tlai ve chhe chhe em..!lo hre lo va..

tunah chuan,duh ber te nen khaw lum hnuaia awm hle hle tawh maw...hehe..

Jimmy Sailo said...

tunah chuan,duh ber te nen khaw lum hnuaia awm hle hle tawh maw...hehe..

"Duh ber te awmna..."
"Khaw lum..."
Khawi khua nge niang awhhhh? *hush* *hush*

apple88 said...

Hi, Brothers and Sisters,

I am a Chinese Christian. I think the issue raised by Kima is very important. As a Christian with a growing LIVING spirit, we will gradually live a Christian life, which will give people a good impression. The problem is HOW to be able to lead a life which will glorify the God instead of the opposite.

I agree with Neelam said. We need to pray, lett spirit leading us, and follow its leading. Christian life is not a religious life. It is not a duty to attend church meetings how many times a month, and do what things for how many times, or how we speak for the God. It is all about our faith and our personal relationship with the God. Fellowship in an informal style is an very important part of Christian life. We can actually feel the LIVING spirit in other borothers/sisters during our fellowship. And that spirit will flow into us. We will be like a tree standing beside of a river with flowing living spirit, as King David described. With God’s spirit in us, it will lead us in our life. There will be an urge or unpeaceful feelings in us when we want to do something not in the grace of the God. We need to follow the lead of spirit. Of course, it is quite often very painful to follow. The road of cross is certainly painful to our worldly/flesh life. Our worldly/old self simply does not want to die. But it has to die so that we can be polished to the shape of Christ. Actually it has already died in the eternal world since we are saved. So, we can overcome as long as we keep turning to the lord, repent and pray. Whenever we see we are short of God’s grace, we know how much more we need to turn to the lord, repent and pray. Our spirit won’t allow us to live easy with our mishaviors as long as we ask the Lord to deal with us.

By the way, there is only 3-4% Christians in China now, please pray to the God to save more Chinese.

In Christ,

Jason