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Friday, May 25, 2012

There's Spam in My Faith

I just opened my email. There were around 120. Not one of them was a personal message for me except for those sent because someone comments on my blog. (You may not know it but your comments come to me as email before I post them. That means that the spam people try to insert as comments never make it to the comment page.) There is so much spam that I may miss a genuine email sometimes. I delete the whole lot without looking too hard. No spam blocker is going to tell me what I really need to read. I wish I had something which only gave me the really important messages.

I was thinking of this when I remembered that someone came to Jesus and asked Him what was the most important commandment.

Matthew 22:34-40 (ESV)
34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”
37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” 

They were testing Him. Did He know what was the most important? Did they?

Jesus knew exactly what was important. He knew the "string theory" of our faith. All the law and the prophets hung on these two commandments.

It hit me that all of my faith can be tied into those two commandments. These two commandments will interpret the rest of Scripture. They will allow me to focus my life each day so that I can filter through the spam the world throws at me.

These two commandments give me two things I must ask myself at the beginning and the end of each day: Will I love God with all that I am today? Will I love others as I love myself? And at the end of the day I must ask: Did I love God with all that I am today? Did I love others as myself?

Of course, this sounds oversimplified but it isn't simple at all. If it was, I would do it everyday and filter through the spam. I wouldn't allow the challenges of this world to distract me from the two most important commandments.

So, the question is: Will I act today like these are the two most important commandments on which my whole faith depends?


high-expressions said...

Indeed life is about choices, and the overarching wisdom for Christians is to stick to the foundation of the faith and the foundation of the kingdom that we have entered, the Kingdom of God. We are faced daily with choices and distractions.

Some of us envy the non-believers; that they are at liberty to pick and choose what they want to subscribe to, as their yardstick of measurement for life. Yesterday, they could have embraced Mr So and So's theory of staying at the top, or managing their careers, or securing riches before the age of ....; today, they find Ms So and So's theory as more relevant for the times we are in, for the same thing, and they are at liberty to drop one and adopt another, much like changing clothes! But we should NOT be envious of them; rather we should be pleased we are settled in our heart as to what is our yardstick of measurement for life, is.

This is why: We are standing and walking on solid ground, why do you want to envy those standing and walking on shifting sand. They put one foot on this patch, and only later, to have to quickly remove it, before the ground sucks the leg in. Another word for shifting sand is quicksand; and if we have watched any movie clip on people finding themselves in quicksand, we know there is just no way out, except being hauled out of it - someone has to throw you a line and pull you out.

When I did an internet search just to make sure I get the spelling of quicksand right, I found that many years back, a metal band played the song, "Quicksand Jesus"; and it created some "uproar" over what was the intent of the song; was it mocking the church or was it a genuine metaphor? As against us, was the portrayal of Jesus sucking us in, we cannot get out, or be at liberty to adjust our yardstick of measurement for life. The opposite picture, positive for us, was that Jesus is indeed the quicksand Jesus, for He is the one and only one, who can haul us up from the quicksand that we are already in, in the first place.

Of course, I choose to look at Jesus, as the second case, in the positive light, and it is solely because the Bible painted so. Actually, UNSAVED men are in quicksand, and NOT, when they are in "deep-shit" that they have fallen into a quicksand; they are already in the quicksand, in the first place; it is only a matter of time before, they get to the part that would do them in! They can try all and any suggested ways, but there is no way, except Jesus coming to throw them a line of life, and haul them up from the shifting sand. Don't envy those who are can be flexible and change their yardstick, you, as Christian, are standing on solid ground already.

Thank God you are standing on solid ground, and no more, in the shifting sand. So, now, walk where there is solid ground, and NOT back into the quicksand. It is a "minefield" out there; and you need to stick to a God given way of maneuvering the minefield or quicksand, taking only the path of solid ground. If you are a Christian, you have to come to know what that yardstick comprises; if you still do NOT know that, you better work on it.


high-expressions said...

Cont. from above

Why? There are lots and lots of distractions or spam, out there. For a complex scenario, the way of making sense of things, is to view the whole from a certain number of angles or perspectives. For example, one perspective concerning the subject of life, is to look at life as a matter of choices, and so, we say life is about choices. Another perspective concerning the same, is to view life as a journey; meaning we are to be moving along. Whether you like it or NOT, each day, choices confront you, even if you do NOT make a choice, it is still a choice. Similarly, whether or NOT you move along or NOT, you are moved along, for one thing, time does NOT standstill for you. Time and tides wait for no one, we have this common saying. So, if life is a journey, where are you going? Are you going nowhere? Are you in the quicksand, and so, going nowhere? Is it really going nowhere when you are in the quicksand? We all are going somewhere, we intend it or NOT. Relative to the destination we are heading, whatever that confronts us, choices or attractions, they, ultimately are either positives or negatives. The negatives are termed as distractions (spam, perhaps, in Ps Prentis’ article), for they distract you from your destination; the positives are termed as the good works, and they direct you to your destination.

How do we know things thrown at us, all the time, in life, are distractions that would lead us back into the quicksand, or are good works leading us closer to our destination? Again, for a complex scenario, we require to view the whole from a number of angles or perspectives. The perspective, that Ps Prentis pulled out from Scripture,and was given by Jesus, is this: the perspective of love, - of loving God and loving one another as ourselves. It looks easy, these 2 directives from the Lord, but if we are to apply them in our lives, it may be difficult for many of us, if NOT all. Things are NOT difficult, if it only have to be, “I know that” or “I am conscious of that”. Real life is NOT like that; life demands choices; it allows no freezing or standstill. If you “know that” but you still do NOT, that, but instead do another thing, “I know that” will NOT help you along! We cannot say we “know that”, that we have to love God, but we do things to the contrary!

So, for Ps Prentis’ spam mails (distractions), you know you are NOT to open those “mature theme” mails, but you still do the contrary; mere knowing, surely will NOT help you. Knowing is only the beginning; it is IN the application that we learn and grow, and it is NOT easy, and in so many ways, it takes one’s life-time to be increasingly good at it. Don’t go after those preachers who tell it, as so very easy; you better be careful, taking in, by the mouthful, of what is being dished out to you, by such preachers.

If you love God, should you join others to persecute God’s servants or fellow Christians? Oh, that is simple enough; of course, you don’t. What about “Should I take up this overseas posting to this country; it means more is required of me, in terms of time and energy, but big pay packet and status are awaiting, too?” Now, this will be less straight-forward for some, right? Sorry, it is NOT every door opened to you, you take. Sorry, many of them, the doors, they open back into the shifting sand! How about this, “When are you going join the church as a pastor? We sure can see your love for God.” Now, that is even more difficult for a lot more people. The same goes with the 2nd bit of loving, loving another as yourself; “you mean I should decline my promotion, let the other chap have it!” That would be difficult!

Don’t say they are easy, but say we are to apply them in our lives, even though at times, they are difficult to apply.


high-expressions said...

Cont. from above

Apart from that key perspective of love which we have seen, there are other key perspectives of the Kingdom we have to embrace, collectively, they form the major and significant part of the yardstick of measurement we use in our journey of life. Of course, an easy and comprehensive way of saying what the yardstick comprises, is to just say the Word is the yardstick; but like I have said, at the end of the day, it is NOT “I know that” or “I am conscious of that” that counts. It is NO use to be merely knowing that the Word is the yardstick or you are conscious of that fact, but rather it is along the line of “what do you with the one talent I left with you?” It is knowing and applying, precept upon precept.

Indeed, the email spam is a good illustration of distractions; you did NOT invite the spam; they came at you. You may want to say, “No, Ps Prentis invited it, because he got onto the net.” Well, in that case, you got to cease your life-lah; then distractions cannot get to you!

Can you do nothing about this spam mails? No, you need to make a choice, to read or NOT to read, and to delete or NOT to delete, with or without reading them. Why? Because doing nothing will put you out of the net – yah-what, your mail box will be full, eventually, and nothing can reach you. It is like me, that I am a single parent with 2 teenagers, without domestic helper or help; if I don’t clean out and throw out the trash, soon the house is NOT livable, just imagine, the unwashed clothes, dishes, used food receptacles, the dirt and rubbish that get in and stay in, the bathroom stains and all; boy, you just use your imagination! My daughter said to me, “Pa, why is the floor so sticky?” And I would reply, “Dear, it is because it is NOT mopped!” Some more days went by, and conversation went the same, and my reply was “I know that”. The point is that the floor does NOT mop itself! It is either we complain until the “cows come home”, and we are still getting more spam or more sticky a floor, and that will be with consequences, or we are going to act on what we know.

Some people I call them, jokers, if they don’t like me calling them, certain kind of teachers, out there, paint the picture that we are just to be like tourists on a guided tour, we just have to get our butt onto the bus, and away we go, everything is taken care of, we are brought here, for sightseeing, and then there, for shopping, and then to this place, to eat our fill, and then, we are put to bed in a fancy hotel, and then next day, again, we will be cared for; and if we are NOT satisfied, we complain against the tour-guide, and if we are happy, we tip the fellow with our loose change, otherwise, we just take it that it is the fellow’s job, to guide us around. Get real! Real life is NOT like that, the trash needs to be taken out, the floor needs to be mopped, the bacon got to be on the table, and yes, the email box needs to be attended to, spam needs to discarded, proper mails need to be attended to, or replied. At times, NOT often, I stared at the mess in the house, and then I also knew I had this and that, from the office, from my ministry, and from personal issues, still NOT yet done, and I wondered if I could just leave them as there were, all these things; but I would still ended up with this: “Better start doing, something will go away, some things just won’t!”


high-expressions said...

Cont. from above

You see, you learn and grow as you go along; and so, as Christian, if you are NOT finding yourself learning and growing, you better examine yourself. Looking at the predicament of mine, you know what, it does NOT help, if you do NOT have already a yardstick of what is rubbish and what is NOT? If half of the time, I am still wondering if a thing in the house, is rubbish or NOT, I don’t get half the things done in the time I have. You see, NOT only you spend time deciding each time, for every one you so decide, is NOT rubbish, you have a) to clean it, and b) to store it somewhere! This is NOT to mention when the house is cluttered (because so many things are considered non-rubbish, and therefore kept), half of the time you cannot find a thing you need! So, the “secret” is to have a yardstick of what is rubbish and what is NOT; pre-decide it beforehand, and NOT, as and when you encounter, you decide if it is rubbish. If you have a pre-decided yardstick, everything is quicker and safer; if it is rubbish, out it goes. You see, if you already pre-decided what is rubbish, then you can keep as much of the rubbish from getting in, in the first place! Does it all make sense, with a pre-determined yardstick, you will have less rubbish in the house, and you will have less to clean or clear out. This is how we should learn to handle our life as a Christian, keep out the distractions, or the spam, and then for those that somehow got through, because we are NOT careful enough, we deal with it.

Who is to be blamed if you don’t learn and grow over time? Primarily, yourself. Surely I have to learn, and quickly too, how soiled food is like, in the house. I mean I learn soiled food or spoiled food has a recognizable smell, appearance, and taste. Then I also learn length of time, plays a part; the environment; the humidity and temperature, for example, also play a part. French fries in temperate countries keep longer than those, in a humid and hot country like Singapore!

What comes at you, it happens; the controllable part is how you keep the negatives or distractions out; and give your attention to the positives or good works that lead to your destination. There has been too much EISEGESIS of the “It is finished” words of Jesus. The simple EXEGESIS of this, is Jesus was simply expressing that He has finished all the good works He was to do, and so, the end-point for Him, had come, it was time for Him to enter His destination.

Who was the one who throw the life line to you when you are in the quicksand? Jesus. After resurrection, before He went back to Heaven to the Father’s side, what did Jesus say to his disciples concerning their journeys? In John 20:21, we read this, “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” How did the Father God send Jesus? We can talk about a few things, but relevant here, is that the Father sent Jesus to do His biddings, and that, generally, is what good works are; in other words, the Father sent Jesus to do good works He had intended Him to do, and when all of that was accomplished, Jesus went to the Father in Heaven. This is to be same understanding that we are to embrace for our lives.


high-expressions said...

COnt. from above

The Apostle Paul understood this; see what he said in Eph 2:10 – “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (The “for” here means, “the more important truth/point is”; and so, it meant vv8&9 [about salvation by grace] were important, but this v10 is even more important!). Did Paul subscribe to this, himself? Yes, he said, “To live is Christ, to die is gain” (Phil 1:21). Paul’s understanding of being the disciple of Jesus[and you are one, as a Christian] is this: Our life is no longer our own, we have been purchased by Jesus, and we are His, our life is to be lived for Christ, meaning through us, Christ Jesus’ biddings are to be done, just it was the case of the earthly life of Jesus, He was to live for the Father God, meaning through Him (Jesus), Father God’s biddings were done. So, if our lives are taking after Jesus’ pattern, when we breath our last, it is to mean that “we have finished” our good works, and death, as it was for Jesus, is to the time for us to enter our destination, to be with our Lord, Jesus, just as Jesus was resurrected to be with the Father God, on His death.

Does it mean that if we cut out the distractions, we are left with good works, to be engaged in? Yes, that is the overall picture from the overall counsel of the Word. Like that, “mampus-lah”; a Malay expression for “die-lah” Of course, it is NOT work and nothing but work. Jesus’ own earthly life was NOT like that. Of course, we are allowed to have food and drink, and clothing, shelter and rest, and recreation. Jesus said in Matt 6:32 that the Father God knows we need these things, and God promised that these would be added unto us, as long as we first, seek His Kingdom and His righteousness (Matt 6:33).

Have the Christian yardstick, with which, you can measure all spam or distractions. Knowing by the yardstick, is just the beginning; with knowing, you are to act accordingly, stay away from the spam or distractions, as far as possible. Some still come to you; hit it with the stick (yardstick), chuck it out; have nothing to do with it. Rather, concentrate on the positives, the good works you are to do; do them, for they serve to lead you to your destination. When it is all finished, you reach your earthly end-point,….. next is only your destination, ……………… Heaven, where you will be with your Lord, Christ Jesus. This is a good perspective of life, and is The Perspective from Scripture.

May God bless the reading of this comment. Anthony Chia, high.expressions