Acting holy, holy
The paradox of the voice against corruption in Nagaland is that those who speak out against corruption are also the practitioners of corruption. If people shout against corruption from the rooftops, those who practice corruption would willingly join the chorus on the rooftops. A corrupt person can deliver a wonderful sermon on the evils of corruption if given a chance on a Sunday morning. The funny thing is that he/she won’t shy away from preaching if given a chance. Hypocrisy has become a normal behavior and we don’t seem to have any problem changing colors as the situation demands.
Tax collectors and prostitutes had a better chance of entering heaven than the holy, holy Pharisees. Those who are corrupt but at least do not act holy are at a better chance than many of us who act holy, holy. Those who drink alcohol, chew tobacco, beat their wives, play cards, and roam late in the evenings doing all sorts of evil deeds during hornbill festival may be closer to finding a solution to corruption than those who are hyperactive in various church committees, participating in holy land tours, donating huge amounts for various mission projects, and doing their best on church sales days. The intended point to be made here is that both can be corrupt, but at least one group does not try to act holy.
Maybe some people try to buy their way into heaven. They believe service and money will somehow make God a bit more lenient on them. They perhaps try to bargain and do business with God. If I give this much percentage to the poor and needy or to missionary work, it will somehow justify the remaining percentage that I keep for myself. Perhaps fasting and prayers are used to try to twist the arms of God, and think God will purify our wealth through those spiritual exercises. Perhaps some people think that wealth is equal to blessings and therefore more wealth means more blessings. Perhaps ‘greed’ is justified as ‘blessing’. When the Bible says, ‘ask and it shall be given’, maybe we think that we can have it all.
Why should a criminal be nearer to heaven than the man who acts religious? The Pharisees had more access to the knowledge of the kingdom of God. To know Jesus, they had quite a lot of background information, so to say. Although not in the true spirit, they have been performing the commands of God in spiritual worship. So, although not inside the kingdom of heaven yet, why should it be said to them that the criminals, prostitutes, and tax collectors are entering heaven before them? It is for the fact that criminals are nearer to repentance than the people acting holy, holy. For the criminal, there is condemnation from everywhere. Families condemn them, society condemns them, and their own conscience condemns them. Left and right, front and back, they face rejections and their crime is always before their own eyes. But not so for the hypocrites who think they are righteous and the hypocritical society which honors them.
We all know that our society is laden with corruption. But how many of us think that ‘I’ and ‘we’ are the source of the problem? We tend to think that someone else, or something else is the culprit and point fingers. But how about questioning if I/we may be also a contributor of the problem of corruption? We can ask ourselves, ‘If everyone were like me, will the society be any better than the way things are?’ If we look into the mirror and scrutinize ourselves, grill through our own motives and behavior, and find that we are not doing very well; we are nearer to finding a solution, not just for our own, but for our society. But if we continue our pharisaical or chameleon-like behavior, playacting high spiritual piety along with unbridled greed; we still have a long, long way to go.