May 20, 2012

Trials’ Lessons: Right Priorities

…Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” – Genesis 22:12b
A big part of the reason for the Lord’s testing Abraham at Moriah was to show him what he valued most in life. The question God wanted Abraham to answer was, “Do you love Isaac more than Me, or do you love Me more than Isaac?” And the Lord was prepared for the drastic test of taking Abraham’s son’s life if that’s what was necessary for Abraham to give God first place in everything. 

God also tries the sincerity of those today who claim to love Him (Matthew 22:36-37). Jesus was so concerned that we have our priorities right that He made this radical statement: “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple”- Luke 14:26

“You shall have no other gods before me” - Exodus 20:3. Way back in Sunday school I used it tell myself, no way I am ever going to have other gods before God. I am not going to worship those man made statues. Only later did I realise the meaning of that commandment. There were just so many things in my life fighting that were fighting for that number 1 spot. At times I would tell myself, this is definitely not more important than God but when the time arose to give it up, I simply could not.

The road to perfection is never an easy one. Like a gold bar, we as children of God are continually refined daily by trials and suffering. Sometimes these trials reveal to us our true priorities in life and sometimes even, to show us how far we have strayed. Christ calls us to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him (Matthew 16:24)  

So in response, let us reflect today on the things that we value most in our lives. Are our priorities in line with that of God’s? If you were called today to follow God in some way that would cost you something, what would hold you back?
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” – Matthew 6:33

- Alex Tan

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May 8, 2012

Different but not less

Not too long ago, I watched a movie titled “Temple Grandin”.

It’s about a movie of a person who suffers from autism. She grew up in a life of hardship and bully, confusion and always misunderstood. There is one part of the movie where her favourite science teacher talks to her mother when she wanted to give up sending her child (Temple) to the school. (She was tempted to just protect her from the real world and hide her at home)

One line caught me, her mother told the teacher : “She is different, not less”.  The teacher paused for a moment, acknowledged with a nod and replied “Different but not less”.

But that’s one of the main issue in this world that it has never stopped until today. The oppression of different people will always strive through because of sin. Did you know In India, there is a class known as the “dalit” where they are treated less than human?  In their society, the dalits "pollute" higher class people with their presence, touch or even their shadow! 

This is one of the truths that Christ Himself wants us to know about every person there is in this world. No one is lesser than the other just because they have a certain disease, social status or just simply don’t fit in. He wanted all of us to know that we were made in His image! It doesn’t mean they are a defected creation just because they were born differently from the “normal”.

Even until today in where I work, I still see people who don’t behave what people consider as “normal” and hence given a different treatment. I’ll be honest,  I have a tendency to follow what the crowd is doing by treating them like how others are treating them ; especially when I am not close to God. The thing is, what we don’t realize when we’re doing to them is that it really hurts.  The issue with us is that we think they deserve it since they are naturally so annoying and despicable. Sometimes we even justify it by saying that they chose to be the way they are so I am doing them a favour by letting them know that it’s unacceptable.

But that’s far from the truth, for no one has the right to hate or treat one lesser than what a normal human should get no matter how different they are from us. When Jesus came, we all knew He chose to be with the poor and where the unwanted people are. If you ask me right now where Jesus would be if He is still around, He will be among the Dalits! He could’ve chose to be where what people deem as “highly sought after” because they deserve it  - The PHD graduates, the successful businessmen, the handsome and the beautiful and the list goes on. The fact that He didn’t, tells a lot where His heart lies upon.

Matthew 6 : 21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Throughout the Bible, from the Israelites of the Old Testament until when Jesus came, God has always expressed one thing He always upholds as crucially important - to free the oppressed and to manifest what true love is.

Don’t ever think that your actions are not as serious as the word “oppress”. You don’t have to be beating someone or forcing them as slaves before it is considered an act of oppression. Not doing something about it or merely giving them the cold shoulder when they need help is also an act of oppression.

With that in mind, I always do my best to resist the temptation of that justification and do what I can do to care and love these people just as how God would’ve loved me.  I will still talk to them even if their replies don’t make sense, invite them out for lunch even if I don’t enjoy their company and take the trouble to correct them and guide them even if they don’t listen after telling for the 10th time.

Mark 12 : 30 – 31 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[There is no commandment greater than these.”
When Jesus told about the greatest commandment especially on the verse - “Love your neighbour as yourself”, He never made any exception to the neighbor, it is simply just “neighbor”.

Today in your own church, do you see such people? How have you been treating them?  Today in your own home, in your school or tuition, how do you see them? Again, How have you been treating your “neighbour”?

“Different but not less”!

(Temple Grandin)

- Gary Heng