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Naga Christians: Good Church Members, Bad Kingdom Citizens

24 Nov. 2017 12:11 AM IST

When a bride becomes too preoccupied with her own self, she is not doing well for her bridegroom nor for other people around her. Similarly, could we say that the Naga Church has become a “self-absorbed bride” to such an extent that she is failing the Lord as well as the society around her?
For most Naga Christians, the institution of the church has become a “demigod,” because we have turned the church into a prime object of our love and a center of our lives, as if the church is an end in itself. For all this we can’t blame our rank and file Christians. Even our Pastors and priests are mostly about increasing their church members, delivering Sunday sermons, and having feel-good worship experiences. If at all they are reaching out to non-Christians, their concern seems to be only about getting converts and preparing them for heaven. These are all good, but, I am afraid, they are blinding us from seeing things beyond the church walls. We have obsessively preoccupied ourselves with church so much so that we have shut Jesus out and have forgotten His teaching about our duties as kingdom citizens.
No doubt, the Church is very important to Jesus Christ. But only two of His reported sayings contain the word “church.” In His earthly life, His whole mission was about the kingdom of God. He came preaching about it and spoke of it right after His resurrection. That implies that the kingdom of God was so dear to Him. He lived in it, and from it He looked out to the world. He not only foretold about it, but initiated it by His life and work.
As followers of Jesus Christ, the kingdom of God should be very dear to us too. But what exactly is the kingdom of God?  Let’s briefly explain:
First, the kingdom of God is about God’s reign over individuals, societies, and nations on earth. It is the energy of God realizing itself in every aspect of human life --- whether spiritual, moral, social, economic, or political. It is humanity organized according to the will of God. That’s why Jesus told His disciples to pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name / Your Kingdom come / Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” As such, wherever God’s will is done on earth, there is an ushering of God’s kingdom as well.
Second, the kingdom of God is not merely about something that will happen in the eschaton. It was inaugurated by Christ two thousand years ago. That’s why Jesus could talk about the presence of God’s kingdom amongst the people of His day. In other words, the kingdom of God is always both present and future because God is in it. This is what theologians call a “now-and-not-yet” kingdom reality.
Third, the consummation of God’s kingdom awaits a future time. But in the here-and-now, it has a partial and earthly reality, although it is in constant conflict with the kingdom of Satan. In view of this ongoing spiritual warfare, Christians are called to demolish the strongholds of the devil by the power of the Holy Spirit and to work to advance the kingdom of God on earth.
Fourth, only those who are born by the Spirit of God can be legitimate members of God’s kingdom. When they become kingdom citizens, they are to be guided by kingdom laws (the Sermon on the Mount). And as kingdom people, their lives should be characterized by righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit rather than by eating and drinking.
Unfortunately, most Naga Christians are totally ignorant of their kingdom duties. Of course, they pray, “Your kingdom come,” but even that is possibly a mere wish for an experience of heaven in a distant future.  For these Christians, kingdom citizenship has no earthly relevance in this present life. No wonder then, they are “sleeping” kingdom citizens.
To assume that the task of the Church is supreme is to miss a higher purpose of the Church, which is to build the kingdom of God on earth. Of course, bringing people to God is part of advancing God’s kingdom. But that is just the first step. The rest is essentially about living as kingdom citizens and promoting God’s rule on earth. If Christians had not confined themselves within the limits of the church, they would have made the world a better place. If the Church had understood that she is just a part of God’s kingdom and that her mission is to advance the kingdom of God on earth, then she would not have fallen into such sloth and indifference.
Some Christians tend to think that the Apostle Paul was all about the gospel of salvation for individuals. This is half-truth. Even near the end of his earthly life, Paul was busy declaring the kingdom of God from morning till evening. In other words, the Christian message is much more than getting people to receive Christ, bringing them to church, and preparing them for heaven. Therefore, like Jesus and Paul, we must include preaching the message of the kingdom of God.
History has scattered examples of God’s rule on earth. During the time of King David and King Solomon, we see the manifestation of God’s rule on earth, although it was not called “the kingdom of God.” Another example could be during the reign of Emperor Constantine when the City of Rome, with all her flaws and shortcomings, possibly came close to displaying many kingdom qualities. 
Then, coming to modern times, we have the United States of America and South Korea, seeking God’s kingdom at least in the early part of their national histories.
Now, what about Nagaland?  Oh, how I wish we could be next in the manifestation of God’s kingdom on earth!  But perhaps that will happen only if we, Naga Christians, stop being merely good church members and start living as real kingdom citizens.  

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About the Author 
Mazie Nakhro, PhD