The Chowkidar Movement and Lessons We Draw

After clinching a thumping majority in the Parliamentary elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi removed the prefix chowkidar from his twitter profile. His tweet read: “Now, the time has come to take the Chowkidar Spirit to the next level. Keep this spirit alive at every moment and continue working for India’s progress. The word ‘Chowkidar’ goes from my Twitter name but it remains an integral part of me. Urging you all to do the same too!”

He had prefixed chowkidar to his twitter profile in response to the ‘chowkidar chor hai’ campaign launched by his political opponent Rahul Gandhi in the wake of allegations regarding a defence contract signed between the Indian government and Dassault Aviation for the coveted Rafale Jets.

While the chowkidar chor hai campaign was gaining momentum, Shri Modi counter attacked with ‘main bhi chowkidar’ movement.

As he launched it, he wrote to his followers: “Your Chowkidar is standing firm & serving the nation. But I am not alone. Everyone who is fighting corruption, dirt and social evils is a Chowkidar. Everyone working hard for the progress of India is a Chowkidar. Today, every Indian is saying—#MainBhiChowkidar”.

Prophets of the Old Testament were watchmen to God’s people. They heard from the throne room of God and faithfully delivered to the people. They were not popular among the people and often faced hardships for being faithful

This became a movement and the trend was followed by lakhs of his followers on the social media as they added chowkidar to their profile names. The 2019 elections, in short, became a battle between chowkidar chor hai and main bhi chowkidar.

Chowkidar, meaning ‘watchman’ in English, is not a new word for us, especially in a Christian context. Chowkidari is something that we are entrusted with by our God. When we fail in our duty to watch over—and be accountable to God—what He has entrusted us with, we lose it all. The consequences could be devastating and the loss irrecoverable.

In the Garden of Eden, man failed to watch over the woman as she had, what we call today, a casual conversation with the serpent. In the end, Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent and we see God driving them away from the garden. This trend continued in their descendants too. After the worship service recorded in Genesis 4, Cain was displeased by the fact that God accepted the sacrifice of Abel. He didn’t think twice to commit the first murder. And, the conversation that followed is relevant to our topic: “Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Where is your brother Abel?’ ‘I don’t know,’ he replied. ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’” (Genesis 4:9).

Yes, God expected Cain to be his brother’s keeper, and when he failed, we read that Cain went away from the presence of God. “Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden” (Genesis 4:16).

If the parents were driven out from the garden, Cain went away from God’s presence when he failed in his duty to watch over his brother.

Hence, chowkidari or watching over one another is of paramount importance in the scripture. God’s call to Ezekiel was to be a watchman for the people of Israel who were in exile. “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so, hear the word I speak and give them warning from me” (Ezekiel 33:7).
The role of the watchman was to hear the word God spoke and give the people the warning issued. If the watchman erred, God would hold the watchman responsible. This role was of great importance and many people didn’t like hearing these warnings issued. Take a look at our scenario now. How do we miss those watchmen who hear from God and deliver the warning signs? If at all warning signs are issued, people would dislike the preacher and run for what their “itching ears” want to hear.

Look at Habakkuk where he goes to the watchtower to hear the word of God concerning the pressing issues of the land: “I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint” (Habakkuk 2:1).

Prophets of the Old Testament were watchmen to God’s people. They heard from the throne room of God and faithfully delivered to the people. They were not popular among the people as they often faced hardships for being faithful.

Watchmen also had the responsibility to understand and declare the times and seasons the people were living in. “A prophecy against Dumah: Someone calls to me from Seir, “Watchman, what is left of the night? Watchman, what is left of the night?” The watchman replies, “Morning is coming, but also the night. If you would ask, then ask; and come back yet again” (Isaiah 21:11–12).

The church should not be a place where we are disconnected from one another and from the issues pressing the world. God desires that we persevere in His presence and take the role of being a watchman seriously.

In the New Testament we see the leaders in a local church being entrusted with this role of “watching over”. “To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:1–3).

Watching over the flock of God is a very important responsibility in a local church. The eagerness to serve the flock of God and to be examples to them is the job entrusted to pastors or elders.

We are also to watch over one another in the context of encouraging one another to persevere and to do good works to reflect Christ (Hebrews 10:24 CSB).

We are to watch over one another so that together we are built up by the Holy Spirit and thereby bring glory to God. In a world that is predominantly self-centered in outlook, God is looking out for chowkidars to rise up. He longs to reveal His heart and wants us to be His voice in a hurting world. The church should not be a place where we are disconnected from one another and from the issues pressing the world. God desires that we persevere in His presence and take the role of being a watchman seriously.

The Church should be actively involved in going out to the world with its distinct and unique voice of love and the cutting edge of God’s word. This can only happen when we are aware of what is going on around us and seeing the threat or challenges it poses and leading the way in guiding our families and communities towards the light. We can’t afford to be asleep. The mission is big and the challenges are huge.

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