Monthly Archives: January 2013
Besides looking for the easiest way, our human minds will also look for the most logical way. We reason with our minds to look for what is the most feasible. Now, we are equipped with various management tools even, to help us with our evaluations so that we can have the most logical and sound judgment. I am not suggesting that we throw away our commonsense or our ability to reflect and evaluate, but we must be careful not to rely too much on human reasoning, not to say all the management tools. They can help us to make a sound judgment but let us not forget we have a supra-logical God. God can work above logic. If we read the Bible, we would be able to find many instances that God worked beyond human logic. Isaiah proclaimed that indeed God’s way is higher than our ways and His thought is higher than our thought. We must always remember to leave room for God’s ‘absurdities’. God does not work within our framework and therefore, does not have the limitations and conditions that we are facing. As such, He can work beyond human reason to establish His will.
If everything is within human reason, it also mean that there is no need for faith. Sometimes we deceived ourselves by saying that we placed our faith in God for our plans where in fact, we have worked out a ‘flawless’ plan with backups. And God has to sink this ‘unsinkable Titanic’ plan just to tell us that we have been relying on our own cleverness rather than Him. We must allow God to work, even if it seems illogical or irrational to us. This is where it requires faith and faith requires us to take risks for God. Don’t wait for our perfect plan. Don’t wait for all the resources to be ready. Rather, allow the Spirit of God to direct us and guide us. Be humble to learn from the Lord and admit that we are never clever enough. Sometimes, even the wisdom of a child can bewilder us. There is nothing boastful about ourselves. Don’t let knowledge become our god.
Our human minds are used to look for the easiest way. We tend to look for ways that would enable us to get the best results using the least efforts in the shortest possible time. The world calls this productivity and efficiency. Subtly, this has become the criteria and trend by which we used to make decisions in life. It has also been used to measure and gauge the success of churches and disciples.
But sad to say that the way of the cross is hardly the easiest way. Christ’s way is the narrow way. It is often a long and tedious path. It is often filled with pain and hardship. If God’s way is the easiest way to achieve results, Jesus would not need to die on the cross. He would have transformed the hearts of the people at the command of His words. Paul would not need to go to Rome to appeal to Caesar. He could choose the city that was the most responsive and stay there and build a mega church. But they all did not choose the easiest way to yield the greatest results. By world’s standard, they were not productive or efficient enough. They could have win more souls if they had known how to strategize. They could have build a greater Christian empire. So why not? We often fall into the productivity and efficiency trap because we think that this is the will of God. But the Bible tells us otherwise. Yes, the will of God wants people to come to the saving grace of Jesus. However, it’s emphasis is not on the results but on obedience. It is a matter of which path God wants us to take rather than which path yields the best results. God can call us to a hard ground and preach to the people there. God can call us to start a ministry that is extremely tough. We all can end up like Jeremiah or Ezekiel. Not everyone is called to a big church. If God has called us to something, stay put and be faithful to it. People may give a lot of comments, but not to worry as long as we know what God has called us to do. Do not fall into the trap of looking for shortcuts. Do not scheme to get people into church. All these do not impressed God even if we have the biggest church.
This applies to discipleship too. Many churches neglect discipleship because of evangelism. Though it may be true that prebelievers are not yet saved compared to those who are already in church, but believers also need to be discipled for them to be strong in the Lord. Many disciples are still weak and unclear about their faith because many simply follow their friends. Believing in Christ is like a fashion to some of them and has to be clarified. Many believers need some time to build their faith and be firm in God. There is no easy path to discipleship. It takes time and effort. It takes love and understanding.
The way of the cross applies to our lives too. There is no shortcuts for building our lives in Christ. Sometimes, God leads us to a longer path. It may be tougher and rougher. It’s alright if that’s what God prepares for us. We will become stronger and better. So let us not just look for the easiest way, but ask God to show us His way and be obedient to follow through even if it is longer and tougher.
The message of God is transferrable. It is meant to be passed on from generations to generations. We are to pass them down to faithful people who would subsequently pass it on to others. This process highlights the importance of impartation. We must bear in mind that we need to communicate the truth in a clear and understandable way without compromising it. We should not teach only the simple things nor try to make things more complicated, instead we should learn to make the profound truth of God simple and easy to grasp. Many of us are fearful of becoming teachers for fear that we are not spiritual enough or that we might teach the wrong things. Yet there are others who are very keen to teach without building their inner lives first. Both are areas that we need to look out for, but whatever it is, the truth is that we learn the most when we are teaching if we adopt the right attitude. If we are humble to learn, we would also be humble to teach. We would do our best to handle the truth of God. In this manner, we would be able to disciple and sharpen one another, thus building the kingdom of God.
God’s truth can be applied. But to apply God’s truth is more than just doing it. It can be first applied to our heart and mind. It has to change our inner being first before it is being translated into action. These actions are also not restricted to an individual. The message of God can impact a community. In the process of implementation, we do not only apply the truth to ourselves but we can also plan how to impact the community with the truth at hand. This involves a vision, a passion and actions to fulfill God’s divine truth.
Closely linked to the concept of inculturalization is the idea of indigenization. Besides making the Truth of God relevant and culturally sensitive, it must be allowed to be expressed with local flavours and characteristics. Christ did not come to overturn every stone, He lived in the culture and worked with the culture. We too, must be careful not to reject everything in our cultures. Of course, there will be certain forms that have to be discarded, especially those with religious connotations. But yet we can think of creative ways of replacing them. Rather than just blindly sticking to our Christian traditions and imposing our ways on others, we need to be magnanimous enough to accept the heritage of others. Bearing all these in mind, we can build an indigenous church without forcefully imposing our own culture on others.
There can be only one Truth, but there are many ways of communicating and presenting it. The process of making it culturally sensitive and relevant is known as inculturalization. This is a process we cannot ignore. Or else our message can become irrelevant and may cause animosity too. There is therefore a need to understand the culture and the thoughts that are deeply entrenched in the human mind. It takes interest in anthropology and then make critical contextualization to our message at hand. By saying this, we must understand that we are not reducing the message, but rather making it more understandable and less misunderstood in that particular culture.
Change can be superficial. In order to save time, we can act upon something without being changed internally. This kind of change is temporal. It focuses more on our behaviour. We can impose ourselves to do some things and suppress ourselves not to do some things. We tend to emphasize more on the symptoms rather than the roots. Some of us may end up finding ourselves in this category after being a believer for some time. This may be because we have not internalized the Word of God in our lives. In order to internalize the Word of God, we need to spend time in meditation and reflection on the Word of God. When the Word of God resonates in our hearts, we would then develop a deep conviction. This conviction brings about transformation in our mind to reshape our values and principles and finally, result in a change in action. Internalization is a very important process that we must never forsake. Through it, we would become more and more Christ-like.
In our busyness and urgency to reach out for Christ, let us not forget to internalized the Truth of God. Let us take time to build ourselves so that we may not end up beating the air aimlessly.