I read one time that surrender means lack of suffering, because to suffer implies resistance. This sounds good until I apply it to a real life scenario. If I am starving because I have not eaten, I will continue to suffer even if I have surrendered to the hunger. I have accepted my hunger, but continue to suffer because my body keeps hurting and weakening. When a beloved family member leaves this earth, I will miss his or her presence, which brings suffering, but I can then surrender and accept it. My suffering will continue to surface periodically because I remember and miss this person. I will wish to have this person back on earth. It is normal and even healthy to suffer. Surrender to me is to accept the suffering, not to accept what caused the suffering and then pretend that the resistance is not there anymore. I believe that resistance (suffering) will continue to exist as long as I am living in this physical body. It is inevitable. My attitude about the resistance or suffering is what then determines if I have surrendered or not. Jesus taught us to “take the cross and follow Him”, not to leave the cross and follow him. He wanted us to “take it” and live with the cross, in other words, accept the fact that this life brings circumstances that we are not happy about which causes pain and suffering. But it is ok. Pain is ok. It is simply a reminder that we are not perfect and really need God’s intervention in our lives. Therefore, suffering is an instrument to getting closer to God. See? Suffering is not that bad after all. It actually can bring us to a more intimate relationship with God, if we surrender to it.
Monthly Archives: November 2010
Salvation. This is a complex word. In its simplest term, it means the act to be rescued from danger and death. In the traditional Christian doctrine, it means to be rescued from the eternal damnation of hell. In my experience first as a Catholic, followed by a Pentecostal, and then a reflective Christian, I have seen a slight difference of what Salvation signifies. Jesus said “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven (will be saved) but those who do the will of my Father (practice the KH)” ( Mt. 7:21). He also said “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward (Salvation) (Mt. 10:42).” He also taught that “condemnation (to be not saved) happens when men choose to love darkness more, because their deeds were evil (selfish) (Jn. 3:19).” Salvation, to me, means to be saved from the selfish lifestyle that will ultimately lead us to be away from the real Life, which is to live serving others, and therefore, living the KH. As long as we keep living selfish lives, we will be bound to our own desires, and continue to be addicted to our superficial and shallow desires. When we free ourselves from our obsession to please our selfish (and natural) desires, then we become truly Saved. Does this mean that there is no reward after life such as a heaven? No, I believe that there is also an eternal reward after this life, but the reward of Salvation starts when we feel the joy of serving others, like Jesus taught us to (Mt.5:12).
When I have a glass full of water, I can’t fit in anything else, because it will overspill. But if I empty the glass, then I will have the option of filling it with milk, juice, and anything else I want to drink. When I am full of preconceptions, bias, and rigid standards, then I have no room for anything else. My life remains the same and, therefore, there is no room for growth. Drinking just water, though healthy, does not allow me to nutrient myself with vitamin D from the milk or vitamin C from juice. My nutrition will be limited, not balanced.
A balanced life is the ultimate goal if I am going to serve God fully. Let me explain. Following a set of rules, tradition, or doctrine without the flexibility of learning from others impedes me from relating and bonding with others who are different from me. I must then empty myself from the preconception that what I have chosen to follow originally is the only doctrine that I will consider the rest of my life. Then, I have to allow myself to balance my life by practicing and following other doctrines. This may sound like a path to pluralism, but it is not. I am not suggesting to take all faiths as leading to God. What I am saying is that we should stop judging others prematurely simply because they are different from us. Having a strong foundation in my faith is important. Having the compassion and the willingness to listen to others without excluding them from “salvation” is even more important. Inclusion is the key. The opposite of inclusion is compartmentalizing, which is what most of us do when we segregate different cultures, churches, and areas of life. We tend to divide our lives by acting one way in front of our children and spouses, and totally different when going to work or church. We often praise God and give offerings in church on Sundays, and the following morning we curse at work and waste money on trivial things in fashion stores. We live compartmentalized lives. We keep ourselves full of our own values and interests. We live unbalanced lives. The idea is not to go to the other extreme and start giving all your money to every charitable organization, or to treat every single person as I do to my children. It is to choose wisely how to fully serve God. It is to balance our lives. But we must first empty ourselves from ourselves. We must deny ourselves.
Jesus clearly taught about emptying ourselves when he taught about turning the other cheek (as opposed to retaliation), walking the extra mile (as opposed to deny service), and loving our enemies (as opposed to hatred). He taught us to love others as we love ourselves. This is the main teaching of Jesus, but many people take His teachings to either extreme and say that we must follow rigid rules (the Ten Commandments) or rely solely on grace, without worrying about works. Paul taught that faith without works is empty, in other words, do both, not just one of them. But we rather think in extremes, because we still have not emptied ourselves. Jesus taught us to have mercy and pray for our enemies, but we rather maintain selfish lives, blame the poor for their needs, and curse our enemies, because we still have not emptied ourselves. It seems so safe to keep ourselves full of water, but this water will not allow us to experience the fullness of the Kingdom of Heaven. Emptying ourselves, and then keeping our lives balanced, like Jesus taught us, will lead us to Salvation.