Post Mortem

Zacchaeus or St Paul?

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 8/23/2019 11:53:11 AM IST

 I saw a disturbing WhatsApp forward from a Church leader informing his village Church members residing in towns that the Church elders will be coming to collect the Church tithe. The first thought that came to my mind on seeing this was, “Is the Church today creating more Zacchaeus (the tax collector) than St Paul (the preacher)?” The more Zacchaeus we create today, the more members leaving the Church, the more souls we keep losing. The more St Paul we create, we shall be building a community of believers, not empty & gigantic concrete Church buildings, we create a community walking in the footsteps of Christ. It is never too late for the Church to make amends and choose why if we create more Zacchaeus or more St Paul.

 Over the last few months, I’ve struggled to find peace in the Church while attending the Sunday service. My life as a Christian and attending the Church was to find peace and give an hour or two of my weekly life to God in prayer. The Church was a place where I find solace, comfort, soul searching, a place to thank God for all the blessings received and yet to come. A place I sort to seek forgiveness for all the mistakes I have committed in thoughts and deeds. Today, my mind is filled with turmoil and shame. Glimpses of the people who came to my place asking for Church tithe and other collections melts away my heart to a shameful state. I’ve always believed that my contribution to God was between him and me alone. A sacred where no human should ever see. Jesus himself cited the example of the poor widow who emptied her purse to the temple in all modesty. He rebuked the arrogant Pharisees giving wealth to the temple displaying his contribution to let the others know how much he had contributed. Now, almost every Church make a list of tithe collection, publishes a booklet and distribute it to every faithful. To me, this is shaming members who had different views as me, who either contribute anonymously or not contributing at all. I want to blow my trumpet a little here. I’m a very spiritual person if not very religious. I believe in serving another human. To me, serving man is serving God. My whole life has been doing something to the least of my neighbour in my little ways. A kilo of sugar to the poor, a warm blanket to warm during winter, a word of consolation to the helpless, a word of comfort to the lost and undecided, a morsel of meal to the hungry, a visit to the sick, praying for the community etc, etc. These I believe should be the true mission of the Church. The last Sunday, our local parish priest preached proudly from his pulpit saying, “I don’t want any parishioner in my parish going to bed hungry, I will help them even if I don’t have any to eat.” My spirit rose in ecstasy listening to the words of a true missionary, a true soldier of Christ. We need more preachers like him. How many of such men/women are left today?

 The forwarded message included, “Therefore I request all the faithful to keep ready whatever you want to give to the Lord. 2nd Corinthians 9:7 say God loves a cheerful giver.” But he perhaps forgot to read the first part of this verse, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Are we living to the teachings in the Bible or have we interpreted the Bible to our own comfort?

 I recollected a sermon by our parish priest a year back, “We don’t want to be another extortion company, demanding money from my congregation with x & y amount. I understand that many people are not even able to have food on their tables. Give whatever you can to the Lord and we shall pray God opens our hearts to be willing givers.” I pray that God bless more and more preachers as our parish priest. In closing, my parish priest is an example of St Paul, a preacher awaking human spirit, praying for the community and doing something like Christ himself did on earth.

N Krocha

Chekiye Village Dimapur.

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