Disclaimer: I have borrowed ideas for this post from a sermon I heard from Pastor Philip Yalla at New City Fellowship, Bangalore. Here’s a link to a recording of the live-streamed service if you want to listen to the whole sermon: 27th November 2022 – The King Enters a Messy World – YouTube
The Lust for Power
In 52 BC, Julius Caeser defeated a Gallic army led by Vercingetorix and cemented Rome’s conquest of Gaul. This particular victory was one of those events that turned the course of history. Historians believe that one of the reasons why the Celts lost is that the Celtic tribes lacked unity. One tribe would ally itself with the Romans for the sole purpose of defeating a neighbouring tribe. Their lust for power often prevented them from seeing the larger threat to their entire culture.
The Celtic chieftains of Britain, much like the Celtic chieftains of Gaul, were driven by a desire for power and jealousy over fellow rivals. All of them failed to see that their idolatry of power would eventually lead to the downfall of their people and the loss of their identity. Only slight traces of the Celtic culture still survive today.
A very similar story played out when European traders arrived in the Indian subcontinent 15 centuries later. Indian rulers would ally themselves with European traders and often betray their own peoples and kings for petty political power.
A loss of identity — Exile and Colonisation
Between the 18th and 20th centuries, various Indian rulers bent over backwards to serve the British so they could have power at all costs. But that worked counter-intuitively and they faded into obscurity. The loss of identity worked at both a political level and a personal level.
Our history has played havoc on our culture. A generation of urban Indians today grow up with a confused identity about their culture, language and traditions. While they consume a large number of cultural products from the Anglo-American world, they live confused and conflicted lives in local Indian communities.
What happens a couple of centuries from now? Do indigenous cultures slowly get swallowed up? Does a global culture influenced by Hollywood and disseminated through the Internet take over the world?
I do not know.
The books of the 1st and 2nd Kings in the Bible draw out a narrative of the history of the people of Israel. A long line of kings flirted with the regional powers of the day such as Egypt, Assyria, Tyre, and Babylon, to gain power at all costs. They did this in spite of being in a covenant relationship with God.
Eventually, God punishes them for their breaking of the law and sends them into exile. They get the consequences their actions deserved — a loss of national identity while living in foreign lands. A people known as God’s own people were then called “Not-My-People.” (Hosea 1:9)
If the story repeats so often, is there hope for humanity? Are we bound to repeat the mistakes of our fathers?
Will we always be a people that is so caught up in our idolatry of self to our own destruction and loss of identity and purpose?
Hope for the Exiles and Oppressed — A Better King
A few decades after Julius Caeser’s defeat of the Celts, in the tiny Roman province of Judea, a baby is born in a stable — one who is called the ruler of the Jews (Matthew 2:2). This King was born into a nation struggling for its identity. And so he understands our circumstances and is suited to rescue us.
“Out of Egypt I called my son.” (Matthew 1:15)
He understands our pain of identity loss. He understands exile.
While he understands our circumstances, he offers hope to rise above these circumstances. Because this King is not power-hungry. When he was offered all the kingdoms of the world in exchange for idolatry, he refused. (Matthew 4:8-10). And instead took the long road to Kingdom — a road marked by suffering and the Roman cross of crucifixion.
A King, born in the midst of human pride and lust for power… A King, born in the midst of human sin and muck… A King, born to immigrant parents…
And a King who is the hope of the world — a hope to escape the twisted patterns of our lust for power and the consequences of idolatry.
“God is coming to be our king, our ruler. If you may balk at this suggestion of his authority, think about how we actually long so deeply for a good ruler. Think about how much time and ink is spent rightfully lamenting those people in power who act selfishly and unjustly. But Jesus will be a better king, the one for whom we have always longed. He is the king who sets captives free to be human and flourish He is a warrior, a judge, a protector and a lover. He fights for us, he pronounces us innocent, he comforts us, and he sings over us. This is the only king who deserves your service. Pray that he would reign in your life.”Justin Whitman Earley
Being Indian and Christian
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