Monthly Archives: December 2009

“How dare you?”

“How dare you question or try to redefine the Gospel?” Actually I am not. Plus, this is the same accusation that was given to Jesus, to which he responded by saying that he was not teaching anything againts the Law, but confirmation of it.  My response to this question would be, “And how dare you live your life without loving your neighbor as you love yourself?”  In other words, “How can you continue to live your life claiming that you are a Christian or simply a good person when other people around you are suffering because of hunger, sickness, abuse, and other evils and you ignore it because you believe it is someone else’s responsibility?”  This is what Jesus taught when he said “Love your neighbor as yourself” and “When you feed the hunger, give water to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned and the sick, then you have done it to me”. The main message of the Gospel is not our salvation, although this is a means to an end.  The “end” or the main reason underlining the revolution that Jesus started was to depend on God and then bring justice, redeem those in need, and serve others, unconditionally.  This is introduced when Jesus read the scriptures from the book of Isaiah describing himself by saying ” The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed,to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor”. You might ask “Why are you saying that the salvation of souls is not the main message?” Because Jesus said “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’  Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!‘ “(Mt. 7:21).  So if we don’t do the will of the Father, our salvation is lost.  We are saved to do His will, not just to be saved and continue to live selfish lives.   I am not implying that we must work to be saved, because our salvation is truly from faith, but like James said in chapter 2:14-17, “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?  Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’  but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead”.  Need more evidence?  Jesus taught in Mathews 24 that on the last day the unsaved “will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me’ ‘Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” And “if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness” (Isaiah 58:10). Simply put, the Gospel is not about us; it is really about God, Who is glorified when the Church does His will: serve the “least of these” (The Kingdom of Heaven).  Let us stop being self-righteous, and start being the body of Jesus and follow His true example.

Please take no offense, but think about the real message that Jesus taught us: not simply to be saved and bring others to salvation, but once saved, work on bringing justice and redemption to those in need.  Start  by practicing what Jesus taught in the Beatitudes (be poor in spirit, meek, accepting of suffering, just, peacemaker, merciful, and persecuted because of this Kingdom of Heaven).  This is also summarized when Jesus told the Pharisee that the most important Commandment “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.  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.”  This is truly a social revolution, with the help of God, to help those who are the least, be the greatest.  Do we dare do this?


What if…?

What if we could make a commitment to help someone else besides ourselves, outside of our regular duties such as immediate family and work, for a week, expecting nothing in return?  What would be the result of this new task?  I am curious, for this is what Jesus taught us to do.  Are we brave enough to do this?

What if we, Christians, simply act and do the same thing that Jesus taught us?  How different would be the world with Christians who actually live the Kingdom of Heaven?  I think that non-Christians would change their perspective of us.  And it is not so that others can think highly of us, but so that we can simply follow Jesus’ command about what we are supposed to do. “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord!’ but do not do what I say?” This is exactly what Jesus keeps asking me in my heart, I can almost hear him.  Sometimes I am ashamed of being labeled as a Christian, because I let my selfish nature take over and prevent me from living the Kingdom, serving others unconditionally.  “Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Me!” Yes, I can hear Jesus telling me this over and over again.  How can I start this LIFE?  By looking at the other human being besides me and serving him or her.  Studying and living what Jesus taught on Mathews chapter 5 is an excellent beginning.

What if I do this, what change will it bring….?

You see,  I have come to the conclusion (and I am still searching for more profound understanding) that Jesus didn’t just teach about forgiving sins, but also about what we should do once we realize that our sins are forgiven.  We are not saved so that we can continue to go to church and continue to be “fed”.  No, we are saved so that we can go out and serve others, even those we don’t feel like serving, like “our enemies”.  The same way that Jesus washed his disciples’ feet, we should do for others because he said “I have given you the example, so that the same way I just did, you do.” (John 13:14).

Close my eyes

I close my eyes, most of the time, and see a life where I determine my destiny.  I choose what I am going to do, I pick my clothes, food, place to live, and way of life.  I keep my eyes close and see a fairly acceptable life where I try to live the American Dream, succeed in my career, love those who love me, and be a respectful civilian.  Yes, this is the life I choose to live, and I decide to continue to live, as long as I keep my eyes shut.  But the second I open my eyes, I see horror. So I close them again.  I don’t want to see what is out there.  I feel safer right where I am, in my comfort zone.  But I remember those images when I opened my eyes.  They are full of hunger, thirst, famine, natural disasters, hatred, and injustice.  They are the reminder of the real world.  But I don’t want to live in the real world.  I prefer to be safe, in my own world, with my eyes shut.  I also claim to be a spiritual person, because I go to church, with my eyes closed.  I greet people, give offerings, and read the Bible, with my eyes closed.  Jesus says He is the light, but I don’t see him.  He says He is the Way, but I don’t follow him.  He says that I must deny myself in order to follow Him, but I don’t, because my eyes our closed, afraid to discover what does denying myself means.  But HE also said that if I don’t feed Him, give Him water, visit Him in prison and when sick, then I am not invited in His Kingdom.  That sounds rude and unfair, because I go to church and give offering.  How can He not invite me? I read the Bible and believe that He is my Savior.  What am I missing that He might not invite me in his Kingdom?

Lesson 5 : Have Mercy

“Blessed are those who are merciful, because they will receive mercy”.  Sounds good, right?  But what does it involve?  What do you think of murderers?  How about sex offenders, thieves, terrorists, and abusers?  Not very highly, I suppose.  And I don’t blame you if you don’t, for they are the least respected because of their evil actions.  But should we treat them the same way we treat others?  I know this would bring up controversy, but what did Jesus teach us about those who persecute us and are considered our enemies?  Simply, to love and pray for them.  Impossible?   I can relate to that, but Jesus said that for God, nothing is impossible.  Jesus taught that part of practicing the Kingdom of Heaven, in addition to depending on God, accepting our weaknesses, being meek, and fighting for righteousness, is also to have mercy on everyone, even those who we don’t feel like having compassion for.  Jesus did not talk about things we are already used to or comfortable with.  If that would be the case, then Jesus would not have made history.  No, Jesus taught us to be different, to do what seems to be impossible, to walk the extra mile; in other words, to be perfect as “the Father in Heaven is perfect”.  If we think that Jesus is unreasonable by teaching to have mercy on everyone, then our hearts are not ready for the Kingdom and He will cast us out on the last day.  As simple as that.   Make no exceptions, include everyone. Does that mean we should invite sex offenders and murderers in our homes and have dinner with them?  Not necessarily, but visit them in prisons, provide them with education, don’t deny them the right to live respectful lives.  If they need to be kept away from society to prevent them from hurting others, let it be, but visit them and continue to care for them.  The same goes to other “undesired” people such as the homeless, the HIV positive, the prostitutes, the alien, and everyone else who does not share our values.  Treat them with compassion and love, so that we can be treated the same way.

“The Hole in our Gospel”

I finally found a book that describes what I have been sharing in this blog, it is a book by Richard Stearns called the Hole in our Gospel. It simply talks about what we have been missing from living the Gospel, namely serving and helping others in need, not simply going to church and giving offerings. I am glad I am not the only one in the Christian community who thinks like I do. “There is no ‘whole Gospel’ without compassion and justice shown to the poor.  It’s that simple” (pg. 60, The Hole in our Gospel).