“We have converted the God-given tokens of trust into that of suspicion”, Most Rev.Dr.Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury once said. Scripture, Faith, Theology, Community, and Witness are tokens of trust meant for our well being. When these tokens of trust are not used for the well being of all, we convert them tokens of suspicion.
Scripture is indeed a token of trust given to our care for our well being and of all. Therefore we should not belittle the Scripture. In our study and interpretation of Scripture, we can employ two methods to understand the text holistically. One method is the Integrated Reading. We need to read the Bible as a whole and not in part. The other method is Perspectival Reading. A perspective is important to understand the central thrust of the Scripture. For me, life in all its fullness is the central motif of the Bible and we need to bring this out in our interpretation process.
Faith is again a token of trust given to our care for our well being and of all. Faith is best expressed in the words of the Creeds. Every time we recite the Nicene Creed or the Apostolic Creed, we affirm our faith in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. But sad to say, we have converted this precious token of trust to one of suspicion. We often question the basic tenets of our faith. To appropriate facts with a critical mind is in order. But to go on questioning the basis of our faith such as the Virgin birth, resurrection of our Lord etc. as if these have nothing to do with us is going too far. We need to keep Faith as token of trust and not as a token of suspicion. Only then can Faith cater to the well being of all.
Theology is yet another token of trust given for our well being and of all. Theology is a discourse on God. Our understanding of God is crucial to find meaning in our life and work. The God of the Bible is God who is Omnipotent, omniscient and Omnipresent. But limiting our understanding of God only to these attributes is limiting God self. The Biblical God is also a God of Pain, a God of relationships, a God of Creation and New Creation and a God of the margins. This holistic understanding of God is very important as it helps us to realize that God is not simply a myth but a reality who accompanies us in our journey of life identifying with us in our joys and sorrows.
Community is indeed a token of trust for our well being and of all. In a Christian community, there are two types of relationships- immediate relationships (I like you, you like me - or don’t like me, as the case may be); then there are mediate relationships, where, because you are bound to Christ and I am bound to Christ, so we are bound to each other. Christian communities usually go through a stage where immediate relationships are found not to be enough to keep things together because they rely on our work, our emotions, to succeed. True Christian community is found in the second, a commitment to love one another because Christ has loved us.
Witness is also a token of trust given for our well being and of all. When we talk about Christian Witness, we are often led to Mathew 28: 18-20. We often ignore other equally important mission texts found in same Gospel of Mathew such as Mathew 5 : 13-14 and Mathew 10 : 1-42. When these texts are studied, we realize that Christian Witness is to be rendered in absolute powerlessness and dependence on God. The texts also show that Christian Witness is not just verbal proclamation but rather Christian witness is being. An overemphasis of one text over the other can lead us to a distorted missiology.
May God enable us to regard the above gifts of God as tokens of trust and not as tokens of suspicion so that we through these gifts contribute towards making the world a better place to live in, paving the way for all to experience that life in its fullness which our Lord offers to all.
Rev. Dr. M. Mani Chacko