Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Poke someone on Face....

"And let us consider hot to provoke one another to love and good deeds"
Heb 10:24

Heb 10:19-25

"Poke" someone in the Facebook is well understood. But, its a surprise to know that there is a Biblical way to "Poke" someone. Here, poke should be pushed to the point of provoking. Provoke is a strong word and most of the translations preserve the word, while some use "encourage" and "stir." Even though Provoke may sound antithetical (directly opposed) idea where to love, but, that is how God wants us to provoke someone, or simply, keep poking someone today.

Keep poking? yes, push them to a point of irritation (provocation) to an action of love and good deed. How wonderful is this idea. Encourage is not the word here, but, provocation is. Push someone to the edge to have them do something wonderful. This is an exhortation to the whole of Christian community to practice. The usual provocation of teasing each other should cease and here something new should begin. Though there is nothing new about it, only the end differs. Lets all, poke, provoke and push someone to a good deed of love.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Life... Tested OK...

Prov 27:21; Sirach 2:1-6; Mark 3

Scriptures say we have to go through two furnaces in life in order to be tested. One is the furnace of praise (Prov 27:21) and the other furnace of humiliation (Sir 2:5). How true, the more we are praised, we tend to loose our reality. And the more we are humiliated, we loose ourselves and feel depressed. So how to handle this? There are people who have realized the need for humiliation, which brings them to level ground, when they are puffed up by pride or by praise. Paul writes that "I have a thorn in my flesh," (2 Cor 12:6-8) and in the book of Proverbs we read "make me neither rich nor poor" (Prov 30:8). Jonathan Carrol in White Apple writes "If you are a success in life, there are places you must go and pay to be humiliated." What a strong statement.

In Mark 3, Jesus went through the same trying task in his own life. We was made to pass through the furnaces of life. He was called as "Son of God", "One who is out of his mind" and as "Beelzebub, chief of Demons." How did Jesus handle these furnaces? When he was praised he commanded them to be quite (Mk 3:12), and when he was humiliated, he put his trust in God (Mk 3:29).

This could be a great lesson for our life, when we go through the furnaces of life. When we are praised we take no praise for ourselves and stay strong in the saving grace of our God, when we are humiliated. The whole idea could be summed up in St. Paul's words "I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think..." (Rom 12:3).

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Mouth and Heart...

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight,"
Psalm 19:14

Psalm 19

The nature declares the Glory of God without any voice or words, yet, their voice can be heard throughout all the world. Paul Tillich writes " These voices of the universe are not heard by human ears; they do not speak in human language. But they exist, and we can perceive them through the organs of our spirit... The psalmist has heard it; he knows what the stars are sounding: the glory of creation and its Divine Ground."

The question is what fills our heart and mouth? our meditation and our words, does it declare the glory of God? Are we learning from God's creation? The immense glory of God that fills all around us.

The quote is from an article written by Paul Tillich, titled The Shaking of Foundations. This article can be accessed from

Friday, 25 January 2013


"...the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus,"
2Tim 1:1

2Tim 1:1-8; Mk 3:20-21; Ps 96: 10-13

Amidst terrorism, misogyny, death, suicides, and unheard voices, crying from the margins of our society out of oppression, what is the promise of life? The challenge is, in today's world, how do we relate this promise of life that is in Christ Jesus. This Promise of life rests on righteousness, truth, equity and judgement (Ps 96:10-13). A Christian is an Apostle, for the sake of this promise of life.

In order to proclaim this promise, one cannot shy away from the calling to confront the world with the spirit of love and self-discipline. And relying in the power of God to face suffering, which comes along with confronting the world. The world which perpetuates sin and death. People came to Jesus because he gave them life, his own life, so far, that he was regarded as one who was out of his mind.

How far are can we go to give our life?

Thursday, 24 January 2013

All the World...

"And now why do you delay? Get up.."
Acts 22:16

Mk 16:15-18; Acts 22:3-16

Today's reading calls Christians to become witness of Jesus Christ in this World. In Acts 22, we hear Paul witnessing to his conversion. How to become a Christian witness? even before answering that question, we need to know, Who is a Christian? and What to witness?

In order to answer the first question, what makes a Christian a Christian? A Christian is one who is "called by God in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit." This Call is an Invitation and a Demand to take on a particular inward and outward lifestyle of Love for God and our Neighbors. Then, a Christian is the one who is obedient to this command. Now, What to Witness? Here, witness is not a self-talk about how we received God's grace in our life but pointing to God. Characters in the Bible do not talk about themselves but talk about God's grace. We hide our ego and spend our-selves (self), that is true witnessing. A distinct and unique mark in a Christian witness is that there is a self-giving of Christ to a Christian and Christian to Christ.

Witnessing is going to all the World (Mk 16:15). Christians are co-workers with God for making history, that is Salvation history for the World. We participate in history of this world along with God, in renewing and fulfilling his covenant with all his creation (Mt 16:15).

Therefore a Christian is one who points at God and work along with God in the salvation history of the World. This salvation history is renewing and fulfilling of God's covenant with all creation.


*I have based this article on
Terry J. Wright "Witnessing Christians from Karl Barth's Perspective", Evangelical Quaterly (2003), 239-255.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013


".. armour-bearer said to him, 'Do all that your mind inclines to."
1 Sam 14:7

1Sam 14:1-15

Some people have radical vision like Jonathan, to climb a steep rocky crag. Some people have vision to fight against all odds. Some people have a monstrous vision to 'change the world'. Jesus had a vision of Reign-of-God (Kingdom of God) which was a upside down kingdom. Today few Christians still share in that vision. The vision and mission of 'Changing the World' around us.

But, those Jonathan's and Christ's who are radical visionaries and missionaries need armour-bearers who are willing to stand by that vision. Who are willing to put their life on the line for that mission and who are bold to say "I am with you heart and soul" 1 Sam 14:7 (ESV).

Who are you today? Visionary or Armour-bearer. Both are needed for God's World Changing Mission. If you are Visionary share your radical vision to others God will provide Armour-Bearer's. If you are Radical believer, support a Visionary, towards Changing the World.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Raise and come forward

"Stand up where I can see you"
Mk 3:3 (MSG)

Mk 3:1-6

"Raise up into the middle" is word by word Greek translation of English rendering "Come forward". These are the words of Jesus to man who had a withered hand. When the world around us calls for excellence and perfection. It is Jesus Christ who calls for the weak and foolish of the world (1Cor 1:26-29). What is your excuse for today? for not hearing God's call.

Raise yourself and come forward.

Carpe Diem...

“The future depends on what you do today.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

Mk 2:23-28

Carpe Diem is a latin phrase translated as "seize the day".

There are no special days to do something good, every day is our Lord's day. So, why to wait for a good day? When Pharisees criticized Jesus for working on Sabbath day, Jesus said Sabbath (Lord's Day) is made for human and not humans for sabbath day. So seize your day today. And as long is it "today" (Heb 3:13) encourage one another. Don't look for another day start today.

Seize it ...

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Get Drunk...

"new wine into fresh wineskins"
Mk 2:22

Mk 2:18-22; Lk 5:36-39

New wine deserves a new wineskin, every revolutionary thought needs new minds to hold it. Old ways of thinking do not appreciate change, they fear change, they unreasonably appreciate the old ways (Lk 5:39). But our God, who makes all things new (Rev 21:5) and makes everything beautiful in time (Ecc 3:11) calls for renewing of mind for transformation (Rom 12:2). Let us therefore, look ahead with a reborn mind and body look forward for God's paradigm change and get drunk with new wine (Acts 2:13). The world may mock, the old wineskins around us may not accept but it is God who has prepared a new wine (John 2:10).

Get drunk, start something new...

Friday, 18 January 2013

Going Home...

'we have never seen anything like this!'
Mk 2:12

Mk 2:1-12

In earlier times in Eastern countries to be sick is to loose one's standing within the social circle. And to be healed is to be restored to social circle again (Malina 1998, 113-4). What we have today is what scholars would call as 'quest story' (Painter 1997, 50). This passage talks about a paralyzed man who is helped by his four friends, to reach Jesus in a crowed house. And Jesus forgives his sins and heals him and commands him to go home.

This story is all about "going home." Jesus restores that person's health by healing him and forgiving his sins. Sickness has an effect of sending us away from home and the same applies to Sin it sends us away from God. To be healed is to go back home. Jesus restored that person's relationship, socially with his family and spiritually with God.

Healing should make us go back home. Sometimes we may think that forgiveness of Sins demands a life away from the world. But, the opposite is true, our restoration, our healing from our sins, should takes us back into the world. It should take us back to our home, to proclaim the love of God to all the World and to our Home (family, friends, etc.,). This going home after being restored, brings glory to God. We live as one who is forgiven, healed and restored. And people shall testify saying we have never seen anything like this.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Proclaim Freely...

"..he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word.."
Mk 1:45

Mk 1:40-45

An interesting passage where a man with leprosy meets Jesus and gets himself healed. Jesus asks him not to tell anyone but to go to the priests and do what Moses had commanded. But, this man went out and began  to freely tell everyone about Jesus and spread the word.

What an interesting personality, he transcends the commands of Moses and all the rituals, he no longer wants to be in a system where there is oppression in the name of God. But, he chose to talk about Jesus, he was not preaching a codified religion, but, he was spreading the news about Jesus - a person who has touched his life. Probably he was the first one to begin what we call "New Testament", he chose to live a New Testament possibility.

What are we waiting for, all you have to do is talk about the person Jesus Christ who has touched your life. Proclaim Freely. Spread the Word.


".. he struck him on the hip...he passed Penuel, limping"
Gen 32:25,31

Gen 32:25-32

Jacob's encounter with God resulted in limping while Saul's encounter resulted in blindness (Acts 9:8). God heals and he breaks. He can make the lame walk (Mt 21:14) and the walking lame. This limping was a clear sign that Jacob did see God face to face (Gen 32:30). Limping was a permanent change that Jacob carried in his body after he met God. He never walked the same again. He started limping. But this disabled man has seen God's face, survived death, he had looked into the face of eternity.

Physically dis-abled (mentally or physically, minor disabilities or major ones)? you are the only abled-body who can witness about God.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Paradoxical Victory..

"he adorns the humble with victory"
Ps 149:4

Psalm 149

Being "Humble" is very hard to define, experience or even talk about, because it can easily slip into naivety or falsity. Humility is seen as weakness, but God loves the humble. Becoming truly humble can take a life time or even more. It is here the God's word gives us encouragement saying when we attempt to live a life in humility God will give us strength. The strength to understand and live out our life in humility is victory with which we are adorned.

“True humility does not know that it is humble." - Martin Luther

Thursday, 10 January 2013


“A thought, even a possibility, can shatter and transform us.”
 - Friedrich Nietzsche

Luke 4:16-21

Passage here is referred to as 'Nazareth Manifesto', which displays Christ's mission proclamation. His mission is to proclaim good news to the poor and liberate the oppressed. Dalit Theology takes up this manifesto seriously for an emancipatory reading.

But the focus today in our reading is Lk 4:21, Jesus gives an enigmatic reply to his audience saying “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” This is something incredible. Jesus boldly asserts to his audience that the scripture passage is fulfilled in their hearing. Nothing can be more outraging, comical and awesome all at the same time than these words. What seriousness! What tremendous proclamation! what a commitment to God's Word.

Now this tremendous possibility of bringing God's Word to life in our own existence is open to us through Christ's proclamation. Let this possibility, shatter and transform us to have a scripto-possible existence in our life.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Good Governance..


Psalm 72:1-4,12-14

In the recent economic crisis in our country with price-hike's in every commodity (recent being the Railway Fare's), it is obvious that the weaker section of the people are most affected. And also the recent communal violence against Dalits in South India where resurgence of caste based violence are becoming rampant. What should a good governance focus on? There are many theologians who are providing us with good insights on Public Theology, like Paul Tillich, Rienhold Niebuhr and in Asian Context particularly from India we can talk about Felix Wilfred. The following is a reading from Psalm 72.

This Psalm talks about what a good King should do. A King should act with Justice, he should defend the afflicted among the people, save the children of the needy and it does not stop there, goes on to say he should be bold enough to crush the oppressor of his people. A good governance should be able to protect the oppressed and stop the oppressor. Are you at the place of Leadership? think of how effective is your leadership for a God-oriented governance.

Monday, 7 January 2013


"every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess...this is the spirit of the antichrist,.." 1John 4:2-3

1John 4:1-21

When we talk about Antichrist what immediately pops up in our mind is images of a movie or 666 or some terrifying sermon that some Pastor preached from the Book of Revelation. Here we have a clear indication of who an Antichrist and also a distinction of Spirit from God and the Spirit of Error (1John 4:6). And moreover the reading shows that the spirit of Antichrist is already in the world (1John 4:3). Moreover this passage helps us to identify the Antichrist. So, who is this Antichrist? the answer is anyone who does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in flesh is Antichrist. Anyone who does not accept or believe the fact that Jesus Christ did not come in flesh is Antichrist. Why is it so important to believe that Jesus Christ came in flesh?

It is easier to give a salvific (soteriological) answer, that we need to believe because he came in flesh to forgive our sins, which is true. However, for Indian context, there is a deeper implication of incarnation of Jesus Christ. The very act of Son of God taking on human form and participating in humanity is making humanity participate in divinity, making all humanity (flesh) sacred (image of God). Athanasius remarked "[the Word] was made man that we might be made God.."

If we truly believe that Jesus Christ came in flesh (human form) then his very participation in humanity has made all humans divine. How then can one who confesses to believe in Christ can believe in "caste-system" which divides and (de)grades people. Antichrist here is one who believes there is pollution and grading in human birth according to "caste-system" (varnashrama dharma). We cannot believe in incarnation of Christ and believe in "caste". We cannot participate in the body of Christ (eucharist) which is uniting and then divide that body in view of "caste-system". If we do that we are the Antichrist, liars and spirit of error and the Spirit of God is not in us we are not to be called as Children of God. It is a sad and sorrowful situation that Church and the so-called "Christians" still practice "caste". Antichrist's are within.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Let me see

"Let me see again"
Mark 10:51

Mark 10:46-52; Mark 8:22-25

John Newton (1725-1807) a former slave trader after his conversion wrote this beautiful song, 'Amazing Grace'. The song contains some of most memorable lines, one of which reads like this.

"Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind but now I see."

The real conversion is made evident in these lines, I was blind but now I see. It is the 'seeing' that makes real conversion. God insists on us seeing clearly. In the Old Testament, God is persistent on his servants seeing clearly, look at these questions that God poses to his prophets, Jer 1:11; Zec 5:2; Amos 8:2; Ezek 47:6.

It is important that we see things clearly in this present commerce-oriented and ideologies-laden world. Where god(s), spirituality and religion's are being commodified and disparities in social and economic levels leaves us blinding in certain ways of not knowing which is true.

However our perception can be corrected by seeing the image of God (imageo Dei) in the other, that is the real seeing. When we are blinded we see others as 'trees' (Mk 8:22-26), we are insensitive to others. Paul Ricoeur in his book 'Oneself as Another' talks about this seeing the other as ourselves. ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ (Mk 12:31). Lets pray to God for this Seeing.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Where are you staying?

"Where are you staying?"
John 1:38

John 1:35-42

We encounter a very interesting yet a difficult question today. When Jesus asked his disciples "what do you seek?" or what you are looking for? disciples asked another question about his whereabouts. It becomes more interesting when we see his disciples followed him to his place, although no particular location is mentioned in the narration. They came, they saw, they stayed (John 1:39).

However, we can tend to answer this question in a more mystical way by referring to the in-dwelling (antaryami) presence of God (John 15). But what does it really mean to answer this question, where is he staying? What is the site of God's presence today? Where can we find God today? more carefully, Where is he residing?

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Lamb of God

John 1:29-34; 1John 2:29-3:10; Psalm 98

John brings out two dimensions of Jesus. He presents Jesus as 'Lamb of God' and 'Son of God'. Jesus is presented as Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Here the sin is cannot mean personal failure and guilt, Felix Wilfred a prominent Asian theologian remarked that Christian holiness is always been limited to focus on personal holiness. But sin here is termed as 'Sin of the World', which should be understood as collective experience of failure.

This failure is mentioned in the epistle of John (1John 3:10) as distinguishing between children of God and children of the Devil. The factor that distinguishes between the both is the love that is shown towards brothers and sisters (humanity). So it is this sin of hatred among fellow beings is the sin that is to be avoided and need to be saved from. This sin of hatred for humanity can be seen in crimes against dalits, women and the poor of the society. Bible talks about this sin in Genesis in the story of Cain and Abel which perpetuates throughout history.

Here the Lamb of God who came to take away the sin of the world, came with compassion, love and sacrifice on the cross to show love for humanity and fellow beings. As children of God, the challenge for us today is to live a life of love for fellow beings, with the help of Holy Spirit which descends like a dove (symbol of peace) and abides in our hearts.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Who are you?

"Who are you?" - John 1:19

Reading: John 1:19-28; Isaiah 40: 3-11; 1John 1:18-25

In a world ridden with identity politics and factions based on caste and color, it is a challenge for the church and every christian to be aware of her or his own identity, what we might call a proper Christian or Messianic or Prophetic identity. The reason to use Christian, Messianic and Prophetic is because every disciple of Christ should be a Christian. Not in the sense of superfluous identity, but by deep relationship formed by constant abiding in Christ (1 John 1:24).

Secondly, it is Messianic and Prophetic. When asked to John the Baptizer, "Who are you?" he came up with a profound prophetic statement. He affirmed saying "I am the voice.." (John 1:23). This 'voice' will make way for coming of God for Reign of God. This voice will make valleys lifted up, mountains low, uneven ground level and rough places plain (Isaiah 40:4,5).

Therefore every believers' identity should have threefold dimension (Christian, Messianic and Prophetic). Our identity remains as a voice, not just a voice in the crowd but a distinct voice that would be able to critically question the disparities and evil in the world. This voice has task to prepare the way for the God, for a reign of God. The task is to make a level ground - raising the valleys and bringing down the mountains. Indeed its a challenge, and thereby it is prophetic because we are challenge the mountains of the world, the oppressive structures which bring in disparities, and we fill in every valley to raise it up, this prophetic call is to envision a straight path an egalitarian society for the reign of God to flourish.

Wherever it may be, we should remain as a 'Voice' bearing the messianic words of witness. We need to challenge the high, low attitudes primarily within families, within our churches and in everyplace. Church really has to prepare itself, there can be no place for high-low, rich-poor, clean-unclean, educated-ignorant, favored-rejected and we need to become egalitarian for us enjoy the presence of God. For this vision to accomplish we need to become a 'Voice' the real identity of a believer.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

For Freedom...

Galatians 5:1a

"For freedom Christ has set us free."

Christ has given us freedom from religious legalism, in other words from the works of the law (circumcision, etc). However we need to re-look into our own (spiritual/religious/church) tradition today and find out if there be any legalism that binds us from experiencing this freedom. It was circumcision for early christian community, what is it for us today?

This freedom calls for a radical turn, we are free, but our freedom is not for self-pleasure but to become slaves for everyone (Gal 5:13) through love. What a contradiction? And moreover Paul says that the only thing that counts is 'faith working through love' (Gal 5:6) no legalism matters.

Freedom, Faith, Love. Love for others, faith in God and freedom in Christ. Freedom in Christ is actually becoming nailed to cross (Gal 6:14) and dying in order to resurrect through the power of the Holy Spirit in becoming slaves of faith and working out love instead of law.

This is radical demand of being part of Kingdom (Reign) of God, this contradiction, this upside down meaning of 'freedom' is to be realized as essential part of realizing Christ's freedom. It is truly for freedom Christ has set us free. Freedom from ourselves. This seed has to die.

Welcome 2013

Dear friends, this is my humble effort of trying to meditate word(s) of God - seeds (John 12:24), is what I would like to call them. But the real challenge ahead is to experience the death of that seed in our being and realize a perfect resurrection, that is to realize the potential of that seed in regenerating us and helping us to see the world through God's word.

I will attempt to post a reflection of my own, as a kind of initiation for a dialogue to enrich the soil, for the seed to die and resurrect from within us. As you may well know you are free to post your comments and jog along in meditating God's word.

Amos Swaminathan