SAIACS Community A Body under the Lordship of Christ!!

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I am still fresh from the Leadership Summit held this weekend, where we had lot of people from the business world. Hence we are going to have a lesson based on company laws this morning.

A few months back, Ian and I discussed the possibility of hiving off the Centre for leadership as an independent company. When we have a company, one of the first things we need to finalise is the name. So we set about naming our company. Due to my limited creativity, I suggested that we keep it simple and just combine our first names for the company name. Of course there was one problem. Ian’s first name had only three letters and he is the principal, so I cannot add more than three letters of my first name to the company name. So I agreed and we came with this name. Mad Ian Consultants…Understandably, Ian was not amused, nor was the Board of directors. So we decided to increase the scope of the name and wanted to add some other significant members of the faculty to the name of the company. The choice fell on Dr Idi and Dr Atola. But the condition of only three letters of the first name remained, because Ian is the principal and we cannot have more prominence for others. So then we came up with this name. Mad Ian Idi Ato Consultants…. When we approached the Board with this name, the Board understandably rejected the whole idea and the company was never born.

Now let us say that if we were able to come up with a better sounding name, and the board agreed to the formation of the company, we would have had to register the company. And when we register the company, we would have had to register it as MIIA Consultants Pvt Ltd, or if it was in the US, we would have registered it as MIIA Consultants LLC. So this morning, I don’t want us to be focused on the first part of the name, but on the three letters that the legal name ends with Ltd. Or LLC.

To study this further, let us go outside SAIACS (I am keen on keeping my job and so do not want to dwell on Ian’s name too much.)

Do you recognize these men?

What do you think is common between Vijay Mallya, Subrato Roy and Ramalinga Raju? They are all discredited business men, who got into the wrong side of the law. But if you really look at what they did and what punishment they got, you might still wonder at the proportionality of the punishment. Mallya is actually still roaming free with all his personal finances intact. Subrato Roy, even though out on parole, is still enjoying all the benefits of his personal finances. Satyam Raju though he is in Jail, still has a lot of wealth to his name and that cannot be taken away. Employees of Kingfisher airlines who do not get their salaries. Or depositors in the Sahara ventures who lost their hard earned money etc cannot get any refunds from the personal wealth of a Mallya or a Subrato Roy. Do you know why is this so? Let us look at their companies. Their company named end with those three letters Ltd. Mallya’s companies are Kingfisher Airlines Ltd, or United Breweries Ltd. Same with Subroto Roy’s companies; Sahara India Life Insurance Company Ltd, Sahara Next Pvt Ltd. Etc etc.

You see those crucial three letters Ltd coming at the end of every name of the organisations. What does that really mean? The Ltd stands for Limited. What does Limited really mean when it comes in the name of an institution? American Companies make it very clear. They use the term LLC. LLC is the US equivalent of Indian Ltd. LLC stands for Limited Liability Company. The variations of that are Limited Liability Partnerships, or Limited Liability corporations. So that is what the LLC or the Ltd stands for. It stands for the limited liability that the owners/ shareholders have in case something goes wrong. The owners of the company have only limited liability to the extent of the nominal value of the shares that they hold in a particular company. Their personal wealth is protected, and cannot be touched just because the company went bankrupt or smaller shareholders lost their life savings due the mismanagement of the owners.

I hope you get the drift of where I am going with this. In the world, Institutions are build based on limited liability. You will see this when you buy an insurance policy or you deposit money in a bank, or you download a software, or you buy a product and look at the warranty or guarantee card. In the world, relationships or institutions are built on the principle of limited liability.

Probably the only worldly institution where limited liability does not work is in the institution of marriage. One exasperated husband was complaining, “I got into the marriage thinking that it is going to be a limited liability partnership. She stole my credit card, and I am now left with no partnership, but a lot of liability.” I am sure some of us can identify with that poor man. But again jokes aside, the fact is that worldly institutions are built on the principle of limited liability.

Now let us come back to SAIACS. Most of you will agree that one of the things that differentiate SAIACS is the community life we have in SAIACS. We are all proud of what we call the SAIACS community isn’t it? Dictionary.com defines community as follows “a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists (usually preceded by the) eg, the business community; the community of scholars.” The key words that caught my attention were sharing common characteristics or interests, and distinct in some respect. This morning let us ask this question, what are the some common characteristics or interests that we share, and what makes us distinct from others outside?

This brings me to the question. Can a Christian community such as SAIACS community work on the basis of Limited liability? Or are we a body of Christ, and thus part of the larger universal church? Consider a body. Can the different parts of the body hold limited liability towards other parts of the body? What happens when the lungs say I will go by the limited liability concept and I will supply only limited amount of oxygen to the brain? What happens when the heart says I will pump only a limited amount of blood to the hands? What will happen if the stomach says I will supply limited nutrition to the legs? You get the picture. A body cannot exist if the members of the body go by the limited liability clause. When you are part of a body, you have to have unlimited accountability to each other. Let us remind ourselves from the bible about what does it mean to be parts of a body 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 (NIV) Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”

Now you are a body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it!! When one part of the body hurts, the other parts cannot ignore the pain. We cannot be members of this community and hold limited liability to each other. Peter asked Jesus how many times should he forgive his brother. Peter thought maybe seven times might be a fair limit. But Jesus said “seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21-22). Was that a limited number? No. Jesus asks us to forgive unlimited number of times. Same is the case with other fruits of the spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23) Unlimited love, Unlimited joy, Unlimited peace, Unlimited forbearance (patience), Unlimited kindness, Unlimited goodness, Unlimited faithfulness, Unlimited gentleness and Unlimited self-control.”

We may be tempted to say it is too much. We might be tempted to ask why should we do this? The answer is since we are called to be a body under the Lordship of Christ. What does that mean? What does being or doing things “… under the Lordship of Christ” mean to us? Does it mean calling “Lord Lord” to Jesus? Does it mean saying “Praise the Lord” every time we see other? Let us look at what Jesus says. Matthew 7:21 (NIV) “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. He asks again Luke 6:46 (NKJV) “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?. After washing his disciple’s feet, he categorically explained John 13:13-15 (NLT) “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.” He could not have been more explicit. Do as I have done to you. As per Jesus “..under the Lordship of Christ” means obedience. “.. under the Lordship of Christ” means doing what He has done. And what He did was not based on the limited liability clause of the world. When He took off His outer garments and washed His disciples feet, He was not going by the limited liability clause. When He said, come to me those who are heavy laden, He was not evoking the limited liability clause. When He said, “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing” He was not practicing the limited liability clause. When He spread out His hands on the cross and gave up His life for us, He was not going by the limited liability clause. He was practicing and demonstrating unlimited liability towards humankind. He was saying, it does not matter what you say about me, it does not matter what you do to me, I love you and that is unconditional, unlimited, no strings attached.

So this morning, what does “….under the Lordship of Christ” mean to us? Can we look at the example that was set by Jesus and relate to our brethren in the congregation in an unlimited liability manner? Do as I have done to you. He said. Can we obey that and truly call ourselves as being “..under the Lordship of Christ”?

What does this mean to us in our day to day dealings with the other members of the fellowship? It simply could mean that I will call someone even if he/she did not call me. It means I will visit another member of the community, even when no one visits me. It means, I will wish someone on their birthday, even if he/she did not wish me for mine. It means I will give to someone in need, even though that person did not give to me when I was in need. It means I will be gentle even when the other person is being rude to me. It means I will pray for someone else in the congregation even when I feel that no one prays for me. I leave it to you to decide what it means to you personally. Let the Holy Spirit lead you as you examine yourselves and think about what it means for you to be part of this community, unlimited community, be part of this body of Christ, in an unlimited manner, without the limited liability clause that the worldly institutions go by.

So this morning I leave you with this question. Do we want to be part of SAIACS Community Ltd, or SAIACS Community Unlimited?

Let us pray!!