The peace of frustration.
by MW Cook
Something neat happened a few weeks ago at the church in Sanghar. Ruth happened to be there that weekend. Among the Christians in Pakistan there are two main groups. The middle-class Punjabis and the lower-class Marwari folk. It’s easy to tell them apart by their dress and accent. The church in Sanghar has been historically Punjabi, even though the pastor (my father-in-law) is a Marwari. Usually it’s tough for the tribal folk to get to church on a Sunday. Many of them live a few hours away and they are too poor to afford the twenty cent ride into town. This is why when a dozen new Marwaris showed up it created quite an interest. In Pakistan most Punjabis are Muslim, and those who aren’t are Christians. Most Marwaris are Hindu, and those who aren’t are Christian. The Marwaris that showed up were Hindus, but they had been drawn in for some reason or another and were looking for a life change. My father-in-law called them to the front at the end of the meeting. They explained that they wanted release from the demons and evil spirits that were tormenting them. Devraj explained to them that forgiveness and freedom is only found in Jesus and His sacrifice and he commanded them to take off their charms and turn from the other gods and rest only with Jesus. They obeyed. It took about five minutes to get all the charms off. They were so excited! They threw the charms to the ground and stomped on them, praising Jesus for his provision and sacrifice. Needless to say, Ruth was very eager to talk to them after the meeting. And so she did. She sat with them for a long time, answering their questions and encouraging in their new walk. As she sat there a Punjabi lady walked by and with a look of distain said “Huh. Looks like you have some new friends, eh?”
You see, most people in this country will come right out and say, “I hate Marwaris.” Ruth, by virtue of her education and husband, is largely, though not completely, exempt from this discrimination. The Muslims hate them because they are Hindu and dirty. The Christians distain them because they are dirty and were Hindu. It shocked Ruth that someone who claims to follow Christ would express anything but joy at the prospect of new people turning from idols to Jesus. What an incredible mismanagement of priorities! Don’t they understand what’s eternally important? Don’t they grasp how we are all dust and completely equal in the sight of God? Don’t they see that God doesn’t give a rip if you speak Urdu, Punjabi, Marwari or English? Why don’t they get it?
The real shame is that my dear people group is no different. We express our screwed-up-ness in a very different way, but we are just as screwed, if not more so. I sometimes think that this racism thing is really just a massively sinful misunderstanding of what’s important. And we do the same thing in the West. How? We work for fifty hours a week to provide ourselves with all the modern crap and convenience we can find and devote two hours (if we can spare them) to a pretense of spiritual duty. We say it’s very important to love one another fervently and rejoice in the Lord and preach the gospel, but really we find good food and company far more vital. We have this idiotic idea in our head that HERE and NOW is all there is! But there is important news for us all. The universe existed before me and it will continue after the grass is growing over my grave. I’m here for ninety years, tops. What am I doing wasting my time with work and projects and all these silly little things that God will not ask me about?
You know me. I’m a hypocrite because I’m sitting here at a nice computer drinking a nice coffee while a few meters away there is a man sitting in the cold who has never heard a true thing about Jesus. Maybe I should go talk to him. Maybe I should figure out what’s important. Of course, we all KNOW what’s important. Maybe I should go DO what’s important. Maybe I should stop saying what I should do and just do and be it.
Pray for me,