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Friday, May 18, 2012

Living with Life

I am sitting in a hospital cafeteria as I write this blog. Today was my day to drive my wife to Williamsburg so she could conduct an infection control meeting. The hospital cafeteria is open and bright with lots of outside light. There are only a few people sitting around me. A monitor is playing a promo piece for the hospital. Most people watch it as they come and go in the cafeteria. This beautiful hospital is proud of their reputation for caring for people. They are proud of saving lives and giving people a better quality of life. They should be proud of their record. It is admirable.

Of course, they never say that the people who were helped will some day die regardless of the hospital's best efforts. All their doctors, nurses and technicians will not be able to extend life for anyone forever. And, of course, the hospital does not address whether the people are living lives which are full. Many people have their lives extended by this hospital but they do not really understand what it is to live. Anyone can live without out having life. Giving real life cannot be done by a hospital.

Many people who are looking forward to having life never really have it. They think that they will find life in graduation, marriage, a career, children, weekends, parties, vacations, a new house, retirement, etc. They work very hard to accomplish, afford and reach these things. They may even find that these things provide a respite from the boredom but they do not truly find life. Sometimes they wonder if there is more. Is there something more than going to school, getting a job, getting married, having and raising children, retirement and death? Is there more to living than fogging a mirror when you breathe?

I think is is strange that Jesus came to give life but people think that living a Christian life will stifle life. They think that going to church is boring. They cannot imagine reading their Bibles each day. They only understand prayer as an act of desperation. They are okay with tipping their hats toward God but they really don't want to have anything to do with pursuing Him. Their natural minds tell them that this will keep them away from really living.

Years ago I went into a neighborhood to invite people to revival services we were having at our church the upcoming week. I found a lady working in her flowerbeds. As I approached I said, "Hi, my name is Prentis. I am the pastor (of the church I was serving then). I just wanted to invite you to our church."

She looked up for a moment and then down at her flowers. She said, "I tried church once and I found I didn't like it."

Before I thought I said, "And I'll bet you're not going to like hell, either." Fortunately, she didn't hear me. She didn't know the life that Jesus gives because she thought that people were saying that life comes from going to church. She had tried it once and found that life wasn't there. You know something: she is right! Church doesn't give us life; Jesus does.

We don't' attend church until we like it. We attend church because of the life that Jesus has given us makes this mean something to us. Truthfully, those walking outside of Jesus generally find church boring.

Funny, but I really can't explain the life that Jesus gives us. He fills what can't be filled with events or possessions. He makes life worth living. He gives forgiveness and purpose. He gives direction in what will make our lives full. He fills our hearts.

My job and the job of everyone who knows Jesus is to bring Him to others. We can't give the life we have but we can tell others of the one who can.

Extending life for some people is just giving more of the same life that they have had. Jesus does more than that. He gives them a new life.


John 10:10 (NIV)
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. 

3 comments:

high-expressions said...

"people think that living a Christian life will stifle life." (from the article). So very common. This reminds me of a varsity friend whom I am still in touch with. Years ago, this friend thought exactly that; yet he was the one who brought me to this church that I have been with, since. This friend got me to tack along, for he knew of this one girl from this church. Although this friend eventually did give his life to Jesus and went to church; he was then NOT prepared to be stifled by a Christian life! The church was (and still is, because there are just more women than men, in churches) a "hunting ground"; and since the season was over, he was there, no more.

For me, it was different, I promised during my varsity days (prior to that) that I would devote time to seek Him after my graduation, and I asked God to let me concentrate on my studies, which then, was a big challenge, for I had then, from a pure Science stream background, embarked on an Accountancy degree, taking subjects like accounting, business and laws! And so, I remembered my promise, and so, I went to the church with the intent to seek Him, whereas my friend was there for a different agenda. And yes, this friend knew enough then, about the righteousness pertaining to the faith, and he knew the incompatibility of the same to that of the world, and he was NOT prepared to become a Christian yet, and to miss out on "enjoying life" in the world (actually of the world).

I continued with church, stayed with the church, enjoyed church. The saga continues, many years past, and a couple of years ago, my wife divorced me; of course, I did NOT want that, but could NOT help it, and the story is too long to talk about here; but despite this friend, who by then, already became a Christian, and married, with a daughter, knowing how I struggled to come to terms with my wife divorcing me, he went ahead to divorce his wife. I don't think I am wrong to say, my friend's wife and I, are both victims (in case, people misunderstand, the 2 divorces are unrelated). This friend of mine, went ahead to divorce his wife, for reason that he missed his "good old days"; he wanted to unstifle his life, which to him, was stifled by his marriage. When he revealed of his intention to me, I realised how much his intended divorce resembled my own case, except the roles were switched. Despite my counseling him NOT to do it, he still went ahead to "unstifle his life".

It got nothing to do with intelligence and things like that, but it seems to have everything to do with people having entered into salvation, still do NOT grow out of their love for the world. The heart and mind of this friend of mine was NOT transformed. For a lot of people, the willingness of the heart is just NOT there; and when the willingness is lacking, often what can be observed, is that the Spirit of God, workeths NOT. Not only this friend “unstifled” his life from his marriage, apparently he also unstifled his life from the church.

I am NOT trying to say it is any church's fault, for my friend was NOT from my church, but my ex-wife attended the church I am with, both still ended up divorcing their spouses NOT for any situation remotely covered by the Word. Seeds fall on both good and bad soil, according to one of the parables in Scripture; or rain or water on pieces of land; yet growth is the order of the day for one, and NOT for another, yet good fruit comes forth from one, and NOT for the other. Nonetheless, it is still the church's job to work with the Lord to feed the sheep, that believers will grow, and grow out of their love for the world, to leave the old life for good, and to pursue the Kingdom Life. People got to be told that the Kingdom Life is NOT an optional life, or just a way of life, but it is the mandated way of life for a believer.

COnt...

high-expressions said...

Cont. from above

The message that they have committed to follow Jesus, and therefore, the ways of the Kingdom, and that they no longer can entertain the embracing of the ways and the life of the world, has to get through. The Lord's call is both, to save and to disciple - the Great Commission. It is NOT merely to get people to enter into salvation. Pastors, if they are NOT careful, they end up neglecting the discipling part. When Jesus told Peter to feed His sheep, 3 times, what was His intention? Jesus meant that sheep are to be taught and reminded to live the Kingdom Life. Some people just pretended that Jesus was superfluous; just wanting to pastors and preachers to keep reminding the sheep that they are saved! “Feed my sheep” does NOT mean that! I am NOT saying one cannot be called as an evangelist, but even an evangelist must know that he finishes with one part of a whole job, and someone has to do the next part, which is discipling the new converts.

We don’t get to decide on the baggage that people are having when they do come into the church; and people do come in, with all kinds of baggage, and mixed motives. If they linger NOT, perhaps, there is little you can do, but if they do linger, and further, enter into salvation, then, it is the pastor in charge of the local church’s responsibility to disciple them.

Sure, we cannot force people, if they do NOT want to be discipled. But we should NOT play God either, meaning, we don’t decide who is “cannot change-lah” and “who can”. We just have to do our part, best even. More and more, I learn there is such a thing as an opportune time, and we should seize opportune times, be it in discipling or letting the Holy Spirit to minister. For example, when is the best time to drive home the message about believers have to commit to the ways of the Kingdom, and what the key things are, concerning the ways? It is the local church’s membership and baptism class. What do you teach in this class? Who teach in this class? If I have my way, the Senior Pastor or the pastor in charge of the church should do it! Don’t just delegate this away to any pastoral staff!

I have better NOT go on, along this line anymore, or Ps Prentis might …..

But seriously, we really don’t get to decide what they come with, unless you pick and choose; but the Lord does NOT prescribe such; so don’t do it. Concentrate on telling people, what they have to hear, even though it may NOT be popular. The truths are to somebody difficult to stomach; but we don’t stop doing that, just because it is so, because how can be people be freed, when they heareth NOT, the truths; for it is the truths that set people free, said the Word. Although it is NOT plainly stated in there, that, it is applied truths that set people free, revelation points to that. So, go tell people they have to apply truths from the Word in their lives. “Boring, boring”. So what, if it is the truth, boring or NOT, preach it, teach it, instruct it. Oh, oh, there, I go again.

high-expressions said...

Cont. from above

Ok, what do you do with, “I tried church, but I did NOT like it”? There are only 3 routes to this: One, “Sir or Ms, try again”, or whatever you say or do, the point is to get him/her to try again. Two, bring the church to him/her, or three, do both, get him/her to come to church, and you also bring the church to him/her. Don’t be pushy, though.

But what is this Kingdom Life? It is a life that takes a lifetime to learn; and I am still learning! It begins with Ps 89:14, and such verse as Matt 6:33 – “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” The life of the Kingdom has got to do, primarily, with the righteousness and justice of God; and Jesus exemplied righteousness and justice of God; and so, Jesus could say, “ I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full. All Christians need to understand well, Matt 6:33, and apply it in their lives. As we apply it in our lives, we live the Kingdom Life. Want a good exposition of Matt 6:33 – go here: http://high-expressions.blogspot.com/2012/05/but-seek-ye-first-kingdom-of-god-and.html

Anthony Chia, high.expressions