Summary: Your faith, what you have been taught, what you believe about God & His will for your life, makes all the difference in the way you act, in the values you hold dear, & in the standards that guide your life. (Powerpoints available - #116)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(Powerpoints used with this sermon are available for free. Just email me at email@example.com and request #116.)
A. Fifty-two years ago Ethel & I became acquainted with Dr. Vijai & Pushpa Lall of India. The story of their family’s introduction to Christianity & their subsequent efforts to serve Christ in a very hostile environment is an amazing & thrilling one.
Dr. Lall died 20 years ago, but the Mid-India Christian Mission which he & Pushpa established continues on as an ever-expanding witness in India & beyond.
The Mission now includes several hundred churches, a Bible College, two hospitals, numerous village clinics, two Christian schools with nearly 3,000 students, & a Media Centre which produces professional quality radio & television programs which are being used all over India and Southeast Asia.
Over the years, Vijai & Pushpa were guests in our home a number of times, & we had the opportunity to hear them speak again & again.
And the more we heard, the more we came to understand what it is like to be part of a very small Christian minority in a pagan land. Their spirit, their faith, their dedication & love for God & his people shone through every time they spoke.
But I was dismayed when he told how Christians were almost universally depicted as immoral people in Indian television & movies. In them, prostitutes, murderers, the dregs of society, are given Christian names, leaving the people with the impression that is what Christians are like. Is it any wonder that the average Hindu shuns contact with Christians?
But wait a minute. How do most of our own movies & TV programs portray Christians? Christians are often pictured as simple minded, gullible fools, manipulated by hypocritical leaders.
Anyone "religious" is almost always pictured as a fanatic, eccentric, a pain to be around, & the laughing stock of the community.
B. Dr. Lall also talked about the Hindu belief in reincarnation, the belief that when people die they are reborn again into another life. And that the cycle goes on & on through countless rebirths or reincarnations.
Their Hindu faith teaches that whatever blessings or sufferings they experience in life is a direct result of their previous incarnation. If they are suffering today, it is because they're being punished by the gods for something that happened in their previous life.
So, a devout Hindu can walk right by terrible suffering & not even consider helping, because to do so would be to thwart the punishment being meted out by the gods. The gods might turn against you, if you dared to interfere.
Are Hindus so heartless that they don't even care when people suffer? No, it is not that at all. The way they react is a result of what they have been taught & what they believe.
C. Now let's leave India, & go to the Mid-East where terrorism is so prevalent.
How can terrorists deliberately set off bombs on crowded streets? How can they place a bomb in an airplane to take the lives of several hundred innocent men, women, & children? How can they slaughter patients lying in hospital beds, & take as hostages doctors & nurses whose only crime was that they were there to minister to the suffering?
Once again, in the Mid-East conflicts, we can find the answer in their faith, what they have been taught & what they believe.
1. First of all, they consider all the rest of the world to be infidels. We are unclean. We're worst than nothing. Whether we live or die is of no consequence. And if anything can be gained by our destruction, so be it!
2. Secondly, their own life is of no real consequence, either. In fact, they're taught that if they die killing infidels, that they will immediately be transported to a Paradise where they'll enjoy every sensual pleasure. So they're willing to kill & be killed. After all, "It is the Will of Allah."
SUM. Now I have taken a bit of time to make the point that your faith, what you have been taught, what you believe about God & His will for your life, makes all the difference in the way you act, in the values you hold dear, & in the standards that guide your life.
PROP. So let me ask you. What does it mean to be a Christian? What kind of people are we supposed to be? Well, maybe one way to answer that is by listening to what Jesus had to say in Matthew 5:38-41. He said,
"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.