The good news in a bad world

Lunminthang Haokip *

THE LAST COMMAND: "All power is given unto me in heaven and earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all Nations, baptizing them in the name of the father, and of the Son, and of the Holy ghost" (Matthew 28:18, 19).

THE FIRST COMMITMENT: Big turbines generate electrical power in power stations. The main target of a hydro-electricity project is to electrify towns and villages, which have no power supply. The power generated is transmitted as current through cables laid on lamp-posts to give light to dark houses.

Jesus said, "All power is given unto me". Electrical power is just another by-product of matters and elements created by the 'supreme' power that is God. The Son of God is the life-giver Himself. The Spiritual power generated through the crucifixion of Jesus Christ is the Gospel - the Good News of the Lord, which has the current to cut off a man's past, save sinners by lighting up darkened souls and enlivening deadened spirits.

Jesus Commands every believer to be the cables, lamp posts and transformers that transmit the spiritual electricity of the Word of God to hot up man's cardiac filament to make it glow and pass on the spiritual light of conversion. The risen Lord expects every believer to make His last commandment their first commitment. WAY TO SAVE EACH : War is too important a matter to be left to Generals only, Napoleon said.

Evangelism- the preaching of the Gospel to win souls for Christ - needs to be taken up on a war-footing. "Go ye" does not apply to full time labourers in God's Vineyard alone but to every converted person worth his or her testimony. Every human being living on this sin-smeared messy expanse between two poles is on an equal footing when it comes to invitation to salvation and the responsibility to take salvation to others.

There isn't a soul our Creator had denied a spiritual gift due to each that renders one fit to play a role in evangelism. Each professor of the faith is therefore to engage himself in the Christ-commanded service of harvesting souls according to ability and direction.

"Therefore said he unto them, the harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few (Luke 10:2)". TEACH ALL NATIONS: Who are these Nations to be taught ? After the great flood of Noah's time, "God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto the, be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth (Gen 9:1)"

Fallible Humans: Humankind were tested under a new standard of conduct. Having failed to live without laws and the restraint of civil authorities, they were forced to obey the right and reject the wrong. Genesis chapter 9 records successive failures of Noah, Ham, daughters of men and men in general in accomplishing God's purpose.

Instead of systematically scattering themselves abroad in distinctive groups, the wicked generation of the time made a grand game plan to integrate as one people to defy God and sabotage His designs (Gen 11:1-9). God didn't take kindly W that. He put down the rebellion against Him with an iron hand by confusing their languages and drove them out all over.

THE BIRTH OF NATIONALITIES: "Because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of the earth (Gen. 11:9).m This accounts for separation of peoples as nations and the division of the earth as confinents and islands. "And unto Eber were bom two sons: the name of one was Peleg, for in his days was the earth divided (Gen. 10:25)."

To these nationally and notionally fragmented and diversified lost races, God sends us to boldly put across the message of the Cross. For the thousands of years of the Almighty's revelation of divine displeasure over the excessive measures of human transgressions through calamities and diverse adversities, the rebellious mentality of men had not mellowed down. Sin spreads millions of times, faster than righteousness.

The prophetic voices, that informed nations of the ultimate penalty for iniquities down the centuries have failed to bring the massive majority to repentance towards God.

THE SPIRIT MOVES: Among these trans-continental world-breathing brash-breed of sin-hardened creed who brokered tickets of the broadway to spiritual breakdown, God wants us to make a breakthrough. Saved Souls should teach them the "fear of the Lord" by feeding them "to hate evil (Proverb 8:13)".

In every nation where transgressions flourish, the Holy Spirit prepares hardened hearts to absorb messages and meditated-messages to disrobe guilt-clad conscience. Knocking heaven's door in passionate prayer will lead one to the needy soul readied to be on a spiritual roll. Being nation or tribe-specific in evangelism runs the risk of scaling down God's wide mission and stifling and quenching the Holy Spirit.

After heavenly hooking the just God-fearing gentile centurion Cornelius, the Lord-commissioned Peter triumphantly declared, "But in every nation he that feareth him, and worked righteousness, is accepted with Him (A. 10:35)".

EVANGELISM Vs. CLERICALISM: Clericalism hinders modern-day evangelism. Clericalism is increasingly becoming a wedge-driving schism between the clergy and the lay-persons in church organizations. St Paul, in his letter to Timothy, sent the true spirit of evangelism that the latter was to pass on what he learned from Paul to men of potential "And the things that thou hest heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also (2 Timothy 2:2)."

What successors of the Apostle-to-the-gentiles do today is simply a satire on and a reverse of the above verse. Leaders love prominence and feel deeply hurt if they are not consulted in every issue in ecclesiastical affairs.

Some of them are so greedy for power that they do a Parvez Musharaf on their own followers. They bestow all titles of control and authority on themselves through secret lobbying and doctored resolutions. That is clericalism at its worst form - running a one-man show by seeking self-glory and shirking counsel and assistance of co-workers. It's an egoistic leverage fattened by the germs of I-disease.

Some Clerics carried away by this ism of bossism, place themselves high above imaginary "lesser mortals" instead of seeing themselves as feet-washers. "And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant (Matt 20:27,23:1)"

DOSES OF SOLUTION FOR MOSES: Overburdened by the woes that came along with the ordeal of shepherding the numerous children of God, even a leader of Moses' stature, felt victim to clericalism. "And when Moses' father-in-law saw all that he did.... he said, what is this.... why do you sit judging the people without others to help... ? (Exodus 18:14)."

All alone by himself, Moses "sat to judge the people "who" stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening (v. 13)." Jethro saw the occupational hazard that was wearing down the hero of the Red-Sea partition. Some leaders are mislead.s rotating towards dictatorial axis like Pak's former supremo was, if they don't encourage cadre-based team-work. Jesus trained simple fishermen and hard working professionals to be fishers of men.

Success in the ministry of an Evangelist or a Pastor must pave the way for successors to carry on the torch higher. The remedy to the malfunctioning malady was prescribed in Ex. 18:21, "Moreover thou shall provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness: and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens".

QUALIFICATIONS AND QUALITIES: To fit the bill to be in PM's SPG (Special Protection Group), you need to be tall and big-built. To qualify for any job, essential degrees and desirable testimonials are required to be produced. If it's survival of the fittest for a sprint race and sporting, it's survival of the fattest for Jap sumo-wrestling.

When conditions set for competitions that can only fetch rewards and prizes perishable are so tough and onerous, how generous is our God in not laying down strict eligibility criteria to make one competent for crown-gaining evangelism. The greatest preacher, St. Paul was several inches short of five feet. Jonathan Edwards, a key figure in America's great awakening of late 18 century, was a six-footer who had 10 daughters who were equally tall.

The Revivalist called them his "sixty feet of daughters." If height were considered a factor necessary for soul-winning, many five-feet-nothing preachers of this world would have cut a sorry figure. However in delivering the Gospel of the grace of God, possession of highly desirable spiritual degrees made the difference in myriad souls. "The Sacrifice of God are a broken Spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, 0 God thou will not despise" (Psalm 51:17).

LOFTY FAITH: Moreover, attributes like meekness, blamelessness, patience and endurance are assets that yield abundant fruits. Pride and arrogance in God's work look as odd as a fatso with bulging paunches in a fitness contest. Although a midget, St. Paul stood head and shoulders above others in evangelism because he practiced what he preached in II Cor. 3&4, "Giving no offence in anything, that the ministry may be not blamed: But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses."

JESUS - THE ROLE MODEL: The Evangelist is one who delights in gathering sheep and the Pastor, in feeding and caring them. Those exactly were things Christ loved doing and pulled up Peter for neglecting. Jesus visibly was and invisibly is the divine Evangelist and Pastor even today. He announced His priestly credentials in the synagogue, with unchallengeable divine authority: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor...(Luke 4:18)."

In His short-lived ministry on earth, our Lord was most seen mingling freely with the poor, the sick and the suffering. What a far cry from some of our new millennial spiritual leaders who wag their tails around and in honey-sweetened flattering diplomacy, hang loose in the premises of the charmed circle. The Saviour was always on the move with a heart thousands of miles in circumference, a spirit that was indefatigable and a burden laden with love and concern for the have-nots. Nothing thrilled Him more than giving the maximum heavenly truth to reclaim sin-dispelled hell-bound wilderness folks. " Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also; for therefore came & forth( Mark 1:38)".

THE PRiME MOTIVATOR: Any time, He is the prime Motivator for every labourer in God's Kingdom. It's when our focus is shifted elsewhere that man-made maligning rituals like dependence on mortal and fallible men, membership-drives, denominational-divides and doctrinal-prejudices rob believers of the one Lord, one faith, one baptism luxury (Eph. 4:5)" bonhomie they should have shared otherwise.

In seed-sowing and soul -harvesting in weathers fair or foul, we ought to look at the Saviour as the central theme of sermons and the perfect role model. "That we should no longer be children tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine ..(Eph 4:14)".

MISSION POSSIBLE: Millions of disillusioned humans across the globe are wild-goose-chasing illusory means and goals of happiness. They try out everything within their grasp from socialism to materialism, health to wealth, divorce to remarriage to another divorce, voodoo to gurus, vodka to Alaska, tourism to adventurism and from fun-filled gadgets to collecting nuggets.

They get momentary thrills but true consistent happiness still plays an elusive game on them like the mirage does, in the vast expanse of a desert. Accepting Jesus as one's Saviour and Lord will change lives like nothing else possibly can. On the Cross of Calvary, over 2000 years ago, by shedding His own sinless blood, and by dying on the cross and rising up again, Jesus had drawn in blood the blue-print for victory over sin, death and sorrow.

The apparently hope-shattering impossible mission to attain happiness through human efforts was made a mission possible by spiritual conversion. Repentance, confession of sin and cleansing of guilty conscience by setting things right with men and God. These are the indispensable steps of faith one must take to sprinkle one's heart off an evil mindset that causes recurring sadness. The outstretched hands of our nailed-pierced hands on the Cross is the unspoken measure of His Love for humanity and desire to accept as much.

A NEW HEART: When men does his part, God does His own by fulfilling the promises, "A new heart also will I give you, and a new Spirit will I put within you ... will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes .... And ye shall be my people, and I will be your God; then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities .... (Ezekiel 36:26-31).

That's the icing on the cake on the kind of blessed joy promised to a soul that means business with the potency of the Word of God. A new heart pumps human blood and releases the same through our veins for the whole body to gain sane favour in the Lord's will and also refrain from vain thoughts.

REWARD FOR SUFFERING: The purple-clothed rich-food aficionado who selfishly denied Lazarus, the sore-afflicted beggar, a bite at the crumbs, was himself denied a drop of water from the finger-tip of the impoverished beggar when death and judgment reversed their positions. Forbearing suffering was rewarded and superfluous affluence punished.

Not giving the good things we can, in the Creator's view, amounts to serious neglect of human need and a sin of omission that will be linked to issues of heaven and hell in eternity. On the other hand, the Lord takes cognizance of little acts of kindness and small deeds of charity, "And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, In as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me (Matthew 25:40)."

We all have done things to remember which ultimately led to our own hurt. A small step of faith for Jesus never goes waste. It lays the foundation for myriad blessing.

ADVOCATES OF THE GOOD NEWS: Evangelism would have run counter to the spirit of the-ism and altruism had it not preached and practiced practical benevolence. It is in the proper fitness of things that every advocate of the Good News from William Carey to George Muller to Mother Teresa to the Graham Staines to social-action agencies like World Vision, had always been mingling evangel with excellent activities of generosity.

"But who so hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in Him".

* Lunminthang Haokip wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is an IAS (Retd)
This article was webcasted on August 14 2022 .

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