Summary: Sermon on human condition and God’s grace
December 29, 2001
A. Current news about India
1. Ongoing conflict with the neighbouring nation of Pakistan
2. Masked gunmen stormed Indian parliament
B. Religions in India
1. Considered not only as the oldest of all religions but the fountainhead of all
2. Its origin goes back 4,000 years ago
3. Caste system—Religious word is “Varna”
a. Each caste has its own duties and rights
b. Each Varna members have to work in certain occupation which only that Varna members are allowed.
c. Each Varna has certain type of diet.
4. Four Castes
ii. Priests and educated members of the society
b. Kshatria—Rulers and aristocrats of the society
c. Vaisia—Landlords and businessmen
d. Sudra—Members of this class are the peasants and working class of the society who work in non-polluting jobs.
e. Outcasts or Untouchables
i. These untouchables worked in degrading jobs like cleaning, sewage etc.
ii. The untouchables were not allowed to touch people from the four Varnas. They were not allowed to enter houses of the higher Varnas. They were not allowed to enter the temples. They were not allowed to use the same wells used by the Varnas. In public occasions they were compelled to sit at a distance from the four Varnas. In regions where the attitude towards the untouchables were more severe, not only touching them was seen polluting, but also even a contact with their shadow was seen as polluting.
iii. If, because of any reason, there was a contact between an untouchable and a member of the Varnas, the Varna member became defiled and had to immerse or wash himself with water to be purified. In strict societies, especially among the ’Twice Born’ (the three top Varnas) the touched ’Twice Born’ also had to pass through some religious ceremonies to purify himself from the pollution. If the untouchable entered a house and touched things of a Varna member, the Varna members used to wash or clean the places where the untouchable touched and stepped.
iv. In some incidences the untouchables who associated with the Varna members were beaten and even murdered for that reason.
A. Common Reactions to this practice
1. Anonymous author “Form of racism.”
2. A difficult society to live in
3. Thank God that we don’t have this kind of system in the Christian world
B. Reality check
1. We are all untouchables in the sight of God
a. Conceived in sin. Psalm 51:5
b. Iniquity by association. Isaiah 6:5
c. Our sins have separated us from God. Isaiah 59:1-2
2. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
C. Jesus Example
1. He chose the untouchables of the society to be among his disciples. Matthew 9:9
a. Tax collectors
2. He chose to eat/fellowship with them. Matthew 9:10
a. Simon, the Leper. Matthew 26:6
b. Zacchaeus. Luke 19:1-10
3. He healed them unconditionally
a. Man with leprosy. Matthew 8:1-4
b. Woman with an issue of blood for 12 years. Mark 5:25-29
D. God’s precious community. On what basis?
1. Not because of our abilities
2. Not because of our education
3. Not because of our cultural background
4. Not because of our social status in life
5. Not because of our influence
6. Not because of our financial wealth
7. Not because of our physical looks
8. By GRACE alone
1. Defined as “undeserved/unmerited favour.”
2. Dwight Nelson’s definition of grace
a. His neighbour with a dog
b. Dog competition
c. Neighbour’s remark “He does very well when he is alone in his class.”
i. Unmerited favour
ii. Undistracted attention
iii. Without any competition
3. All Winners in God’s sight
a. Special Olympic
i. A few years ago, at the Seattle Special Olympics, nine contestants,all physically or mentally disabled, assembled at the starting line for the 100-yard dash. At the gun, they all started out, not exactly in a dash, but with a relish to run the race to the finish and win. All, that is, except one little boy who stumbled on the asphalt, tumbled over a couple of times, and began to cry.
ii. The other eight heard the boy cry. They slowed down and looked back. Then they all turned around and went back, every one of them.
iii. One girl with Down’s Syndrome bent down and kissed him and said, "This will make it better."
iv. Then all nine linked arms and walked together to the finish line. Everyone in the stadium stood, and the cheering went on for several minutes. People who were there are still telling the story.
v. What matters in this life is more than winning for ourselves. What matters in this life is helping others win, even if it means slowing down and changing our course.