Monthly Archives: October 2011

Am I Called to be Human?

Are we supposed to be humans, or something else? I had a very deep conversation with a coworker I value a lot.  She shared about her frustration with a consumer that has been a challenge…. I shared the same.  I said ” This consumer brings the worst out of me”  Then she started talking about “giving it to God.”  Was this a message from above, the answer to my prayers?  She also talked about changing our attitudes, instead of expecting others to change.  It was also mentioned that it is written “All things can be done in Jesus who strengthens me”.   I then thought about “turning the other cheek”, “forgiving others”, and “walking the extra mile.”  Are these things we normally do in life? Not really.  It is not human nature.

Then my coworker stated that it is not humanly possible to forgive a person as challenging as this consumer.  Then I asked “Are we called to be humans?”  Or are we called to be something greater than what our human nature is composed of?  And if I choose to believe that I should be perfect, does this mean I am living based on self-righteousness?  Am I fooling myself by trying to live beyond what is “humanly possible?”  Or am I really following a path closer to the Truth?

Consider the following conversation that I imagine having with God.  I start by asking questions and God answers:

What am I supposed to do in this life?

Love Me.

How exactly can I love something or someone who I cannot see?

It is the same as loving the person next to you.

But I don’t like or feel comfortable interacting with the person right next to me.  How can I love that person?

That is what love is…. genuinely caring for those you don’t necessarily associate with or like.

Well then loving you is extremely difficult.  Why make this love so hard to do?

Because you don’t do it with your own strength, but with my strength.

How can I use your strength then?

Simply ask.

It takes a lot of guts to give up on our “humaness” and submit to an  “unhuman” supreme Being. Right?  We want to love others our way, but by doing this, we naturally exclude some.  We reject those we dislike simply because of their differences.  We want to be acknowledged and belong, so we love only those who will make us feel important.  The love that God teaches us does not require a reward from our fellow humans.  It is rewarding in itself. Loving others the way God loves us is pure joy, regardless of how other humans respond.  It is difficult, uncomfortable, even scary.  But I believe it is what we are called to do.


God is not your God

We usually invent God. We have a tendency to create our own “Gods” to fit our selfish concept of what life is about.  We tend to fabricate a divine being so that we can justify our individual ambitions and world views.  If I am usually angry or dissatisfied with life, I create a God that punishes and brings justice.  If I am grateful, I create a merciful and forgiving God.  If I am materialistic and ambitious, I create a God who provides. If I have little interest in the meaning of life,  I create a distant God who does not require much of my attention.  Instead of  searching God with no prior assumption, we prefer to have a concept of what God should be and then live based on this assumption.  We are usually too full of our own interpretations and preconceived ideas of the meaning of life.  We try to manipulate God.

In Taoism, the word “wu” refers to emptiness, or not having desires or the state of mind characterized by simplicity, quietude, patience, frugality and restraint. It is an emotional or psychological stance associated with the lack of worldly desire.  To desire to have a lot, and to consume as much as possible, creates a lack of space for God. Therefore, we create a God that accommodates to our own selfish approach of a full life, according to our definition of life.  But God should define us, not the other way around.

Being empty handed brings out a more accurate experience of God.  What do I mean by this?  Jesus taught that “blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”  In other words, erase our pre-conception of what life should be, and fill ourselves with the real meaning of Life and God.  I acknowledge this is easier said than done, which is why Jesus also described it as the “narrow path.”  David wrote “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1)  In the second letter to  Corinthians (3:5), Paul teaches that only God makes us competent.  What makes us rich is not our materialistic possessions, but the simplicity and humility that only the true God gives.

I recently heard the news that one of my distant aunts is in a comma.  She is dying.  This kind of news reminds me of the limitations of this life.  It makes me wonder even more “what is all of this really about? Why do we live to eventually die at the end?”  What am I supposed to think? Why is God unfair?  God must have a purpose?  If I have expected God to be merciful, I would be disappointed.  If I have assumed God to be punitive, then I question why is He punishing us?  If I thought of God as distant, it would distant God even more from me.  What am I to think about God in difficult situations like this?  Can I simply not judge God at all and accept it as it is?  If we practice  being “poor in spirit” and “emptiness”, I think the answer is yes.

Which kind of God do you believe in?  What kind of world view defines your God? Do you dare empty yourself, deny yourself, and allow God to define your life?


Is Heaven Possible?

feed poor

Is it possible to have a society where people voluntarily give others what they need, to the point of ending poverty and hunger? Is it attainable to live in a country where medical care, food, and shelter are strictly handled as human rights and, therefore, free of any charge?  I dream of a society where people treat each other with respect and dignity.  Where citizens do not talk to each other because of hopes of obtaining some personal gain, but because of genuine care.  A society where the needs of others are as important as the need of the self.  The current government has tried to help those in great need through mandatory federal programs, such as social security, Medicaid, Medicare, etc.  But the problem remains.  I am not an expert in economics, politics, or finances.  I am just an ordinary citizen who realizes that this country- this world- needs to change for the better.  It is sad to stop and realize that the poor continues to be poor, and the rich continues to be rich.  I am not a socialist, which is why I believe that a society where people give voluntarily would be the best one.  But my question remains, is this even  possible?

I have wanted to work in a place where I serve the poor, but I have found myself doing a lot of administrative work instead.  The ordinary routine of everyday life remains the main barrier to living this dream I have.  It prevents me from living the Kingdom.  Instead, it has become a living hell. And hell is exactly what so many of these needy people experience on a daily basis, in the midst of wars, abuse, abandonment, and financial crisis.   So many barriers, bureaucracy, politics, and rules that do not permit me from doing what I want to do.  My heart hurts when I see the continuation of the injustice and suffering of the “least of these”.  I can say that hell surely exists here on earth, but what about heaven?  Does it exist here on earth?

Jesus said that I should be blessed for having “hunger for righteousness”.  Am I truly blessed?  Jesus told Pilate “My Kingdom is not of this world” and also “I came to be the witness of the Truth”.  Was he trying to start a new society, which he called the Kingdom of Heaven?  Was he trying to start a new social and political movement, which was violently opposed  by the officers of the already settled society, which ultimately put Jesus to death, accusing him of blasphemy against the Jewish God, and revolution against the Roman empire?  And if so, did he fail or did he somehow managed to start this new society which is now called the church?

I recognize that this post has more questions than answers.  But the truth is that life in general has more questions that we must ask than the answers we can come up with.  I do know and believe that Jesus taught us to live on this earth as it is lived in heaven.  He commanded us to give up everything to the poor (Mark 10:21), to be  humble (Mathew 11:28) to have mercy (Mathew 5:7), to fight for righteousness and peace (Mathew 6:33), to have clean heart (Mathew 5:8 ), and to simply be like children (Mathew 18:2-6 ) among other things.  But first of all, he taught us to depend on God.  Can we do this as human beings?  Can we let go of our prejudices, biases, and self serving habits and start serving those that need it the most?  What does it take for us to move forward and live the Kingdom of Heaven?