Hard, Messy, and Uncomfortable

Kuki Rokhum   |   April 24, 2019 

Remember those days when we all travelled by train? It was during that period when a friend and I boarded an overcrowded train from New Delhi Railway station heading towards Guwahati. Due to the summer rush, we managed to get reservation only in the second class sleeper. That time also happened to coincide with some big event in Bihar. As we squeezed into our ‘confirmed’ rightful seat I counted the number of people around me – there were 24 in a space meant for 8! It was impossible to even go to the toilet. These Biharis . . .  resentful thoughts crept into my mind. It was a relief and joy for us when we eventually reached Bihar, as the 'annoying' Biharis got off and our journey continued comfortably.

Soon after that, I started working. This was also the time when most of us travelled by bus – well before the metro and Uber. I had to change at least 2 and sometimes 3 buses to get to work. I got onto the bus clean and in my best work clothes, but my fellow passengers were not so clean. The poorer they looked, the dirtier they seemed to be. I would get off dirty and dishevelled, annoyed that I had to arrive at work like that.

These two experiences have remained with me, not only because they were uncomfortable but because they challenged me to reflect on my attitude and my perception of a God of love and justice. I call myself a follower of Jesus and I even work full-time for an organisation that serves the poor and marginalised. I have many friends who are ‘missionaries’ – who have left the comfort of their homes and countries to embrace new communities in obedience to God’s calling.

If God called me to serve Him in Bihar, I would probably stand in church and with the deepest passion and commitment declare my love for the people of Bihar. Yet, in that crowded train, when they occupied my space and greatly inconvenienced me, loving them was the last thing on my mind. If I cannot love them in that space how dare I say I love them in any other space?

The ironic thing about the end of my crowded uncomfortable bus journeys where I was annoyed by the poor all around me, was that I arrived at my air-conditioned building and in the comfort of my plush office ‘worked’ for the poor.

It is so easy to talk about love and justice from the comfort of our own space. I am sure if love and justice were this easy God would have preferred to exhibit His love and justice from the comfort of heaven. Yet God chose to ‘empty Himself’ becoming ‘nothing’ – a mere human being – and humbled himself to the point of death on a cross (Philippians 2:7). All very messy and pretty uncomfortable.

In my journey of learning to show God’s love and justice, I have learned it is not easy or comfortable. Justice is not just about clicking or forwarding the rights posts or raving and ranting especially when the injustice happens to me. It is about being shaken and bothered and moved to action even to the point of loss. It is about loving even the most annoying. It is not easy, but it can start from a simple act of loving those that I find hardest to love, to treat everyone with respect and dignity, and to constantly check my attitude. It is about imitating the attitude of the One who chose to become human, who chose to die a most horrible death – as the song says,

“Grace and love, like mighty rivers
Poured incessant from above
And Heaven's peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love”

What Jesus did was an amazing package of love and justice . . . for a guilty world. Let’s check our attitudes and actions. I am still learning every day and correcting my thoughts and behaviour. Because love and justice do not come from a place of comfort and complacency, they are found in the hard, messy and uncomfortable moments of life.

 

Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

 

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Kuki Rokhum

Kuki (Lalbiakhlui) Rokhum works in EFICOR (The Evangelical Fellowship of India Commission on Relief) based in New Delhi in the Training Department.

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One comment on “Hard, Messy, and Uncomfortable”

  1. Thank you so much for this post. It was a gentle but much needed correction for me today. How difficult it is to love others sometimes, but one look at Jesus' example and I am completely without excuse. Beautifully written!

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