2012-08-30 Reflection on the Sunday's readings: Daniel Daring Previous reflections
The word or the world –
were sitting together discussing the accomplishment of their first project for
the poor. It was a small agricultural project, yet it benefited many. There was
a small problem, however. A large amount of money was left unused. Should they
inform about it, the donors? The following dialogue took place:
A: The prices for the seeds and animals are too low. We have to make them
higher, so the rest of the money can be used for other things.
B: I was also thinking this way. But, the donors shouldn’t know about
it. So, let us improve the accounts.
they began to change all the prices overruling the voice of their conscience
reasoning that they are securing the money for other projects.
to fit the Word into the world
compromise means to do something that is against your
principles or does not reach standards that you have set (Oxford Dictionary). To compromise also means to fall short of the standards set by God.
Jesus in the Gospel of Mark rebuked the Pharisees and teachers of the law for
having let go of the commands of God and holding to their traditions (Mark
7:5-13). As long as we think about the Pharisees, we can congratulate ourselves
for not being like them. Looking in the mirror is a little more difficult. Let
me illustrate it with some examples.
Christian society. The divorce rates are increasing, corruption is rampant; gay
and lesbian marriages are institutionalized, and Christian nations go from one
war to another. Is this what God’s word is teaching us? Did God not say:
“. . . do not break faith with the wife of your youth,” (Malachi 2:14);
“Do not pervert justice” (Leviticus 19:15);
“If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable” (Leviticus 20:13);
“Christ is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14)?
Paul tells us, “Do not conform any longer to the
pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”
(Romans 12:2), and yet, it becomes all too easy for us to compromise God’s
word. We use all our defense mechanisms, reasoning, intellectual capacities, and
even the so-called common sense trying to bend God’s word into the reality of
our lives, so our beliefs, moral standards, and behaviors could be justified. We
often follow the Scottish proverb that says: “better bend than break.” Is
this the Christian way of living, however? Should it not be the other way
around? “We don’t change God’s message. His message should change us”
(quote from a friend). By trying to bend the word of God, so it could fit within
our reality, we end up hurt and broken.
the world into the word
James in his letter wrote: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22). All of us are familiar with these advertising phrases: “Everyone else is doing it;” “Nobody has to know;” “You can do what you want and get away with it.” They sound so positive, so reassuring. They take away all guilt and responsibility for our choices and decisions. Yet, these worldly phrases stand in opposition to the word of God. The Bible challenges us to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13). We are told to walk by faith, which means all sorts of trials and tests for the sake of God (James 1:2-4). We are also aware that even if nobody knows, God knows, because “nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight” (Hebrews 4:13). Finally, we know that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).
It is not by worldly phrases that we should organize our lives, no matter how sweet they may sound. It is by God’s word that we are called to live, because it is the foundation of our faith: “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8). That is what Jesus taught us: “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4).
Taylor (1832-1905), a missionary to China and the founder of Overseas Missionary
Fellowship, began his journey of faith by testing God’s promises. The question
that bothered him at the beginning of his missionary life, was whether he could
rely on God for all his needs. He put it in such a way:
“When I get to China, I shall have no claim on anyone for anything. My
only claim will be on God. How important to learn, before leaving England, to
move man, through God, by prayer alone” (Hudson
Taylor’s Spiritual Secret, 1989:32).
exchanged his world view for God’s word and God’s promises. The results were
amazing. God proved Himself faithful. He provided financial assistance and
workers for the mission. He worked miracles and wonders in their midst. He
blessed Taylor, and all his assistants and workers, with wisdom and strength to
preach the Gospel in the places where the name of Jesus was still unknown. He
also opened the hearts of many Chinese to accept the faith. “Enough that God
my Father knows: Nothing this faith can dim. He gives the very best to those who
leave the choice with Him” (Hudson
Taylor’s Spiritual Secret, 1989:43). At the end of his life, Hudson Taylor
was sure of the truthfulness of God’s word: “I shall never leave you, nor
forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5); “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I
will do it” (John 14:14).
James in his letter tells us that God chose to give us birth through the word of truth (1:18), that we should accept the word planted in us (1:21), and that we should do what the word tells us to do (1:22). The Book of Deuteronomy advises, “Walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess” (5:33).
word or the world; we constantly face this choice. A.W. Tozer said that “to be
right with God has often meant to be in trouble with men.” I would say that to
choose the word of God often means to be against the standards of the world. And
we should remember that “the world and its desires pass away, but the one who
does the will of God lives for ever” (1 John 1:17).