STATELESSNESS, THE DEFAULT STATE & STATUS OF CHRISTIANS?

A couple of days ago my daughter, who is a professor of law, had shared with us her recent lecture topic: Reduction of Statelessness in South Asia. It set me thinking about the issue of statelessness and its implications.

The international legal definition of a stateless person is “a person who is not considered as a national by any State under the operation of its law”. In simple terms, this means that a stateless person does not have a nationality of any country.

A stateless person is someone who, under national laws, does not enjoy citizenship – the legal bond between a government and an individual – in any country. In simple terms, a stateless person doesn’t have a belonginess or a sense of being part of a people. They do not belong anywhere and nobody has a care over or for them, by legal right or otherwise.

Being part of a community bestows identity as well as a sense of well-being because of the awareness of being part of a bigger whole. When some event happens, let’s say a disaster, then there is solace in knowing that we are not alone. There is comfort in knowing that we are all sailing in the same boat and others are working to help us.

This is why refugees so desperately seek to have citizenship status, so that they can become part and parcel of a country. They look for the care and concern that comes from being part of a nation. They seek the covering that comes from being part of a people. They yearn for the fellowship and friendship that comes from belonging to a community. They want a life that is solid and established instead of living on the margin of it.

Citizenship confers identity and recognition as people who have rights and legal standing. They are no longer nameless or lumped together as refugees, but exist in a sovereign state where they can carve out a life for themselves. Citizenship gives them security and settlement so that they are no longer aliens or wanderers.

In the Bible, Israel was birthed as a nation when they were delivered from bondage out of Eygpt and received God’s laws at Sinai. They became an acknowledged and accepted sovereign state only when they settled down and were established in a land. They were constituted as a nation and acquired an identity as a people only when they were rooted in a place and belonged to it.

Ancient India was made up of a number of disjointed states and kingdoms, becoming a united nation only after independence. A common flag, a code of conduct and a declaration provided statehood. Being a nation or state brings unity and imparts a sense of belonging and identity as a community.

Being part of a community and to savor the privileges of belonging is an essential need of the human psyche. Human beings need companionship, to belong and be together with others. One of the tenets and traits of the postmodern era is the need to be part of a group. That’s why, more than ever before, people are willing to adopt all sorts of behaviour or habits just to be ‘part of the crowd.’

In Eph 2:19-20 we read that: Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In I Cor we read that we have all been baptized to become one body, one people and one community.

The scriptures is clear that all who believe and call on the name of Jesus have been amalgamated into one new humanity, beyond the trappings and confining of caste, creed, color etc. As believers, we have an identity as the people of God living on this earth as the representatives and witnesses of heaven, bonding to live life together as His family and His household. The Apostle Paul prayed for the Ephesian church that the eyes of their heart may be enlightened so as to grasp the riches of His glorious inheritance in His people.

However, many who are born again and baptized in Christ live as aliens, full of an orphan spirit. They move around without no sense of identity since they lack community comprehension. They have no consciousness of the fellowship that comes with being a disciple of Christ. They wander around as refugees, feeling alienated and left out in this world.

The reason for this is two-fold: Either they are ignorant of the fact because they have not been taught of what they inherited in Christ; or they have rejected the fellowship of the saints since it involves responsibility and accountability . The former can be realigned and restored by proper teaching, but the latter are to be pitied since they have no understanding of the riches that identification with a community of faith brings.

Every one who is born of God must live as the beloved Sons and Daughters of the Most High. They need to have an understanding of the family they are part of and the entitlement that comes with bearing His Name.

Unfortunately, many are yet to grasp that they are citizens of the Kingdom of God, the apple of His eye and the people of His love. They are yet to recognise and realize their rights in Christ, the freedom that is their birthright and the authority that is theirs in Christ. They live as orphans, outcasts and ostracized, not as those who are the hope of the whole world.

Statelessness is real in His Church and among His people. Many a person in His Body walks around with the wounds of being aliens and castaways. Being aware of the need for a community of faith is core to living a purposeful life on earth. Being identified with a local family of God will purge the sense of lostness and abandonment in these times. Being committed and dedicated to the Body of Christ, the church of the Living God is of utmost importance in all seasons and turns of life.

Many people of God die, as Sir Walter Scott says (in his poem Breathes there a Man with soul so dead), Unwept, unhonour’d, and unsung, because they are stateless ie, not part of a local community of faith or the church of the Lord, sometimes by ignorance but often by choice!

*Pics courtesy google images

MEN AT REST

https://youtu.be/574GIafKlKA

When we travel by road and cross places where repair work is being done, we normally see the sign “CAUTION. MEN AT WORK”, but we never come across a sign that says “TAKE CARE. MEN AT REST”. Probably the only place we can expect to see something similar is at a cemetery, as an epitaph!

In the fast-paced activity-prone, post-modern world of today, rest is probably the most neglected and sidelined aspect of life. The word rest is often confused with vacation, which is time allotted by an employer for an employee to not be present at work.

Vacation is defined as taking a break from regular work or routine to relax. The concept of sabbatical leave, popular in the corporate world, is different from vacation and has come to mean a time period in which a person does not report to regular work. It is being given a chance to step back from regular routine to focus on personal enrichment and professional development.

Since the fall, rather than drawing security from a relationship with God, men’s self-esteem has become tied to their jobs and their achievements in the workplace. Retirement blues are real for men as they find it hard to live a life disassociated from work. They are prone to ill health and sudden heart attacks that often prove to be fatal.

Work is from God, but being addicted to work and receiving affirmation from the performing of it is detrimental in all respects. Work and rest were meant to be a rhythm of life rather than each of them being an obsession or as a means to self-worth!

Two pictures from the Bible come to mind when considering the aspect of rest for men – Christ asleep in the bottom of the boat and Jonah asleep in the bottom of the ship!

In both instances, a storm is blowing and the vessels in danger of sinking. Both men were resting in apparent oblivion, unaware of the mayhem surrounding them. Both were conscious and confident of God’s care and protection over their lives, yet not in the same way or manner.

One was resting in the calm confidence of doing God’s will and the perfect stillness of being in the core of His purposes. The other was resting in the stupor of knowing that he was out of His will and slept on in the uncaring indifference that continued disobedience brings.

When woken up, one rises up to take complete control of the situation, while the other finds the answer in passive acquiescence of guilt. One commands the winds and the waves into obedience, while the other quells the raging squall and seas through self-immolation! One would even die in obedience to the purposes of God, while the other would rather die than obey God!

Both brought deliverance and praise to God, but the manner in which they did it says much about how a man can find and be in true rest in contrast to pseudo-rest that disobedience brings!

Jonah’s stubbornness in not yielding to God and Christ’s willingness to submit to Him perfectly portrays the struggle in attaining rest by a man!

Christ shows the way to true rest and restfulness, both as God and man. While on earth He was never anxious, flustered or worried, so much so He could say ““Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Now, as God and seated on the right hand of the Father, He is waiting patiently for His enemies to become His footstool. Jesus is the perfect example and perfect episode of rest!

The Apostle Paul was also one who walked in this true rest even in the midst of a dangerous storm or when placed in a dungeon. He could encourage his fellow passengers to not despair and sing along with Silas when in a dark place. Daniel and Joseph demonstrate this same rest, even when accused wrongly and thrown into prison.

Scripture declares You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you (Isa 26:3 NIV).

May you our men, fathers, brothers, sons, grandsons as well as mentors and mentees, dwell in the shelter of the Most High so as to find rest in the shadow of the Almighty!

*Pics courtesy shutterstock.com and google images

DIVINE DEAL

The divine deal made us His very own,
Living to flavor the lives in the town,
To lighten the faces that sport a frown,
So His Father ‘s glory would be known!

The divine deal has given to us a kind master,
Who leads to green pastures & still waters,
What care do we fear when He is our provider,
Just seek His pleasure and no other treasure!

The divine deal has sealed us with His Name,
Making us truly the community of His fame.
With right attitudes we can truly bear His surname
With loving zeal let us be aflame!

Live this life with the standards of His Word,
That we might be the people of His eternal world.
Let that which is external not be our keyword
As we wait for Him crowned the only true Lord!

                        Sabina Tagore Immanuel
*Photo is courtesy unsplash.com