February 2013

SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE!

Suresh Manoharan

A divine millionaire became a slumdog in order to make us slumdogs millionaires.

Firstly, for some light-hearted banter! Post presidential elections, even as dark clouds of depression still hang sombrely above the American economy, we do see some 'silver linings' of humour in them. For instance, take this self-deprecatory cartoon humour of a bulging, balding entrepreneur on a golf course. He tells his golfing partner, "I am in a period of depression, because my hair-line is under recession and my waist-line under inflation." Yet another joke doing the rounds about American giant companies pertains to their balance sheets. It is joked that in their balance sheets on the 'left hand side (liabilities), there is nothing right and on the right hand side (assets), there is nothing left' (sic)! Be that as it may, let us wish the very best to President Obama and his dedicated team donning the 'doctors' attire', even as they try their best to revive a 'sick' economy.

The much bandied about phrase in connection with the 'revival' of the 'fallen' American economy is the 'bail-out package'. Wasn't that the 'mantra word' even during the first stint of President Obama? Billions of dollars being pumped-in generously from the government treasury makes up this 'package'. Will it wrench Uncle Sam out of his economic woes? Let us hope for the very best.

Coming to the spiritual realm, in the context of the 'fallen mankind' too, God Almighty came up with His own 'bail-out package', signed, so to speak, with the precious blood of His own Son. Let us consider both the background and the foreground of this divine 'bail-out' package, remembering all the while that a bailout is necessary only when a person is in the dock.

Prosperity
Before spiritual poverty arrived, man created in God's own holy image (Gen.1:27) was anything but a spiritual pauper. He and his better-half (responsible for more than half of his bitterness, later on) were 'richly clothed' in holiness, so much so, with their hearts completely pure like that of little children, they never even felt the need to clothe themselves with anything! Isn't the happy scene of the little children in their pristine innocence running around merrily in our homes, oblivious of their nakedness, even today symbolic of the 'holy days' before the Fall (Gen.3:1-7)?

Poverty
Just as the giant American banks were responsible for their own penury (was it not plain stupidity sometime back to extend home loans left, right and centre without properly checking the credit-worthiness of their clientele?). Man, by his wilful disobedience, was responsible for his own impoverishment (Rom.5:12). Now, deprived of his holy innocence, he languished in the garden covering up his shame with fig-leaves (Gen.3:7) which never were going to be sufficient to cover-up his nudity completely. So much so, God stepped in to cover him adequately (Gen.3:21) with the skin of an innocent animal slain sacrificially for this purpose, a foreshadow of Christ's atoning death on the cross. Even today, the 'good deeds' many perform to cover their sinfulness (can we ever pay God off?) are nothing but 'inadequate fig leaves', which can never be a sufficient substitute for God's way of clothing us with His own righteousness on His own terms. Moving the analogy further, it can be said that when He provides clothes for us, it would be fitting even for a royal wedding, but if we insist on we wearing our own 'threadbare clothes', it would purely be our own fault (Matt.22:1-13)!

Replevy (to recover by restoration)
Among other signs (Gen.22:13;Ex.12:21-23), before the Gospel age, the innocent animal, which was slain to clothe man with its skin, too was a harbinger of the coming Redeemer. God the gracious Creator was never going to let man wallow in his spiritual destitution forever. Central to God's 'bailout package' was the incarceration and death of the Incarnated Lamb, which takes away the sin of the world by dying the atoning and the most condescending death (Jn.1:14, 29; Philp.2:7-11).

Would any president of any nation worth his bailout-package salt give up all his wealth, in order that poor citizens of his country become rich? Yet the Bible says of the Saviour, using the economical parlance, "…our Lord Jesus Christ, though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you by His poverty might become rich" (2 Cor.8:9). In trendy contemporary colloquy, it would translate to "a divine Millionaire became a spiritual slumdog, in order that we spiritual slumdogs become ethereal millionaires."

If even 'good deeds' performed out of the ambit of His grace are as filthy as menstruous cloth in His eyes (Isa.64:6-original Hebrew rendition), then we would get an idea of how dirty sin would seem to Him. Now imagine, when the Saviour stepped into this world, was He not aware of how much and what horrendous type of polluted filth (sins of all ages) He would have to allow to come upon His blemishless, spotless person? Yes, He was fully aware; He was also aware that this (His becoming sin-bearer) would lead to a temporary break (Psa.22:1;Matt.27:46) in His relationship with the Holy Father; yet He came!

Doxology
Even as this sublime truth registers on us, should we not say loudly "Jai ho, to the Lord" (theme song of Slumdog Millionaire)? Jai Ho in Hindi means 'glorious victory to you.' Oh yes, Oscar-winning movie Slumdog Millionaire certainly comes to our mind (boy, just a few years ago it won every Oscar on offer). I cannot but compare and contrast its theme, with what the Bible declares in 2Cor.8:9: "You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that by His poverty He could make you rich (2 Cor. 8:9 NLT).

If the world finds this Danny Boyle's rags to riches hoopla sensational, then logically how much more irresistible should be the historically true, sublime Scriptural story of 'riches to rags' fuelled by the sacrificial passion of the Redeemer to the fallen world?

Stretching the story line further, if the maker of this movie, presumably having a 'soft corner' for Mumbai slum-dwellers, was challenged for a moment to do a kamaal (Indian word for magic) for the likes of Jamal (Jamal is the name of that movie hero) by transferring all the fortune he had amassed courtesy this movie to the needy slum-dwellers of Mumbai, who were central to his creative plot, would he do it? No! But what about the Saviour? Did He not give up His immeasurable riches in order that we exchange our rags (our so called righteousness, our 'good deeds', our blatant sinfulness et al - Isa.64:6) with the same?

Only the most hard-hearted amongst us would not say Jai Ho to the Redeemer, worse, not accept His salvation plan (Heb.2:3). How true is the saying that it is not our fault to be born a sinner (we did not eat the forbidden fruit), but it would be our fault to die as one without accepting in this lifetime God's bailout package prepared, as it were, at an inestimable cost (2Cor.9:15)!

Want to accept God's bailout package? Then say this prayer whole-heartedly, if you have not said the same before: "Father, I am a sinner worthy of an eternal death. I believe You sent your Son Jesus Christ to die an atoning death on my behalf. On the basis of His substitutionary death, please forgive all my sins. I accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour. I say this prayer in my Saviour Jesus' name! Amen!" Believe me, you have won an immeasurable prize, before which even an Oscar would stand dwarfed!

I would like to state that Christianity is not only about taking a person to heaven, it is also about getting heaven into him. Doesn't our Lord prepare us for eternity by giving us a foretaste of heaven on earth itself by letting the Holy Spirit reside within us (Rom.8:23 TLB)? Yes, our ride to eternity is not only a certainty (1Pet.1:4,5;Phlp.1:6) but it is also marked by gaiety, as it were, as there is always overflowing love, joy and peace in our hearts (Gal 5:22,23). In retrospect, it needs to be said we owe all of this (the certainty of we being in heaven and experiencing the infinite joy of heaven within us in earth itself) to God's bailout package put in operation 2000 years ago. Is He not, of all the people in the universe, worthy of a full-throated 'jai ho!' More loudly, please…

Editorial: ARE WE A DEMOCRACY? - KURUVILLA CHANDY

GLORIFYING GOD - P. Samuel Manoharam

ENTITLEMENT, ENTERTAINMENT AND ENJOYMENT - J. N. Manokaran

FAITH, LOVE AND HOPE - Vivek Salins

SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE! - Suresh Manoharan

LEADERSHIP LESSON FROM THE BOOK OF JOSHUA - Vijay Thangiah

ARE WE ON THE SAME BUS? - Jamila Koshy

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