In order to communicate effectively to the pastors and others here it’s important for me to try to see life as they see it. I’ve been seeking to understand their world view since I started coming. I have a lot to learn, and I’m sure I’ll never totally understand it, but I thought it might be good for me and interesting for you if I put some of it down in a blog.
For those who aren’t Christians, their life is, for the most part, empty and meaningless, a day to day existence until they die and repeat it all over again, hopefully under better circumstances (depending on their karma). If they can derive some pleasure on the way fine, but setting goals and ambition for improvement are not strong drives in most of them. Life’s driving motive is avoid doing anything dishonorable or bringing shame to their family, for the extended family is where their allegiance belongs. Approval by the family is the strongest motivating factor. Individuals exist to benefit the family, the family does not exist to benefit them. To do so brings honor, to not do so brings shame. Decisions are made by the family as to their career/job, who to marry, where to live, etc. Independence, freedom and privacy are virtually unknown. Right, wrong, guilt, etc., are not part of their thought process, just bringing honor by avoiding shame.B
elievers have hope in Jesus and a better future. Family, shame and honor are still strong, but individual faith and knowing a loving God who cares about them makes a world of difference. They have a strong bond to other believers and their church, often because of family rejection when they become Christians. They live under a double cloud of rejection and persecution, first because they are mainly Dalits or tribals and therefore below the caste system, often seen as subhuman. Also, even among their peers they are rejected and persecuted because they are Christians. They are not safe even in their own country. Like the Jews of Europe (and elsewhere), their being ‘different’ becomes a part of their everyday life and thought.
Despite this, these people have a joy and love others lack, a look in their eyes, ‘life’ in their hearts which is encouraging to see. They only have a very basic, rudimentary understanding of Jesus and the Bible, but they have a strong faith in Him. We often think we can depend on government, insurance, savings, friends, education, etc., to help us in time of need but they clearly know they have none of these things. And yet they are more content than those with all of the above. Many studies show people in third world countries are more content with their life than those in the USA or Europe. That is certainly true here. They will welcome you into their house and freely share whatever they have with joy and no embarrassment. To accept their hospitality or help shows them great honor.
Their church life is basic and simple as well. It reminds me of the early church in what they do, how they do it and why they do it. People are the central focus, not buildings or programs.
They are true servants of Jesus, both to Him and to others. That’s the reason Christianity is the fastest growing religion in India. They are far from perfect, don’t think they have arrived in their faith for they haven’t. They struggle with the same temptations and sins that we do. But there is something to be said for their simpler life that helps their focus stay where it should be – on Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 13:5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
Philippians 4:11-13 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Don’t idealize Indian believers as perfect, for they have their struggles and failures like we do. But do try to from the simplicity of their lives and faith. It’s something we long for, but don’t take steps to achieve. When you pray ask God how you can simplify your life and faith. Listen to what He says and take steps today to put it into practice.