×

The dream of a new India is emerging out of the old. This is now quite obvious to the citizens of this ancient nation and to much of the world outside.

But new India is like a kaleidoscope of many new trends and developments—a young population that is building a vibrant nation, a powerful economic resurgence, and its new stature as an emerging global power. All these are coming together in different ways to shape a glorious dream.

As Christians, we too must gaze into this kaleidoscopic dream of new India, work towards it and eventually enjoy its fruits. But the gospel must remind us that the fall corrupts everything. Every good dream (and reality) will also have ugly fault lines.

In any flourishing culture, these fragile fault lines are where the church is most called to serve. It is in these fault lines Christians will be most needed to bring to bear the full redemptive power of the gospel, even as the dream of new India unfolds in the coming years.

It is not hard to see three major fault lines that are already emerging in new India. Here is how Christians can bring to bear the ancient gospel as a healing balm into each of them.

Fault Line #1: The Stark and Cruel Reality of Income Inequality

India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. But it is also the most unequal.

According to Inequality Kills, a report released by not-for-profit organisation Oxfam in January 2022, the top 10% of people in India controlled 57% of the country’s wealth. The report went on to show that the wealth of just the 100 richest Indians equals the wealth held by the bottom 555 million people in the country.

There is every sign that income inequality in the new India is going to be even more acute than in the old.

Christians cannot ignore this cruel fault line. The gospel must not only call us to radical generosity, it must also compel us to persistent advocacy and impactful contribution to policies that ensure a more equitable distribution of existing income and wealth, as well as equitable opportunity to create new wealth.

The gospel responsibility of generosity (1 Tim. 6:17-18) must be paired with a pursuit of justice and godly activism to set wrong things right (Isa. 1:17).

There is every sign that income inequality in the new India is going to be even more acute than in the old.

We must not allow our selfish ambitions for our careers, the rush of city life or its pull and pressure to dull our hearts to the cry of the less privileged. Christians gifted with entrepreneurial skill and inclination must harness it to solve this glaring inequity problem. Those in the technology space must explore ways to use it to ease the pain of the poor. Those serving the poor in areas of education, healthcare and access to resources must be celebrated.

Churches must disciple congregations to remain sensitive to this divide, to pray diligently, and to serve sacrificially through more mercy and justice initiatives. We must not grudge taxes, but fervently exhort authorities to be more and more efficient in using tax receipts to administer benefits to the poor.

Fault Line #2: Entrapment of Young Lives at the Altar of Economic Growth

The services sector has been one of the prime engines behind India’s economic resurgence. Unlike the manufacturing sector where fixed factory work hours is the norm, the service economy has been ruthlessly making unreasonable demands from it employees. Whether it is the IT services sector or the booming Internet startups segment, long 12-14 hour work days are the norm.

It is not only external demands that are entrapping young executives; internal desires are equally enslaving too. Economic growth has led to a meteoric spurt in consumption-comfort idolatries. A better home, a bigger car, more indulgent dine outs, the next exotic holiday. Since the inordinate desires are endless, the labour for it is endless too. Often inordinate desires are fulfilled by falling into debt, leading to even more enslavement. It is a vicious cycle swallowing up young lives.

Even greater than the economic aspirations and the inordinate consumption longings is the quest to build a name and identity for oneself through a successful career. In a performance driven culture where one is only as good as the last project completed or the last deal closed, a career-based identity can be unceasingly enslaving.

All of this is leading to deteriorating physical health, emotional health problems, dysfunctional marriages and indifferent parenting. Sadly, in this respect, there is not much to tell the difference between those inside the church and those outside it.

Since we are loved by God, we freely receive a value, worth and significance infinitely greater than any successful career can give us.

Our performance-driven culture desperately needs to respond to Christ’s call to the weary and heavy laden (Matt. 11:28-30). The gospel of grace is a gospel of rest. We are loved by God not because of our good works, but because of Christ’s good work on our behalf.

Since we are loved by God, we freely receive a value, worth and significance infinitely greater than what any successful career can give us. This frees us to labour in our career joyfully and faithfully without being enslaved by the fear of failure or by the constant pressure to do one better.

In this exasperatingly driven world, Christians indeed have a glorious opportunity to be a compelling and winsome gospel counter culture—joyfully choosing service instead of selfish striving, a healthy work-rest-life balance instead of the rat race, and in living and displaying gospel attributes like contentment, peace, a wise fearlessness and the faith and courage to rest.

Fault Line #3 : The Ruthless Crushing of Dreams in Cities

The future holds a massive inflow into the big cities of India. About 217 million new people will move into India’s cities over the next 14 years, according to a forecast by the group set up by India’s National Commission on Population.

India’s urban population is tipped to grow by 57% to a total of almost 600 million people, as reported by The Wire. Nearly 10 million people are expected to move from rural regions to New Delhi alone by 2030, according to the 2016 World Cities Report from the United Nations.

Often, affluent urban Christians take more from the city than we give to it. Our engagement with the city can be indifferent, transactional and sometimes simply self-serving parasitical attachment.

People come to cities with dreams, with hopes of a better life and a brighter future. Some will realise the dream but many will live in hunger and poverty and bear the brunt of crimes. Countless women will be trafficked and children abused. Sadly, millions of dreams will be heartlessly crushed.

How should the urban church respond and reach out to the flood of people streaming into India’s cities?

Often, affluent urban Christians take more from the city than we give to it. Our engagement with the city can be indifferent, transactional and sometimes simply self-serving parasitical attachment. Churches must disciple urban Christians in the gospel towards a change of heart that changes their view and engagement with the city. We must call members to love the city—especially its poor and oppressed—serve it, and work for its shalom (Jer. 29:7).

Christians must avoid the error of triumphalism—we can solve all the problems if we pray and work together; and the error of defeatism—we cannot do anything because the problems are too big.

We are called to seek the shalom of the city with all our strength and yet also remember that no present city will be transformed to perfection with any social program. We must live in the city of man and pour ourselves out sacrificially for its flourishing even as we long and groan for Christ to come back and establish the city of God here on earth.

As the dream of new India unfolds in the coming years, these three fault lines (and others too) will only deepen. This is where Christians are most called to live the Gospel out and be the salt that preserves our new India.

To live and serve in these fault lines, we must embrace our Saviour, who lived, died and rose again to bridge the greatest fault line between God and man. Christ who was rich became poor so that we may become rich through his poverty (2 Cor. 8:9). He who had the greatest work to accomplish, did it from a place of resting in his Father’s will. He was crucified outside the city gate (Heb. 13:12), so we could one day enter the eternal city where all the fault lines will be forever gone.

Newsletters

Let us get TGC delivered to your inbox!

LOAD MORE
Loading