The Four Lives of The Church: Part – 4 Life of Engagement in the World


by Bishop Joseph Gregory D’Souza
Acceptance speech delivered at his consecration as the Bishop & Moderator of the Good Shepherd Community Church on 30th August 2014.

A Word from George Verwer


How I wish I could have been there when Bishop Joseph D’Souza gave this great and important message. I am so glad it is now it print and pray it can get wide circulation.This message is historic, visionary, relevant, encouraging and a must read for all us who love in India. Read it.We thank God for the rapid development and impact of the Church in India. We rejoice that the work of OM going back to 1964 has grown into this great church movement now known as the Good Shepherd Church of India and that Bishop and Moderator Joseph D’Souza continues to carry this great
leadership responsibility of the Church and its associated ministries.
My blessing is with this great work of God in India.
George Verwer,
Founder & Former International Director,
Operation Mobilisation

The Four Lives of The Church: Part – 4 Life of Engagement in the World

I love this part.

There has been a time in history, in the middle ages, when the Christian monks withdrew from life and took to an extreme form of ascetic emphasis. They tried to escape from the world, the body and human life which became tainted with sin and evil. Spirituality, for them, meant withdrawal from the world, when instead, the Master Himself became man and came into the world.

This withdrawal from the world led to the misunderstanding of Scripture. A whole stream of thought emerged that embraced a form of dualism. Life got divided into the spiritual and non-spiritual.

How and why was this done when Jesus came into the world because it was worth saving? The same monastic movement, which brought so much good, disappeared. They withdrew and became ascetics.

The Good Shepherd Church will continue to engage with life and the world. No area of life is outside of the lordship of Christ.

One of my heroes is Archbishop Romero of El Salvador who stood against the severe human rights abuse of the military junta in his own country. The military assassinated him.

Before his martyrdom he said, “I am going to speak to you simply, not as an Archbishop, but as a pastor, as one who together with his people has been learning the beautiful but harsh truth that the Christian is in the world. The church is not set outside a city. We are not a fortress outside of the city,” and added that “the church follows Jesus who lived, worked, struggled, and was killed in a city.”

Killed in a city, killed in the world! Engaging with the world, indeed!

Finally, I end with two comments which are critical in our understanding as the Good Shepherd Church.

We are the church. We are not an NGO. NGOs will always have a limited agenda. In other words, a limited shelf life. The Church is the firstfruits of the eternal kingdom, imperfect and human as she is.

Political kingdoms of the earth come and go. Organizations come and go. Political parties come and go. The Roman has gone. Caesar has gone.

However, Jesus Christ remains. The church remains.

The British Empire, the American Empire, the Chinese Empire or other empires will pass. Political parties go, empires come, and empires go.

Jesus remains, the kingdom of God remains and the church remains.

So we are not an NGO. Neither are we the State. The church is not called to be the State, nor should we hanker to be the State. The church tried to be the State in the past and it was a huge blunder.

I love the fact that Pope Francis, a few weeks ago, went into the Far East and stated, “We are not interested in world conquest!”

Did you hear that? Did you pick it up?

The church is not interested in conquering China. We are not interested in conquering India. The church should not conquer America. (Some American Christians think otherwise.) Some think we should have Christian governments. It is not a Biblical idea.

The church and the kingdom of God are different entities. They are in the world but not of it. They are the salt and light of the world. The church needs to transform and change the world at a fundamental level.

That is why Jesus said, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”

As Indians, we want to be patriots or nationalists as we understand that word. Westerners may not understand the meaning we give to nationalists. This comes out of our colonial experience. So as Indians, we want to be “Indian nationalists.”

While we admit we are not the State, we also say with courage to the State, “Don’t try to be our God. Do not take the place of God in our lives. Do not take the place of Jesus Christ in our lives. He is our Lord.”

If any State, Western or Eastern, forces itself as God and Lord on Christians, they will disobey. It is a disaster when a State or a political rule arrogates itself to the status of God.

When this conflict arises, Christians will obey God rather than man. This is the history of the church.

Nero thought he could be the Lord of the Christians and the church. Christians disobeyed and knew martyrdom was inevitable. Countless Christians have died for the truth that they are to worship God alone.

Christian martyrdom is a reality down through the centuries. Christian martyrdom continues in our world today. The last couple of decades have seen Christian martyrs in India including Graham Staines and his two sons.

So there it is: A loving, compassionate and just engagement in the world without compromising in the worship of God.

Life of the Mind, Life of the Spirit, Life of Labor and a Life of Engagement in the World: This is the call of the Good Shepherd Church.

One of the pivotal Scriptures for me for a couple of decades now is from Luke 4.

Jesus said, “The Spirit of God is upon me. I have good news for the poor; freedom for the prisoners; deliverance for the oppressed; and sight for the blind.”

That is what the Good Shepherd Church is about. This messianic call drives us, because we believe the God of the Bible who loves all has a bias. He has a bias towards the poor. He has a bias towards a sinner.

So, I am glad I am sinner because he has a bias towards me.

Jesus Christ has bias towards the outcastes, the marginalized, the women and the girls, and anybody who is vulnerable.

The Biblical God has a problem with the self-righteous. He has problems with the rich who hoard wealth, with those who judge others without looking at their own lives. He has problems with the Christian or non-Christian rulers who exploit the poor.

We serve this God who demonstrates his bias to the poor, the sinners, the prisoners, the sick, the abused and the downtrodden. He builds His church among them.

That is why it is so exciting to be a pastor and a Bishop in the Church of Christ.

May God bless you!

Glory to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Thank you.

+Joseph D’Souza
Bishop Moderator,
The Good Shepherd Church & Associated Ministries India.
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