Sunday Meditation

Psalm 19

No study, or thought for planned for today. Most of us will have our dose of teaching in Church. So if you’re using this, reflect on how these words of the Psalmist can become your own.

MONDAY: First things

Genesis 1:1-2:25

Questions to consider
What does Genesis 1 teach us about God? What questions does the passage answer? What questions does it not answer?

Some Thoughts
The biblical account of creation is one of the most important doctrines Christians hold today. Especially in the Indian-Hindu context, the biblical creation account promotes a view that there is indeed a difference between matter (world) and God, between humanity and God. This is unlike the atman-Brahman view in Hinduism that suggests an essential unity between God and the world.

Creation also introduces us to the idea of ‘good’ (unlike some a-moral ideas of philosophical religions and ideologies). Note that the ‘good’ defined here is not a ‘good’ that is functional (ie. good for a purpose), but rather God says something is ‘good’ in itself (eg. 1:9) as well as in relation to all things (1:31). The authoritative judgement of ‘good’ comes from God alone.

TUESDAY: Cultures, good or bad?

Genesis 11:1-9 and Genesis 12:1-9

Questions to consider
Was God being threatened by the ‘strength’ of men and common culture that He had to confuse people at Babel? Is the ‘confusion of languages’ a curse upon humankind, a blessing, or…? Why does the author of Genesis shift to Abram’s story right after the tower of Babel?

Some Thoughts
For a Jewish culture that spoke the same language (Hebrew) and lived in one place (Promise Land, Canaan), this Babel story could be surprising because in this passage singularity is depicted by God as something negative. However, the hint at understanding this passage seems to lie in knowing that cultures/people/nations are not a negative concept in the Bible. God’s plan includes culture. This is especially true when Abram (a story that is importantly positioned right after Babel) is promised that “all peoples on earth will be blessed” through him. Israel was conceived as a ‘missionary’ nation, to bless all nations/peoples. And consequently, the Church’s ‘missionary’ endeavour is to be a blessing to nations/peoples.

WEDNESDAY: Come Holy Spirit

John 16:5-16

Questions to Consider
Why didn’t Jesus stay on earth forever? If we were having a very successful ‘perfect’ ministry, job, would we leave? Why or why not?

Some thoughts
Contextual theology is different from contextualization because contextualization is what evangelists/missionaries need to do, while contextual theology (theology in context) is what local believers must do. Jesus was not anxious about the faith of His young church even though He was going away because He knew that the Holy Spirit would come and guide the disciples into all truth (v.12). This is encouraging, especially when we realise that the trusting in the Holy Spirit is God’s chosen way of doing theology; the Holy Spirit Himself guides us still today.

THURSDAY: Food, Law and Love

1 Corinthians 8-9

Questions to Consider
Is it possible that a Christian could eat prasad and it be considered right by God? Is it okay for some Christians to believe that prasad eating is absolutely wrong? Is it possible that the question of eating prasad is completely missing the point of the passage?

Some Thoughts
It seems as if Paul applies a principle of love rather than a principle of law. Thus, we are careful on what we eat because it may cause people to stumble (Cf. 8:13) Yet Paul also allows for a flexibility so that he may influence people (christian and those of other faiths) positively (Cf. 9:20-23).

Food is an important religious symbol in India; The Sikhs have the langad, the Muslims have the Id-feast, the Hindus have the prasad. In such a context, Paul’s advice seems to apply. We should be careful about participating in these events if our participation causes our weak brothers/sisters to stumble (or is in a disrespectful way to the other religions themselves). Yet at the same time, our association with people of other faiths (in the case that no one is caused to stumble) seems to be validated when through the Spirit we continue to love and interact with them.


FRIDAY: Seeing Jesus, Seeing Father

John 14

Questions to Consider
Even though this is one of the clearest testimonies of Jesus claiming divinity, why didn’t Jesus say He was God more clearly than this, or even more often? How can the meaning of this passage be confused in an Indian-Hindu context?

Some Thoughts
To say that Jesus reveals the Father is different from saying that Jesus tells us about God. It is also different from saying that Jesus is an expression of God. Here, Jesus claims equality with God in the full sense where we need not look for a further revelation of God once we see Jesus; ‘the buck stops there’. Jesus is the end of the road. This is significant for an Indian-Hindu context especially if we realise that Jesus claims to be the only way to the Father, the destination of our search for God, and the full and complete revelation of God. As an Indian ChristianI am constantly challenged at this point. I have tried not to be judgemental, I have tried not to be harsh to any other faith, I have been as sensitive as I can. But still people get angry with this idea, and obviously so. Because this claim of Jesus confronts their religious beliefs. What has helped me at this point is that this is Jesus’ claim, not mine. Meaning, I don’t tell people that Christianity is the only way to salvation. I don’t even need to say that Jesus is the only way to salvation. I need to proclaim (and note the difference) that Jesus himself SAID that HE was the only way to salvation.

SATURDAY: At the Cross

Matthew 27:27-66

Spend time in quiet reflection on the events depicted, and respond as the Lord leads.

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Passage for this Season

Philippians 2:11-13 (NIV) (12)Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, (13)for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

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