SERMON SHARED BY LUNMINTHANG HAOKIP AT MACEDONIA CHURCH, JANGNGOUPHAI, TAMU DIST, MYANMAR ON 28 JULY, 2019: EXCERPTS.
1. International boundary had been drawn between India and Myanmar. Eimis settle in both sides of the border. Much water has flown down the rivers Menal and Bahlong. Yet certain inborn traits we inherit remain intact and unmoved in our psyche. The advent of Christianity in NE India and NW Burma brought about many external changes in our native brethren but the flesh had not been dealt sufficiently to render it completely “captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor 10:5).”
2. We Eimis know one another by our respective tribe, clan and sub-clan names. Our ancestors handed down this burdensome legacy that sticks like a leech in our notional perception of other brethren. Even when a marriage takes place, every guest is curious to know as to what clan the groom and the bride belong to. This incorrigible bent of mind breeds pride and prejudice over one’s ancestry at the expense of that of others’ and belittles the Biblical truth that we were created by God in His own image (Gen 1:26).
3. 2 Corinthians 5:16 says, “Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet henceforth know we Him no more.” Those who do not accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour know Him as a Jew who performed great miracles or a Guru who was followed by those who believed in Him like devotees do to a mortal saint. Many of His kindred and the rulers of Israel in the Lord’s time failed to look at the Messiah as the only Son of God sent on earth to conquer sin and death. No wonder, He was mercilessly crucified!
4. But, we saved sinners can vouch for the truth that it was the Saviour’s grace that transformed our lives. Men had been clueless as to why they were slaves to sin. To the prophet Jeremiah, the seriousness of sin was revealed, “Although you wash yourself with soda and use an abundance of soap, the stain of your guilt is still before Me (Jeremiah 1:22).” It takes deep repentance, confession and cleansing of one’s conscience to get rid of sin. God sacrificed His only Son to settle the sin problem of men once and for all. After meeting Christ personally and having got his guilt dealt, St Paul could triumphantly declare, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus, the law of the spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. (was Romans 8:1 & 2).”
5. Having been saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8), we no more have the liberty to live our lives as we used to. We were purchased by His blood to do God’s will. We become subject to spiritual rules. Christ is our be-all and end-all. The Bible ought to be our guideline and its teachings our culture. The Spirit activates our own spirit and ring the warning bell when the ‘flesh lusteth against the Spirit (Galatians 5:17).’ We continue to rub shoulders with people of the world under existing systems. But a convert’s actions and reactions are to be guided by and be subjected to the Word of God.
6. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, old things are become new.” Human nature being what it is, this statement of St. Paul is a challenge to follow for every believer. Old traditions linger on. Pre-Christianity practice like inheritance of a son-less man’s property by his brothers or their sons is seriously insisted upon even today. Moses too was baffled by the same issue. He sought God’s counsel (Numbers 27:5). On the issue, the Almighty said to Moses in Numbers 27:8, “If a man dies and leaves no son, turn his inheritance over to his daughters.” We ought to give more weightage to the Word of God than our ancestral tradition.
7. Swearing to prove one’s innocence is another ancient folly we Eimi believers still stumble over, yet, refuse to let go. Thievery is common in every village. At times, there are cases of a mentally derailed person hanging himself or herself in the neighbour’s house. To prove one’s innocence in suspected thievery, we are not convinced unless a person performs a swearing in public by putting his hand on wild plants. Do we think we can contradict the Word of God written in Matthew 5:37, “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ ‘No:’ anything beyond this comes from the evil one?”
8. In instances of accidental death in someone else’s residence, the poor victim’s family is heavily fined with a big pig to ‘cleanse’ the ‘floor’ where bloodshed took place. A pig is not known as a clean animal. It’s mind-boggling as to how it’s butchery was imagined to have been chosen to remove ‘blood-stain.’ Besides, it’s inhuman to levy a fine on a bereaved family. These are controversial practices contrary to the New Testament. John 1:17 firmly states, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth come through Jesus Christ.” And true justice should be mingled with mercy.