~ Dr. Imtisangba Longchar
We see chaotic situations all around us. When we read newspapers and listen to TV news, we hear about war, violence, cheating, abuse of power, and manipulation. Assembly election is knocking at the door in Nagaland, and we expect muscle power, money power, and all kinds of manipulation to capture the power. The roads, electric city, and health care systems are in pathetic condition. Poverty, unemployed, and unrest among the youth are on the rise. Nagaland is the worst performing state due to corruption. Amidst all these problems, some people think that Christians, especially Church workers, should not speak out and participate in social life such as clean elections, etc. But, then, who will speak against injustice and corruption?
The core teaching of the Bible is justice. The transformation of individuals and society begins when we repent from selfishness and disobedience, and do justice. Selfish rulers crucified Jesus because he spoke and challenged them. The cross is the symbol of Jesus’ participation in public life. Jesus started his public ministry by proclaiming the content of the kingdom of God. Jesus’ idea of the kingdom of God is about resistance to injustice and oppressive systems for justice and freedom of marginalized people. For Jesus, God’s kingdom enters people’s lives by transforming all relationships, institutions, and structures. It means the transformation of society begins when we resist injustice. The church is called to participate in nation’s building.
Today Christians are so satisfied with revival camps. Christian social engagement is seen as unspiritual. This is unbiblical. The church involvement should not be limited to mere spiritual awakening but should be directed to social transformation. It involves two dimensions:First, the church should work for change in a social relationship. When we say social transformation, we are not talking about assimilation (or a kind of Sanskritization process) to dominant society or reservation policies, but “social transformation” that includes structural and cultural societal changes for justice. The nature of social transformation is not adaptation to new social development, but it is a question of resistance against any structure and form of society that is oppressive and injustice and denies the rights of the people in the margin. So our participation should be located in structural change. It is an unjust structures that nature inequalities and corruption. The second is religious transformation. Religious life is often misconceived as inner life that has nothing to do with structural injustice in public life. Religious values have enormous resources for holistic transformation against unjust structures. The church is to transform and care not only for the ecclesial community but also to step beyond its boundary and look at the margins.In short, there is no Christian hope without challenging the existing oppressive structures. A church that does not participate and speak out against an unjust system is not a true church. The church is called for involvement and participation in the public sphere by joining all efforts for justice, equality, freedom, and peace within human societies.