Monday, August 24, 2009

Persecution

I read this in www.time.com, and thought that I should share this with others. Click to read the article.

The Law: Can Atheists Be Parents?

My thoughts:

So often we say that the world persecute us for being Christians, that we cannot really live according to our faith without obstruction... And we are not happy about it. Well, isn't this the same as the non-Christians? They too, are forced to obey our laws and standard at times. These are the people who have not yet belong to our community, yet forced to believe and live as if they are already part of the community. As much as we say that we are being persecuted, perhaps it has always been a two-way persecution; just like we have been persecuted, we too, have been persecuting those who are not part of us. This is the irony of our community whose people are supposedly spreading and living a lifestyle of love.

This perhaps shall remind us always that it doesn't matter if we are persecuted, because we should expect that anyway, so we must not complain. We have no right to complain, because we have been warned, and we have accepted the consequences of our choice in following Jesus. But instead, we have to fight for those people who are persecuted by our own people... Before our God and we are both thoroughly hated by the other people because of our own stupidity, selfishness and irresponsibility.

Let's live for humanity, rather than for religion.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Silence

Silence is a topic that has been discussed before; it is not a foreign subject that we have not heard. We have often been taught to be silent before God, to rest our minds from worries and to allow God come in by quieting ourselves down. However, that seems like silence has become a medium in which God speaks to us through, that God only speaks to us when we are silent.

What if God is silence? In silence, we commune with Him, thus we hear ourselves and we hear Him speak. To be silent we will need discipline, upon entering we will need to listen, and in it there is a communion. Maybe silence is the message, not the messenger.

Silence is fearful because it is like stripping naked. It is awkward to be silent before another person because we are entering a holy ground. So we are good in making pointless chatters and creating noises through TV, radio and mp3, even when we are not really listening to them. The old couple who are holding hands and looking into each others' eyes in silence can do it because there is communion of souls; they have overcome the storms of life together, and there is no need for surface chatters.

It is, however, not only about external noises. When we quiet ourselves, we realize that there are many more noises within ourselves: painful memories, hurtful experiences, broken relationships, etc. We sometimes avoid silence to avoid the past hurt. It takes courage to enter silence to see ourselves for who we are and not who we want to be. Being silent is accepting all of ourselves for the brokenness and the things that we hate in ourselves, while quieting down the fearful rebel who is living within. As we wrestle with all these, peace will grow.

Let us be touched by silence; let us experience God.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Law and Grace

This is a reflection based on a part of the talk/sermon/presentation by Pastor Dave in International English Service today and some Q&A by McManus during my Summer class.

The Old Testament rules no longer apply to us today because Jesus has come down to this world. He came down not to abolish the laws but instead to fulfill them. I was quite confused by what that means until I have done some processing today, with some ColdStone ice cream freezing my brain - figure how my brain actually works when it's frozen.

Truthfully, we would not want to live according to the 10 commandments anyway because if we were to follow a law, we must follow all laws; and Jewish laws are pretty detailed, and there are hundreds of them. No pork, prawns, lobster... I think that is a pretty big loss to our tasting buds. Anyhow, the 10 commandments are not sufficient to live by, so living by the Law is not enough. Those are the basic guidelines to living morally (and ironically, we can't even follow them all obediently). For example, is it acceptable to follow all 10 commandments perfectly and abuse your children? Morally, no; but if you are talking about just following the 10 commandments and you are good to go, yes. I think that is pretty messed up. So 10 commandments are really something that we follow to make us mere humans, but we need more than that.

Jesus came down to fulfill the laws. It's no longer about not committing murder, it has become not hating; it's no longer about committing adultery, it has become not lusting, etc. Instead of the Law, it has become Grace. Grace allows you to do beyond what the Law has required, not doing less than what the Law has stated and be forgiven for our shortcomings. The Law tells you to love your neighbor, Grace allows you to love even your enemies; the Law tells you to tithe 10% of your income, Grace allows you to give even more than that. Thus, Grace is not an excuse for committing sins. At this point, I actually think that Grace sounds much harder than the Law. But nevertheless, act upon Grace, for God has given us His Grace through His Son, Jesus.

P. S. Try ordering Our Strawberry Blonde in ColdStone Creamery, changing the base ice cream to Cotton Candy, or Sweet Cream if the former is too sweet for your taste. Giving such a delicious experience beyond customers' expectation? THAT is Grace. Maybe.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Small Group

We are very stuck to the idea of small groups these days. Somehow, everyone in the church is encouraged to join a small group - or whatever else you call that: care group, cell group, etc. I have two thoughts about being in a small group. These are my very raw thoughts (ie. unrefined, uncensored), so please forgive the extremity and one-sidedness of this entry, if there are any out there that differ in opinion.

1. Not everyone is made for small groups.

Why do I say that? Probably because I, amongst many others, also am not cut for one. Not to say that I don't like the people; I love my small group members. But how many times has the rule of "what's in here stays in here" been broken? Countless times. Not condemning or judging my past or current small groups or anyone at all, but I think it is just human tendency to talk, and I am guilty of it as well. Sometimes people have a slip of a tongue, conscious or not. I don't think they should be blamed, but we must learn to be wise in knowing what should be said and what shouldn't. And that doesn't sound like what you will do within a trustworthy family, at least to me.

Honestly, how comfortable are you in telling things that are intimate to you in front of 10 other people (and to realize that they do talk, and what you want to hold secret with them somehow becomes known to the public)? So maybe we should stop pushing people to share until they become comfortable themselves, if they ever reach that point. Instead, we must encourage them to participate. In here, what I mean by participate is the action, not so much the words.

The next question is how, and what kinds of action? My suggestion: what about hosting a small group at the orphanage? You have your prayer and sharing right before you put what you have learned right on the spot. The problem: we are too lazy to take one step to organize this, we like the stability and consistency of our current small group; it is comfortable because there's no action involved, and our faith is not being used and stretched. We don't have to engage the world with our faith, and that often feels safe.

2. Our small group has become boring.

What do I mean by boring? Let's compare to the risk-taking, danger-inducing small group that Jesus led in the first century. Thirteen people went everywhere together, fasting, eating, celebrating, learning, driving out demons, healing the sick, standing up against the current ruling, etc. Our small group right now is pretty much confined to sitting down in someone's house, praying, discussing, and eating. I wouldn't call our small group "revolutionary" at all. Sometimes, it even feels like a weekly chore.

Jesus' small group went and impacted the world after Jesus left. Don't we want our small group members to be the next Peter, John, etc.? And of course, taking Judas into consideration, you know that if Jesus as a leader could have such a follower, you and I will have multiple encounters with Judases. Nevertheless, their small group went around engaging the people in their world, causing great upheavals in the community for they were doing radical things; our small group, however, often stays within ourselves to feel safe. Don't you want to be a part of a small group that heals the blind man and casts out demons? Our small group must be one that engages the world, and not one that is confined to traditional practices and structures.

Perhaps we need to stop living for ourselves and our church community. Perhaps we need to start living for humanity.