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Redemption and The Work of our Hands (Vol 18) - Cultural Transformation #2

Sunday English Service - 11 MAR 18


Let's turn to Jeremiah chapter 29 to the same passage that we went to last week, and continue there. Jeremiah 29, I'm going to read to you from verse 4 to 7. Let me remind you we have been talking about work for some time. First we talked about why we must work, secondly we talked about how work became a toil because of sin and the fall. How it affected work and ruined work in such a way that it became a toil, which it was never meant to be that way. But then Jesus came 2,000 years ago, provided redemption, deliverance from all of this. And today we are a redeemed people, so we're talking about how redemption affects our work, how we as redeemed people ought to work.

So in this connection we've been talking about the call of God and how to know your calling and all of that. And last week I began to talk about how, no matter what work we do, our basic purpose of our work is so that we may bring about a transformation in culture, cultural transformation is what we're talking about. I'm going to talk about it today, continue to talk about it today, very important, a cultural transformation. And the example of how it happens, how redeemed people ought to work comes from the Old Testament strangely, because in the Old Testament we have the people of Israel, they're also a redeemed people. God bought them with His blood, with the Passover lamb's blood. They are type of the church today, the redeemed people, a covenant people even though they're under the old covenant, they're a covenant people just like us. They were placed in Babylon, a difficult place, they had to go there as literally captives, taken there because of their rebellion against God. And there they had to live for some years, and God is telling them in these verses, how they ought to live there. And how they ought to live productively there and fruitfully there, even in that situation. I think it has great lessons for us, that's why this passage is a very important passage and we need to look at it one more time.

So Jeremiah 29 verse 4 onwards, Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all who were carried away captive, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit. Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters-that you may be increased there, and not diminished. Seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace. I gave you the background of the story, this background for this verse. I told you how the people of Israel were taken captive from Jerusalem, their city was literally demolished, temple has been desecrated and all of its things were taken away by the Babylonians. Many were killed, many talented, gifted people were taken as captives to Babylon. I can imagine them being camped outside Babylon in tents like refugees. And their heart is lamenting this situation, they want to go back. They've suffered great loss, they've lost much of property, members of families are lost, dead, killed. And their honor is lost, they've become captives of an enemy army. Babylonians are known for their atrocities, for their cruel way of living, and domination, now they've taken them as captives. Sitting there lamenting outside of Babylon as refugees literally, captives.

And a man named Jeremiah, a prophet of God left behind in Jerusalem, hears the word of God to be told to the people of Israel that are captives. And writes a letter to them and sends it through somebody. The letter comes to them, to Babylon, and the words that I just read to you are words from that letter. Now these people want to go back, be delivered somehow, they're lamenting their situation, they're expecting some good news that deliverance is coming or something like that. But the news that came from God through the prophet is this, that they must build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat the fruit, they must give their sons and daughters in marriage and let them have children. Increase and not diminish in number, and then they must pray for the peace of the city to which they've been taken as captives. Why? Because when that city is at peace, they will have peace.

Now this is bad news for them, if God had told them pray for the destruction of Babylon, they would have been glad. They would immediately organizeda prayer meeting, even fasting meeting, and prayed for the Babylonians to be burnt by God's fire. But that was not the case, God was telling them build houses, live in them, plant gardens and eat the fruit of it, give your sons and daughters in marriage, increase in number, let them have children. And pray for the city in which you've been taken as captive, because the peace of the city is important because then you will have peace. Now I talked about peace last week, and explained what peace is. Peace is universal flourishing, that means everyone and everything must be alright, nothing missing and nothing broken. A state where nothing is missing and nothing is broken, a state of delight, a state of wholeness. It is a rich state of affairs in which all natural needs of people are met, in which all natural gifts given by God to people are fruitfully employed. That means people find expression for their gifts by way of jobs and employment. That people are able to express themselves, and be satisfied with the work, the fruit of their labor. They must have everything, to eat and drink and to live and so on. All the needs must be met, but they must be fruitfully employed so that their gifts and abilities can be used. That is a state of peace.

When it's talking about the peace of Babylon, pray for the peace of Babylon, it's not just a cessation from war. It is not that there's no fighting anymore, it's not that there's no more confusion, no, it's much more than that. It is everybody having everything, nothing is missing, nothing is lacking. And everybody's fruitfully employed where they're satisfied by the way they work, and find expression for the talents and gifts that God has given to them. Even today, a peace of the land must be defined in that way. If India is supposed to have peace and we need to pray for the peace of our land India, then you need to pray that every need of every person will be met. That there will be no lack, no want of any good thing. That people will have everything that they need. But that's not enough, the people will find fruitful employment, expression for their talents and gifts and abilities, so that they'll be satisfied by the work of their hands. This is the peace of the land, and we are told to pray. This has great lesson for us, the lesson is taught from the Old Testament, how redeemed people must live in an alien society that does not agree with our philosophy, with our beliefs, and our values. They're so totally different, yet we live among them. There are so many things with the societies in this world, no matter where we go, whichever country you live in, you can find a hundred different things wrong. You can say, this is against God, against our belief, against the Bible, and against our values, but God has placed us there. You and I are born in this country, we are living in this country. By God's divine will and ordination we find ourselves here, have you ever thought of that? We are located here for a purpose, and God says build houses, plant gardens, give your sons and daughters in marriage, let them have children, increase don't diminish. And pray for the peace of the city in which you find yourself in, because when the city is at peace you will have peace. When everything is well here, you will have everything well with you. So it has great application for us.

Now I told you that when this letter was read among the captives brought from Jerusalem and read, there was a young man named Daniel, we came up to that point. And Daniel when he heard the letter being read about building houses, planting gardens and eating and living there and so on, and marrying and having children and increasing and so on. And praying for the city, and seeking the peace of the city. When he heard that, how did he understand that? And how did he approach that? That is what I want to talk about today. How did he understand that? He understand it to mean that God has given him some gifts and talents and abilities. And now God is telling him, don't run from your situation, don't try to flee, don't try to sit here and cry over what has happened to you. But be fruitfully employed, find expression for your talents and abilities and gifts, go to work. Find a place where you'll be useful, where your talents will be used, where your gifts will be of value and use. And work toward the common good of the people of Babylon, because when everybody benefits you also benefit. That's how he understood it, so he went to work. He goes and joins government service.

Now the problem is when we try to apply it to ourselves, Christians have a problem because Christians have been taught that we need to separate ourselves from the world. Now this teaching on separation from the world sometimes has not been very clear. And because of that we think that we cannot have anything to do in this world, and have anything to do with this world, whatever it is. That we should not be in any way involved with the affairs of this world. That we cannot get involved with this world. Now there is a man named Richard Niebuhr, I don't know if you've heard of him. He wrote a very famous book in 1951 I think, about more than 60 years ago, called Christ and Culture, it became very popular. In that he talks about historically how Christians approached this matter of how we relate to culture. Should we even try to influence culture? What is our approach towards culture? We find ourselves in various cultures, various nations and communities and civilizations, should we even bother to influence our societies for God? And he traces historically how people have thought about it, and he says one of the ideas that people had is the idea that's called 'Christ against culture' which is a popular idea even today. Christ against culture, that Christ does not want you to have anything to do with culture, today's culture because His culture is totally different from the culture of the world. So you must be separate from this culture, have nothing to do with this culture. What is wrong with this culture?

The culture has many things wrong, in many societies. For example in Babylon, they believed in worship of idols, which Israeli people didn't believe. They believed in many Gods, which Israeli people did not believe. They believed in all kinds of rituals which Israeli people did not have faith in. There are many practices that are pagan practices, that Israelis found very much to their dislike, they did not like it. They disagreed with most of the things that they found the Babylonians doing. And today it's not much different, you and I find ourselves in a similar situation. Even whether you live in any country, you will find disagreements, you will find disagreement in basic philosophy, basic beliefs, religious beliefs. Your faith, everything will be different, your values will be different, you'll say, "How can I live in this society? How can I get along? How can I work here? How can I do business here? I don't agree with their way of doing things. I don't agree with the way things are here. This is a wrong kind of society, I don't want to have anything to do with that." That kind of attitude is very easy to adapt in this world no matter where you live. Some countries may be a little easier than others but still wherever you live you can find fault, you'll find fault, there'll be plenty of things. You know you can't look at any place and say, this is perfectly, biblical place to live you know. So you can disagree as believers with so many things. And that is why this is so important, this passage is very important because it deals with the very important question, how do you relate to culture? Do you even try to influence culture? Do you even participate in any way in this culture? Work in this culture? Is it right for you to approach it like that? So some people decided that we must be against culture we must be apart from culture.

So because they worship idols, because they worship many Gods, because they have wrong kind of rituals that these people don't agree with... now it's very easy to say I don't want to be involved in anything, because when these things are wrong it comes into everything. So because the culture is like that I don't want to participate in their business, because there idol worship comes, there all these other things comes in. You can say well because they believed in multiplicity of Gods, that comes into everything you know. So I don't want to go into government service, I don't want to go into any kind of business here because this is the basic culture here. So you can go on giving excuses like that. And separate yourself in that sense, so that you become literally useless in this world. You separate yourself so much that you have nothing to do with this world. Some people understand this whole teaching on separation from the world in that way. And I believe that this passage, and another passage that I'm going to just read to you, a long passage, is going to explain to you how to live in this world and effectively go about doing work in such a way that we influence people and the whole society for God effectively, even without compromising our values. It is difficult to be completely uninvolved, you have to after all live, you have to do something. So to say that we cannot be involved in anything is very difficult, you know. Even people that taught it you know, there was a man named Tertullian, one of the early Church fathers, he taught that. Have nothing to do with this thing you know, Christ against culture was his kind of teaching. But yet he identifies himself as a Roman by culture and his language is very culturally oriented that way. His practices, his philosophy, the way he taught, for everything depends on that culture, it comes from that culture in which he grew up. This has been cultivated in him, we're all creatures of culture, you know we all grew up in a culture, culture is part of us. Our language is from a culture, our practices, our thinking is influenced by culture. You know it's very hard to separate ourselves from culture. So we need to think about it in a very effective way.

So how to work in a particular culture in which you find many things that are not in agreement with the Bible and your philosophy and your values. How to work effectively? How to influence that culture so that you can influence them and turn them towards the values and beliefs that belong to the scriptures and that are godly you know. How do you that? How do you influence such a culture? The way to do it is to work in such a way that you do not compromise, but still be involved very effectively in that culture. So as the letter was read among the captives of Babylon, Daniel was there, Daniel listened to it and he decided to participate. He decided to get into it because God is saying do it, work for the development of the city, do something, be a participant, come on be effective. So Daniel gets into it, so let me ask you to turn to the book of Daniel, and let me read to you a passage, very interesting passage, that tells you how you can be in a culture in which you don't agree with most of the things. But still be very effectively influencing them for God.

Now once again last week I told you Daniel is understood by most people only on Sunday school level, right. Lion's den story, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego thrown in fire, but fire did not consume them. Those are the only two incidents people remember from Daniel, but Daniel is a very mature book. A mature book in the sense it talks about how to live in a culture and society with which we don't agree at all, whose values do not agree with our scriptures and so on. And yet live effectively there and influence that society. That's why Daniel is a very important book, and you must read it in that light. How to live in a society such as ours? How to live like the Israelites lived in Babylon? How to be effective? How to be successful for God? How to glorify God in that situation? How to work and rise to power? How to be effective in your witness for the Lord in that society? It's a very interesting thing in that way, if you read it in that light, it will be very interesting.

So let me ask you to turn to Daniel and chapter 1, I'm going to read a long passage it's necessary to read it in order to look at what we want to look at. Verse 3 onwards, Then the king instructed Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, to bring some of the children of Israel and some of the king's descendants and some of the nobles,young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans. See when they took people captive from Jerusalem, they took some of the choicest ones. Babylonians, even when they captured captives, they were very choosy. They didn't want to take useless ones and feed them there, in their country and keep them. They want to take good ones, gifted ones, so that they can use them for the development of their country. So they had taken some people from the royal families, very educated young people, very talented and gifted young people. Now the king is saying, "Find young people in whom there is no blemish." In other words get police clearance you know, nothing wrong with these guys. These guys have no blame on them, nothing wrong with them, good guys, get such people.

Good-looking people, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge that means very well educated. Quick to understand, very sharp, intelligent. Having the ability to serve in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans. Choose people like that, he says. And the king appointed for them a daily provision of the king's delicacies and of the wine which he drank, and three years of training for them, so that at the end of that time they might serve before the king. This is more like IAS/IPS selection, three year training, officers training, some of the bright ones given some kind of entrance test I think, chosen for training. And they are given king's food, they're given very special food during the training season, so that they can develop well, they can look good and treated well. So that they can be placed in very important positions, they need some very talented people, so they're getting them trained and prepared for that. And they're told to give the king's food for them. Now from among those of the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. To them the chief of the eunuchs gave names: he gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego. So they were given local names.

But Daniel purposed in his heart, now listen to this, Daniel purposed in his heart, that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. Now listen to this, Daniel decided to live a certain way, even though he decided when he heard the reading of the letter from Jeremiah, a call of God very clearly. That he must go and participate in the administration, he must go do something to serve that country. And work for the peace of the land, and pray for this land. He must play a part in other words, an effective part in the development of that country. He heard it, he heard God's call through it when they read the letter. But as he participated, he's also very careful because he comes from a Jewish family, he's a child of Abraham, he's a covenant man. And his covenant people had so many things that they had to follow, even in terms of what they ate. God had made so many... even food laws, that they should not eat a certain kind of food. Even today, you can tell a Jew just like that, because when they go to a place to eat, they will not eat everything that we eat. They have to have a particular kind of food you know, because certain foods are restricted to them.

So Daniel says, see no matter what I'm ready to work for this country, I'm ready to work for the development, for the common good, I'm ready to participate in that way, do good work for the common good. I don't, you know I'm not saying I won't participate because they are Babylonians and I'm Jewish, no, I'm ready to work for the good of this country. But I will not practice what they practice. I will not participate in their rituals, I will not participate in their way of life, I will not participate in their whatever religious beliefs and so on. I will be myself, I will follow my God, I will live by my values and do only things that are right in God's sight. So he determines to live in that way. He determines what his values are, he determines what is right in God's sight. He said, I'll not compromise, I'll only be like this. So he decides that he will not defile himself with the portion of the king's delicacies. The Babylonian kings served food that is not agreeable to him, a Jew cannot sit down and eat that with good conscience, because God forbids them in participating with such kind of food. So he requested the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. He makes a request saying no, I want to eat this, I don't want to eat this food, he says.

Now God had brought Daniel into the favor and goodwill of the chief of the eunuchs. That's amazing, that's why I believe when you find yourself at odds many times with this world, as you work in this world, then you need to go to God in prayer. And you need to make a determination to live for God, and when you make a determination to live for God, even in that difficult situation, God will work in the hearts of people that are over you. And give you favour in their eyes, many times you know. Things will open up for you in a very special way. And the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, "I fear my lord the king, who has appointed your food and drink. For why should he see your faces looking worse than the young men who are your age? Then you would endanger my head before the king." You know, see this guy's in charge of feeding them, and he says look, if you don't eat the food the king gives, and one day when king checks and he finds your face you know, you're looking weak, and you're looking emaciated, then my head will roll. I mean literally it will roll, it's not like in our country, no suspension and then you go into court and be getting reinstalled and all that. Straight away suspension of the head from the body, you know. You didn't do your job so we'll take your head off, that's the kind of treatment they were given. So the guy says, my head will roll, literally, so you better eat the king's food because if king finds you weak, weaker than others, then I'll be at fault, my life will be given.

So Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, "Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance be examined before you, and the appearance of the young men who eat the portion of the king's delicacies; and as you see fit, so deal with your servants." He says test us for ten days, give us the food that we are ready to eat, we'll just eat that, forget about the king's food. For ten days you test us, and then you know, then you decide what to do with us. Then verse 13 he says, Then let our appearance be examined before you, and the appearance of the young men who eat the portion of the king's delicacies; and as you see fit, so deal with your servants. And so he consented with them in this matter, and tested them ten days. The fellow agreed and he tested them for ten days. And at the end of ten days their features appeared better and fatter in flesh than all the young men who ate the portion of the king's delicacies.

You know God can even make you look better. I was preaching in one place he said, "If you preach the gospel like that, everybody will come." Everybody wants to look better, is there anybody that doesn't want to look better? God will take you and write success on your face. He will give you such a face, such a look, that success is written on your face. He will give you a countenance that is very pleasing, that is good, and health and strength in your body also to serve Him. If you decide to live for Him, you can count on God for even physical appearance, it says. They were better and fatter than all the young men who ate the portion of the king's delicacies. Then the steward took away their portion of delicacies and the wine that they were to drink, and gave them vegetables. As for these four young men, God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. The four young men were given knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom, it says. That means they were the best students there, God was helping them in their studies. They were able to understand that new language, you know in the end we read that when king began to examine them, these fellows were better than the locals. They learnt the language better in writing, in speaking, they were far better than the others, because God gave them the knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom in a foreign place. God is able to help us in all kinds of ways, it's unbelievable you know. Whatever is needed to make you a success in the place where you are.

I once met a guy who was really struggling in another country, in an English speaking country. He had not studied in an English medium school, so when he went to work there, he just could not get along, he found English very difficult. He said, "No, I can't manage with English, you know I just can't do it. I learned A, B, C, D only when I was in 8th grade," he says. "Until then I did not know any English, I can't make it here", he said. I said, "First stop talking saying that you can't make it. First believe that you can make it, at least you learned A, B, C, D in 8th grade, there are people that never learned A, B, C, D. I found them speaking good English." I know a guy who picked a New Testament from a garbage can, and started reading it and became very good in English you know. God can give you wisdom, God can give you the ability, the skills that you need. God can help you in unbelievable ways, you know people don't think that they canpray and ask God for these abilities. To make you a success in whatever you doing, whatever skills you need to be successful in what you're doing, you can go to God and you ask God, God will give you the wisdom, the skills that you need, even language skills can be given by God. Stop saying, "I can't," start saying, "I can," start saying, "I can do it by the grace of God." Start saying, "I have been called here, I've been placed here. God is going to help me, I'm going to come out shining, I'm going to do well. It's possible for me by God's grace." And these fellows were given gifts by God, abilities by God, to learn literature and wisdom and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.

Now listen to this, Now at the end of the days, verse 18, when the king had said that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. Then the king interviewed them, and among them all none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore they served before the king. Among them all none was found like these four guys. Out of the whole group, these four guys were outstanding people. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm. Ten times better, how many of you believe that God can do it? God takes them to a foreign land, to a foreign culture, they're in big trouble, they're there as captives and God is helping them to overcome all obstacles to win in life. Why? Because God sees it differently, see even though they are there because of their rebellion, their backsliding and their problem, it was their problem that took them there. They didn't listen to God, God warned them many times and then they ended up as captives. This was more like a punishment for them, and they are there. But God is looking at it differently, God takes this as an opportunity to make those Babylonians see His glory. Make those Babylonians realize that there is a God who's a living God, there is a true God, because they're worshipping so many Gods. And here is an opportunity, he has put his people among them. And now it's a wonderful opportunity that God can use some of them to show forth His glory there, so that that nation which thought they'd captured these people and ruled over these people, will through these people begin to understand that there is a living God. And see for the first time in their life that there is a God, the God of Israel, the God of Abraham, and Isaac and Jacob who's a true and living God. So God is working on that program.

So the success of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is more important to God than it is for those four people. They probably never realized that God wants them to succeed so badly. God wants them to succeed much more than they want to succeed, because when they succeed, it is for His glory, the glory will belong to God, all the benefits will belong to them. It's always like that, I think that's a very good deal. The increase in salary comes to us, God says okay you take it. But glory, you give to me. God says you take the gratuity, you take the pension, you take all the benefits, everything you take, glory belongs to me. You take all the things that go with it, the perks that go with it, you take the house, you take the car, you take all those things that come with it, give me the glory. How many of you think it's a good deal? I think it's a good deal. God says you have all the benefits, I'll take all the glory. God is interested in our success because when we succeed, we will point to God as the source of our success.

So God is blessing them immensely, here they are in a strange society which they dislike from their hearts. They do not agree with any of their philosophy, they don't agree with any of their Gods, their religious beliefs, their ways, their rituals, they don't agree with anything. But they find themselves right in the middle of them. They're working for that government, they're participating in the administration, in important positions. In fact Daniel rose to such a high position next only to the king. Given responsibilities so great and grand yet lived never compromising the truth, never compromising their faith in God. Even if it meant going and staying in the lion's den one night, they said fine, I will not compromise. The end result of the story is that that king says your God is the true God, your God is the real God. Same thing with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, even if you throw us in the fire, our God will save us, we will not worship your statue, our God will save us. The end result of that story is your God is the true and living God. See that is the way that we're asked to live in this world.

For those of us who are thinking whether I should get into this world, do business in this world, participate in various fields, be active in various ways in this world. I'm telling you there should be no hesitation, you must be very clear in our mind, we must be very clear as we live in any society, any country, any nation, in any situation. Some places may be more difficult than other places, but wherever we live, we must decide to live for God, never compromise our values and our ideals and our beliefs and our faith. Always live for God and lift up the name of Jesus. But use the gifts and abilities and talents that God has given to us, for the benefit of everyone in the place where we live. No matter what religion they belong to, what kind of people they are, whether good or bad it doesn't matter. That is why I talked about common grace, everybody has a right to certain basic goodness from God. God makes His sun to shine upon the good, bad, and even the ugly. God makes the rain to fall on them, not just upon the good ones, but upon everyone. That's what is called common grace.

I find some Christians saying, "They are not worthy of any blessing," well you don't have to decide that. Everybody is worthy of certain basic things, and I tell you we need to work for common good, there is nothing wrong in working for common good. Wherever we are, God wants us to be a blessing to that society. Even if that society does not believe in our God, even if that society rejects our God. Even if that society does not stand for any of the values that we stand for, we need to bless them, we need to be a blessing to them. That needs to be our approach, very clearly from the Bible, I have no doubt about it. We need to be a blessing, I need to be a blessing to this nation, you need to be a blessing to this nation, whichever nation God has placed you in, you and I need to be a blessing to that nation. If we live in that positive way, I'll tell you God can use us mightily for His glory. Just imagine the captives of Israel in Babylon, I am sure that there was a group that was sitting in a corner and crying for many years, for what has happened to them, what they lost, how they have suffered, and how they dislike these ungodly people, this society. And how they hate the way they worship, and how they hate the way they lived and what they believed and so on. They talked always negatively, and complained only about the bad things. You can complain and criticize, but God wants us to participate in the development of the place that we're in, because when the place has peace, then we will have peace.

See, this is the problem with Christians, Christians have followed a policy of non-participation, separation they called it. A doctrine of separation, wrongly understood, misunderstood, gone overboard, separation to the point of being useless. If you're going to be so separate and not wanting to have anything to do with this world, then what are you doing here my friend? You belong to heaven, we need to pack you up and send you to heaven immediately. Why are you here? Why are you in this society? If you find this society to be so useless that you can't do anything, you know then why are you here? I think that I am here because God wants me to influence this society positively. I can do something good in this society, I can be a positive influence in this society. I may not agree with a thousand different things, but I can be positive in my approach to my work and bless them in many ways, and influence them in so many ways so that they will see something about God, this true and living God.

Now the first century experienced tremendous growth, Christianity experienced tremendous growth. As a result of that kind of participation, they say, that Christians were everywhere. Even in the palace of the Roman Emperor there were believers you know. In high places, officials in high places there were believers. Wives of great aristocrats, rich people you know they were believers, believing in Christ. Coming and meeting in churches and worshipping the Lord, you know people in all walks of life influencing that society in that way. People participating in the world and the things that are going on in this world. And providing leadership, and being in key positions because they're eager to do something, they're eager to express their talents and gifts, finding places where they can use their talents and gifts in a useful way. They're glad to use it for their country, they're glad to be of service to the people. That is how they grew so much, they say, in the first century there was tremendous growth because of people being everywhere participating in in every field they were there you know. Even during the Reformation, the same kind of trend was there, that is why the Reformation spread so fast and had such an impact upon society itself. So many countries were impacted by the Reformation, Protestant Reformation.

One big example is the field of education, Germany became the number one country in literacy at that time because Martin Luther promoted this idea that education must be provided freely in an excellent manner to all the citizens of the country. Don't need to stand in line to get admission anywhere, all night, don't have to give any donation for admission. None of this fees and all this business for studying anywhere. If you belong to that country, you lived in that area, you have a right to education. You go to school and the school will provide the best education, that policy is followed now in many countries of the world, you know, many countries of the world. It's amazing how different it is, you know. I went with someone was putting their child in the school one time, you know I said how much fees are you going to pay? They said you know how much? 50 cents for the locker, that's all. I said how about fees, monthly fees? No fees. How about admission, will they give admission? They cannot refuse admission, they have to give admission, even if the child does not know the local language they have to give admission and teach the language to the kid, have a special teacher teach English to the kid, even if he doesn't know one word. They're obligated to admit, no child should stay at home, you have to go to school and study there. No fees, only 50 cents for the locker, so you can put your books there. What about books? Free, four colour books for science, mathematics, everything books this thick, beautiful pages, four colours you know. You take it home, they keep a box full of books, everybody takes one, keeps it for the whole semester until the semester is over. They bring it back when the semester is over and give it to the school. If you destroy the book then you pay for it. You return it so that the next batch uses the same book, free book, don't have to buy a book. How to go to school? A bus is supposed to pick you within 100 yards from your house. The child should not be allowed to walk more than 100 yards from the house. These are things that started with Martin Luther in the Protestant Reformation, that education is a right of everyone. That government must provide it, must provide it free of charge, must make no fuss about it. It's everyone's right, the best education must be given by the government not by the private parties. Best education must be given, that way they impacted the whole society, society became literate, And they were leaders in various fields because education became a reality, they were the great leaders of various fields of endeavors. Amazing how the Protestant society was affected.

One more example is very important to note, take the field of music you know. This is applicable to all kinds of fields, but I'm just mentioning music for example. Some of the greatest music came from the Protestant period, when the Protestant Reformation came, some of the greatest composers were from that period, they were all church musicians. Somebody was telling me the other day, "Cinema music is so great, in church you don't have such a good music but in cinema they have." I said what nonsense is this, where did you learn this? All the cinema music directors all these fellows that composed for the cinema that are well known today, learned from church music how to compose, how to do harmony, how to do orchestration. Everything start from these church musicians who composed after the Reformation. And came up with so much creativity and blessed the whole world at large. Today you go to a music school and learn Western music, you cannot learn it without the help of church hymns and music. The hymns that we sing are so important, music comes from that. How to orchestrate, how to do harmony, the theory of music, everything is learned from these hymns that are written, you cannot learn it without that. They were leaders in that field, they influenced the field of music. You cannot be a musician, and a professional musician at that, without being a church musician. That's how much they influenced society.

Now today if somebody says I want to go into music, everybody discourages, "No, you won't even get bread to eat you know. Why you want to go into music?" Even if that fellow is gifted from God, we'll discourage him because we'll say, "Don't go into music because who's going to feed you, how are you going to earn? What are you going to do?" you know. Nobody has a vision, and Christians think that if you went into music you'll go to nothing, that you'll be a useless person, that music will not do anything for you. This is the way they think you know, and that is why today we don't have people in the forefront doing great things in these fields because we think that certain fields you cannot go into because that will make you a very worldly, that will make you sinful, and that will take you in the wrong way. That is not so my friend, some of the greatest musicians were church musicians, it all started with the church.

Today, the problem with the church is this, they do not want to participate, they do not want to get into this world, they don't want to be the salt of the earth, they don't want to be the light of this world. They don't want to put their hand to the plough, they don't want to get into the world and get to work. They don't want to do business, they'll give all kinds of excuses, they've become too holy, almost too holy to be on earth. This dirt is dirty, earth is a bad place, everything is sinful, and they're waiting for the Rapture, to fly away. And their best love song is "I'll fly away, oh glory I'll fly away" and it doesn't seem to happen. And to you God says through Jeremiah build houses, plant gardens, live in your houses, eat the garden fruits, get your sons and daughters married, settle down, work, go to work, work for the development of the nation, of the country, the city in which you live. Pray for the blessing of the place that you're in, for the peace of that city, because your peace rests on the peace of that place.

I tell you my friend, we need to participate. When you read Jeremiah 29 verse 4 to 7, I hope you hear the call of God just like Daniel heard it. You feel God saying to you, "Hello friend, I've given you gifts and abilities and talents just like I gave Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. I'm calling you now and asking you what are you going to do in this world? Where are you needed in this world? In what way are you needed? What are you going to do with it? How are you going to go into this world? How are you going to use your gifts and talents for God? How are you going to serve? How are you going to work toward the development, so that the whole culture can be impacted by you." See we think that only by evangelism we can reach this world. Now evangelism for example here I can preach, how many of you want to preach? If I say from next Sunday we start over there, and every Sunday one person preaches, all of sudden everybody will disappear, because a lot of you know you can't preach and you don't want to preach, you're not called to preach, right? If you want to do evangelism only I can do it and you can watch it you know. I may do it in TV and I can do it in so many ways, but still the most effective way to do evangelism is not like taking a microphone and preaching it. It is all of you doing it by way of your work, by way of you getting into the world, working, doing business, participating, being dynamic, being leaders in your profession, and being very successful in what you do, and using your gifts and abilities and talents for God, for God's glory. That's the way to be, then why am I preaching? Because this is a training ground, we teach how for you to do it there. So you all come here I'm not trying to evangelise you, you all come here because you're learning here what the Bible says about how you need to live out there in the world. That is why we need preachers. But you need to go out there, and as you do your work, as you do it like Daniel and these other guys, you are the ones that is making the impact there. That people will turn to the living God because of you. They will see God in your work, they will see God in you and through you, and they will feel the impact of God's love and power through you.

Now in the first century, I talked about the first century, I'll just say this and close. In the first century, the reason why the church grew so fast, there was 40% growth every decade they say. Now that's amazing, 40% growth of Christianity for every decade, how? They said that society, the Greco-Roman World as they called it, was such a difficult place to live in. For many people it was hell, there was such a confusion, misery, chaos was around. People were divided along so many lines, by race, by all kinds of divisions. The smaller groups were persecuted and overrun by the bigger groups, and dominated by the bigger groups, and you're taken advantage of on all sides. There's no safety, there is no protection, you're always living in fear and misery and chaos. That's the kind of society it was, it was like living in literal hell, that's the way it was, people couldn't live in peace. And right in the middle of it in the first century there arose a group called Christians, they were different, they were like the jewels in the dark world. Shining, a different kind of people, there was love among them. Jews and Gentiles joining together, people have tried so many ways to put them two together, these two communities together. Jews and Gentiles will never join with one another, never have anything to do, not even have a glass of water with each other. But when the church started, Jews and Gentiles started coming together, they started eating together, drinking together, fellowshipping together, treating one another as brothers and sisters. They became a community, helping one another. They became a very loving, compassionate, beautiful community that joined together and worshipped and lived in such harmony and peace.

The world was attracted to this community, they found that here is a place where you can find peace, here is a place where you can find joy and happiness. Here is a place where you can be treated well, and people turned to it. Now, our world is no better, it's the same. Many years ago Billy Graham, Billy Graham passed away last week, right? I hope you all know that. Lived 99 years, almost 100 years old, passed away. A man who preached to more people in the history than any other preachers, a great man. When he started preaching back in the 50s when he started having big meetings in tents and then later on in stadiums. When he went to the south of the United States, there was a lot of problem in the south racially. And there was a big racial division, the Afro-Americans versus the White Americans. Civil rights came about only in the 60s, so until then even there was no integration even in schools, you know. In any place it's all separated, if you go into a restaurant you sit separately in your area, if you're not a white person. If you use the bathroom, you have to use coloured only bathroom. The residential areas were segregated, no integration you know. Schools were segregated, all the coloured kids went to one school and whites went to another school, this kind of situation existed.

So when he went and had meetings in these big places, they segregated them in the south. He found himself having a big meeting one place and there was a barricade, and all the blacks were made to sit over the back and the whites were seated in the center in the most important place. Andthe others were relegated to the rear of the auditorium. And he asked them, what's happening here? And he's a man born in the south you know in North Carolina, in the south, he's a southern guy. But he's been changed, Jesus has come into his life, he's thinking differently, he cannot stand this segregation you know. He looked at it and said what's happening here? They said no, this is the way we do things here, we can't have them sit equally with others, with the whites. He said, no, no, no in my meetings this is not allowed, take it out. And they said no, no, we can't take it out. And he got down literally and removed the barricade it seems, and told the people you can sit anywhere you want. He went to South Africa, they told him in our country the laws are such you cannot integrate, you just have to segregate. This is the way we do it and we want you to come and preach. He said no, I don't need to come and preach in your country. If you're going to follow that policy I will not come, I will come and preach only if you make them sit together. Why? Because he says how can I stand there and preach saying Jesus loves you and Jesus will save you, when you have blacks sitting on one side and whites sitting on the other side. You can't even sit together, what kind of salvation is this? What kind of savior is this? What kind of gospel message is this? Put them together, he said, that is why his message went over big because when people were put together, integrated, racial divisions are put away and people sit together. And he preaches Christ as the savior and Lord, then there is an appeal. People can see that there is a difference, this is church, this is a place where God comes and meets with people. So there cannot be any segregation there, and people were ready to receive the message and turned to Christ in large numbers through his meetings.

Now today's society is no difference, even in India where caste is such a big problem you know. People are divided by caste, there's fights going on because of caste you know. We make such a big deal about caste. And one of the reasons that the gospel is not received in India very well is because you ask the people they'll say, "Well you also have caste, what is the benefit in joining you?" See caste divisions make their life very difficult, it makes it very oppressive, people find it a hell to live in such a place where you're treated as inferior because you're a certain caste you know. And people are looking to get delivered from it, they want to go join some place where there is no caste, they will not be divided and treated as inferiors because of caste. People want to find a place like that, they're looking. And they're looking at the church, it's also a caste place. You take that out, you take that out, the church will become like a shining light in a dark world. People living in darkness have seen a great light, that's what salvation is all about. That's the message of Christ, that's what Jesus is all about, He came like light in the midst of darkness. People are experiencing darkness already in the world, they're looking for light, hope. And when they look, when they see a church that has gotten rid of all these things, a people of God that don't look at one another based on the caste and all these things, then people will be attracted from everywhere to come, because they can finally find a place where they will accept them as human beings and honor them as human beings, not because they're a particular caste. Hello, are you there or have you gone home? God wants us to make such an impact, I'm talking about cultural transformation. Why did God put us in a place like this? In a country like this? Why in a place where so much confusion is there? Where so much chaos is there? Where so many people are looking for deliverance and a place where they can belong to and they can be delivered and set free from all these evils. Why God has put us here? Because he wants us to be the light of this world, in the dark world, it's our job to be the light and the salt of this earth. To draw people to the tastefulness of the Christian faith, to the message of Jesus Christ. Amen.

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