Noah   Leave a comment

Recently, I went to see the new movie starring Russell Crowe – Noah. I must say that I wasn’t expecting to cry during it, it was actually very surprising.

I have heard many Christians make comments about how inaccurate the movie was to the Bible, and how exaggerated it was. However, I had a very different viewpoint. I knew that it was a Hollywood blockbuster so I wasn’t expecting a Biblical retelling of the flood. Instead, I was deeply affected by the message behind the plot.

Firstly, Tubal-Cain mentioned that since man was created in the image of God, then man should have the power to decide whether he lives or dies. Yet, when the flood came, none is invincible to nature’s (therefore God’s) wrath.

This also brings me to the second point, where originally, Noah thought that God chose him because he could get the job done. But as the revelation for him comes through in the end, Ila tells him at the end of the film, maybe God didn’t choose him because he could get the task done, but because God knew that he had a merciful heart. Through Noah’s viewpoint, we saw the wickedness of men as they cannibalised one of their own in order to survive, but more importantly, we saw the goodness in men as well.

Like a metaphor, God needed to have justice done and punish the wicked, but He more importantly wanted to flourish grace and mercy upon us. Instead of destroying humanity at that point in history, God chose love over judgement and gave humanity a second chance.

I loved the humanity in the film. The possibility of Noah’s humanness and how he was chosen, not because he was holy or fit for the job, but because God saw the goodness in him. Noah’s struggle with what he thought was right in God’s eyes was an echo into our own lives.

Watching this film makes me happy that God’s image is still visible all over the world, not only where the church is, but also engraved in each of us. Noah’s story in the Bible reminds us of God’s incredible love for us, that instead of wiping out humanity, God chose a method of salvation that brings us closer into God’s kingdom.

Posted April 27, 2014 by shuoli85 in Uncategorized

Realigning Our Perspectives   Leave a comment

Originally posted on Finding Grace:

I think I completely missed the point about prayer. Admittedly, I have never been much of a prayer person at all. I think I tend to make excuses that I get caught up with the busyness of life to try to make the effort of setting a daily ritual of prayer. Sometimes, I have this theory that since God is all knowing, there is no real necessity for us to pray because God has everything under control. Sometimes, I even felt that prayer is one of two things. First, it is used by pastors and preachers at the front of the church on a Sunday service, using big words and fancy language to impress the church goers. Secondly, I guess sometimes there is pressure to pray out loud just to conform to the way of Christian living. Occasionally, out of desperate need, I would shout out to God in urgent…

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Posted March 20, 2014 by shuoli85 in Uncategorized

Job: The Background   Leave a comment

The Book of Job is by far one of the hardest Old Testament books I have read and it is far beyond my understanding as to why it was written and the significance of the writings in Job. I believe that every word written and recorded has its purpose and meaning, so I thought a more in-depth study into the Book of Job will help me to understand it a little better. What really baffles me is the first 5 verses of chapter one.

So here is a man from the land of Uz who was blameless, upright, feared God and hated evil. What I gather from this passage is that Job was a man from a land that is not of the Israelites. In a sense, he is a Gentile. Yet, he was blameless and upright. It doesn’t mean that he is holy or sinless, but simply is living in a way that honours, respects and fears God. For this man to have a whole book of his own in the Bible is pretty impressive to me and the fact that what happens to him really illustrates the importance that his life plays on a cosmic scale and how dear he is to the heart of God. The name Job itself in Hebrew is similar to a word that means “enemy” or “opponent”. This speaks into some symbolism as to Job being opposed to God for what had happened to him.

Job had seven children, 11,000 livestock and a household of servants. (v2-3) Not only was he rich, considering 11,000 livestock be worth at least AU$2.5 million in today’s market, but he had seven children. Seven, as we know, is the complete number. Job was blessed also with the perfect complement of sons and daughters. It is not easy, in the modern world, to have so much wealth and still be a blameless and upright man. Now days, I think we all get overwhelmed with all the materialism and modernism of our world that we tend to get head over heels with ourselves. Hence, he was known to be the greatest man in the East.

What is interesting is that in verse 4, the Bible talks about their sons holding feasts and inviting their sisters to come and join them. Yet, according to the scripture, Job was not invited, even though I don’t think he would have had gone anyways. After the feast, he would send for them and have them purified. Job was a responsible father who wanted the best for his children, not only financially but also spiritually. He cared for his children, and thus would repent on behalf of them to God. He feared that during their days of feasting, they would have committed sins against God. He also continually offered up his sacrifices. The act of repentance must be renewed because we often repeat our transgressions.

Looking at these five short verses, I continuously wonder the actual purpose for the passage. Is it really just to set the scene that Job was rich and he was righteous? Or this the author trying to say something else? Either way, this passage sets the next scene, where a spiritual wager is played out on earth…

Posted March 3, 2013 by shuoli85 in Uncategorized

Psalm 51   1 comment

Okay, I suddenly had a minor epiphany.

I am reminded of one of my favourite Psalms. Number 51. It is a very special psalm because it speaks to my heart so much.

“For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.” (v3)

This is the part that I can’t get rid of. I know that in this life, my blotches and marks are not going to go away. There will always be weakness in me that I need to work on. The thing is, I don’t think that throughout my life, it is just one weakness. Even if I corrected this one, there will always be other weaknesses that I need to improve on. I guess what I need to be aware of what my weaknesses are because those are the first line of attack that the enemy will try to use against us.

“Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” (v12)

Someone once said that happiness is a choice that we can make. I think a part of my problem is that I overthink too much. Pretty soon, that overthinking can turn dangerous and I can find all sorts of things wrong with me. People say that I am being too hard on myself. I guess it is because I don’t know any better. I have always tried to set the bar of self-expectation high, even if I know very well I can’t make it. I have an expectation that I must set the standard deliberately high enough so I can feel sorry for myself. It seems like I actually wanted people to feel sorry for me.

But verse 12 does remind me that Christ, through the shedding of His precious blood, has rebuilt the bridge between us and God. It is the salvation that washes away our sins, and the joy of that, no one can take it away from us. If we choose to believe in it, then what peace we can really have in that comfort. Like David, feeling guilty of my sins do make me sad and weak. Every day, I am in need of constant reminder that it is in Christ’s salvation that sin is forgiven, and it is through the Holy Spirit that we find strength to break through our sins.

“My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” (v17)

Sometimes, when we believe that we have nothing to offer to God, our brokenness may just be what God wants from us. As we are aware, pride is a dangerous thing as it will steer us away from the path of the Lord. God exalts humility, and I believe that acknowledging our brokenness and offering it to God is the first step to being humble. As my pastor spoke about last Sunday, we need to recognise the beauty of the broken. Because the weaker we get, the stronger we become in Christ. As 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

There is also another reason that God does not despise a broken and contrite heart. That is, vulnerability allows God to work in and through us. As I have mentioned before, only when we become vulnerable, both emotionally and spiritually, we can come to the throne of grace empty-handed, and to allow God change us.

Sometimes, I feel like I am quite similar to David. In this psalm, he has committed a sin, and has cried out to God for forgiveness and for a change in him. As James 4:7 puts it, if we submit ourselves, if we surrender all of our lives, the good and the bad, then the enemy will have no chance in attacking us, for we are under the protection and shield of God.

Posted March 3, 2013 by shuoli85 in Uncategorized

Random Thoughts   Leave a comment

So I had a dream last night which was either my brain trying to process what was the conscience saying, or a spiritual one where God was trying to saying something to me. Somehow, I just feel like the second one is more appropriate.

So what had happened was that I was communicating with my mentor and we had a pretty good relationship. Somehow, down the line, I met another girl who was struggling with personal issues, and I guess wanting to help her, I started to forwarding her emails to my mentor. Pretty soon, my communication with my mentor had slowed down.. Finally, out of curiosity, I went to see my mentor. I had found out that she had started mentoring the other girl, and had a close relationship with her. When she did apologise to me, she asked me how I felt about it. To my surprise, I said, you should be mentoring her because she needs your wisdom to help her.

Okay, I already know that I have issues with letting go. Maybe, if I can do that in my dreams, then emotional baggage won’t need to be thrown in reality. As much as I can have a close relationship with someone, I always have to try to tell myself what is the real reason behind the relationship. I feel like I must keep reminding myself that God is my strength, God is my hope, God is my joy and God is my peace. I feel like if I don’t, I go back to being putting my hopes on worldly desires.

People have been telling me I overthink. And I do. I feel like my mind is always racing. It may not be racing like normal people who always keep themselves busy 24/7. But it is racing by thinking about things. All kinds of things. The dangers of my overthink is that I end up imagine the worst-case scenarios and end up frustrated because then I realise that I can’t do anything about it anyway. I sometimes end up having a too high of an expectation for myself that I know I can’t fulfil.

So really, I guess I need to remind myself that God is bigger. God can take care of everything. And that if I first seek His kingdom and righteousness, all the things that I needed will be provided for me.

Posted March 1, 2013 by shuoli85 in Uncategorized

The Beatitudes Revisited   1 comment

“Blessed are the poor in spirit…”

When we often think of the poor, we feel sorry for them because they have very little. Recently, I have had the pleasure of attending the Global Leadership Summit (GLS) and heard Mama Maggie Gorban, who is the founder of St. Stephens Children Ministry, speak. She is an amazing woman who gave up her comfortable life in Cairo to serve among the poorest of people in Egypt. One thing that she said made me stop and relook at this verse. She said that because the poor have nothing, God becomes their everything.

Whether we are poor materially, emotionally or spiritually, that statement still stands because especially when our spirit have nothing left, God becomes the reality that He is the answer. In Luke 6:24, Jesus woes the rich. I’m not sure if that is only talking about materiality or not, but I do know this. If we live a life that is driven by our temptations and filled with the things of the world, we will draw further from God. The scriptures talk about how we cannot belong to the world and God at the same time (1 John 2:15). If we were to indulge the things of the world, our inheritance ends when we are put into the ground at six feet deep. But for those who are in desperate need of a saviour, God will become everything to them, and they will ultimately inherit the treasures of heaven.

I do sometimes wish that I am poor. My sinful nature tells my brain that I don’t want to be poor because I need money and things to live. But if I can just be poor in spirit enough to desperately want God to transform my life, my relationship with Him will be drastically different.

 “Blessed are those who mourn…”

I am reading Phillip Yancey’s “What Good is God?” and the book was relating the events of the Virginia Tech Massacre in 2008. Yancey went to speak at the funeral service and made this statement. “In grief, love and pain converge.” He spoke of how pain was a sign that we can still feel, that we are still alive. But there is something even more beautiful. We grief because we have a relationship with the subject that we are grieving about. It is because we love that we feel the lost and the pain. He illustrates this by an example in John 20:24-29, when Thomas doubted Jesus’s resurrection. His words were “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were…I will not believe it.” (John 20:25) It wasn’t enough to see Jesus in the flesh, but Thomas wanted to run his hand over the scars that had put Jesus on the cross. Only when he was satisfied, Thomas exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28)

There is no promise of a pain-free life. There is no promise of an end to grief and tears. Even God came to earth to feel pain, to feel sorrow and to feel hopelessness. But this beatitude tells us that it is okay to mourn, because they will be comforted. That comfort may not be immediate or even in their life on earth, but one thing is for sure. God can redeem what now seems irredeemable. If we have knowledge and faith that God’s peace transcends all understanding, our tears will be wiped away from our eyes. If we can learn to love, and mourn for those whom we love, our sorrow will be turned into joy in heaven.

“Blessed are the meek…”

Meek is a word which I don’t often use. I somehow find that word very weak and unworthy. But meek can mean several things. It can mean gentleness towards others, obedience towards God, or having humility.

The interesting thing is that at the GLS, the speakers discussed what it means to be humble and how we show view humility, as well as making tough decisions that may not necessarily be viewed as gentleness. But Matthew Henry comments that being meek does not mean that we don’t speak up when there is a need for it, but rather to do it without creating a rift between parties. They are slow to anger and can control their emotions, something which I need to work on. Those who are meek are people who can be in any situation, around anyone and under any circumstance and still not be affected by the external environment. They are blessed because they do not anger easily.

For the meek, they will inherit the earth. Matthew Henry states that the meek has a real tendency to promote their health, wealth, comfort and safety even in this world. Those who obey and follow God, His will and His word will be able to enter the kingdom of God and inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those hunger and thirst for righteousness…”

Righteousness is who God is. The question is, what is righteousness? There are a lot of people in need of help right now in this world. And there are people who want to do the right thing and help those in need. But those people may not necessarily be Christians. Michelle Rhee, an educational activist, radically changed the education system in Washington DC because she believed in a cause and she was hungry for it. She said in an interview at the GLS that we need to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. This, to me, screams hunger and thirst for righteousness.

Of course, this verse was talking about the things that are important to God. We can’t go around promoting something like abortion and homosexuality and call it righteousness. Sure, maybe to the eyes of the world, they are the oppressed and the righteous to the world today, but what are the things that God call righteousness? Because it is those matters that will be blessed by God. “But seek first His kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matt 6:33)

Those who come and fall at the throne of grace, those who seek the presence of the Lord, will be filled because they will know and experience God. Once you experience who God is, you will never look back again. There is a saying that you are what you eat. If you eat too much fatty foods, you will most likely become fatter. If you inhale drugs, you will be intoxicated and possibly go crazy. If you drink too much alcohol, you will get drunk. Similarly, if you hunger and thirst for worldly desires and temptations, you will end up filling empty because those worldly matters cannot satisfy that part of your spirit that only God can fill. But when we hunger and thirst for God, and the things of God, our lives will radically be transformed and we can be filled with things beyond our imagination.

“Blessed are the merciful…”

This verse is one of easier beatitudes to comprehend because as Christians, we should be merciful, because God is merciful and in reflection of Him, we should show mercy onto others. It is so easy for us to understand the verse than to apply it in our own lives. Many people, I’m sure, are willing to have compassion and sympathy on those who doesn’t have as much as us. Many non-Christians even get involved and have compassion on the less fortunate. But I think for many people, it is those who, by the world’s standards, have sinned whom are the hardest to have compassion and mercy on. Even though we all sin, I’m talking about those at the bottom of the food chain: the prostitutes, the criminals and the ones who are “hopeless cases”. While the world may only have compassion on those, as Rhee said in her interview, who were just unlucky to have been born in that situation, we should have mercy on those who may have chosen to live a life in darkness. We should not only supply people with physical and financial resources, but to also have compassion on their souls.

One of the stories I remember hearing about is one about the leader of the Bali Nine people. He became a Christian while in prison. When some people whom I knew went to visit him, he told them that he understands that God had forgiven him but he still accepted the responsibility for his crime. He was ready for his punishment. His only regret is that he didn’t have enough time to evangelise to his family back home. It struck me that whoever led him to Christ was blessed, because there is one more soul saved and the kingdom of God expanded all the more.

“Blessed are the pure in heart…”

I love this verse because it really separates the ones who are pure and those who are hypocritical. This is a problem I see in the Church today. I was sitting at the back of church one Sunday and the congregation was reciting the Lord’s Prayer. It must have been the thousandth time I have recited it because we did it every Sunday after the sermon. I’m not saying that the Prayer is bad because if you read it with your heart, you will have a new revelation every time. But I started to wonder if we really understood what we were reciting. Do we really believe in it or are we just reciting because we know it off by heart and it is required of us? Sometimes, I know which one I am, and it isn’t the former answer.

The truth is, when I first stepped into the church, my intentions were purely selfish, personal and had nothing to do with God. My intention was to meet people and make new friends. i look back now and I can see that for a while, I was going to church to meet and chat to my friends. God was just something I picked up along the way. Only when I knew what I was getting myself into and rededicated my life to God after my baptism, I felt God’s spirit is transforming me.

We shouldn’t need to put up a smiling mask in the presence of God, or God’s people. We shouldn’t even need to make an effort to be compassionate and help those in need. We shouldn’t need to pretend to be wise or smart. We shouldn’t need to force ourselves to obey God’s will. We do these things because we are weak, we are human and we sin. But if we are pure in heart, God will give us the grace and the strength that we need to overcome obstacles and to work to glorify Him. If we truly love God with all our heart, all our strength, all our soul and all our might, then the fruits of the spirit should just be overflowing out of us.

I actually feel like a hypocrite writing this because I know that I struggle with these issues. Sometimes, I just want to pretend that I’m okay because I don’t want to fall behind. I know that I will not get to 100% in the life on earth. But I know that I will definitely try. We fall, but we must get back up, because if we don’t, we lose. I know that if we try our best to be pure in heart, we will see God because we will reflect His image. Not only that, but others will also see God because they will see God in us.

“Blessed are the peacemakers…”

When I read this, I somehow always read “blessed are the peacekeepers” and completely miss the point. I found out that peacemaking and peacekeeping are two very different things, and we cannot substitute peacekeeping for peacemaking.

Peacemaking is active, while peacekeeping is passive. What I always thought of making peace is to just keep out of trouble. For example, if someone told me a bad gossip about someone else, if I keep silent, I would have thought that the gossip will not get out of hand from my mouth. But what does that really do? It still forms a bad opinion about someone and can distort the view of a person entirely. Another example is when one party of a divorce says that they are willing to wait for the other party turn back to them, and yet never did anything to reconcile.

Peacemaking is really stopping trouble before it starts. Sometimes, it means to take that first step and speak up about something that is not right. In that first example, maybe we could instead tell the gossiper not to spread gossip about other people and try to stop them from doing so. Sometimes, it seems that we are not desperate enough to mend broken relationships and take action until it’s too late. Then, we blame other people for it, sometimes even putting God into the spotlight. I look at the UN Peacekeeping Forces and I find it quite ironic that peacekeeping should be made with guns and violence. It seems to me that they are always there after the fighting has already started. I mean, if you want to keep, maintain, or make, peace, wouldn’t you want to take action before the violence started?

Peacemaking actually brings peace and makes amends. Peacemaking allows those who acted in violence a chance to repent and be saved. Not through force or power, but through love and grace.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness…”

This is probably my favourite beatitude and it is not just because I worked at Open Doors for four years. Some Christians don’t believe that persecution happens in today’s world, even though the Bible talks about it in the New Testament. If you follow Jesus, you will be hated by the world because the world hates Jesus. But the reality is, persecution is very much an important issue today and this beatitude is so true because there are many lessons that we can learn from the Persecuted Church.

I am really humbled, and at times think of my unworthiness, by the faith that has been shown through the Persecuted Church. I think too often, the western world tries too hard to change God to fix our problems and put God into a box that we have made for Him. The Persecuted Church does the exact opposite. Like what Dr Henry Cloud said at the GLS, the wise person would adjust themselves according to the light provided while the foolish person would try to adjust light to suit them better. The Persecuted Church does not try to avoid persecution, but to adjust their attitudes so that they will be able to withstand the incoming storms.

The other day, I was asking God why the bus had to be late after I finished work and I started to complain about how my schedule was thrown off. Look at the Persecuted Church, believers in some countries face torture, imprisonment, and even death, for their faith in Christ, for their believe in righteousness, and they stood on solid ground through it without a word of complaint. I am amazed at how Eritrean gospel singer Helen Berhane praised and thanked God through song during her time in prison, when she was thrown into a dark and cold shipping container. My faith in God needs to grow if I want to experience what she had.

For many of us, we can try to make excuses not to go to church. “It’s too far away.” “I have to study for an exam.” “I’m meeting with some friends.” Research had shown that only 10% of those who say that they are Christians go to church on Sundays. How many Bibles do you have at home? How many of them do you actually read? How many times have you read the Bible through? How many verses can you memorise off by heart? I am too ashamed to tell you the answers. Some of us seem to take this for granted because it is always there for us to use. We have the freedom to evangelise and the resources to do so, yet why is it that Christianity is in declining at the moment in the western world?

A friend of mine showed us this website at devotions one morning. It was called “Not a Fan of Christ”, or something along that line. Here was the interesting thing. At first, I thought, this can’t be right. We love Christ, why can’t we be a fan of something that we love? But the twist comes from the word “fan”. I was a fan of all sorts of sports teams and celebrities when I was younger. I use to have all of their CDs, posters and sometimes went to their games. But after a period of time, I got bored with them. There were a few times when my favourite sports team lost, or when the singer had a controversy against them, and I would start to dislike them. Many people are Christians just because they came along for the ride. They use God as an ATM machine and believe that God will give them the things that they want out of life.

But true faith prompts us to become followers of Christ. And to be a follower of Christ, the costs are ridiculously high. It is so much more difficult to do than to say it. To be a follower of Christ, we must take up our cross, walk the narrow road and be prepared to endure suffering and persecution. The Persecuted Church have shown us that even though they don’t have the freedom or the resources to fully preach the gospel, their faith and trust in God allows them to be victorious against pain and suffering. Believers would memorise Bible chapters and books because they don’t have enough Bibles and cannot be found with one. They would gather in the darkest of nights and whisper their hymns so that they can praise God and not be found out. Some of them would travel hours, even days, to meet and fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ.

The Persecuted Church taught me two important words. Unity and forgiveness. Through persecution, churches of different denominations unite together to preserve through suffering and support each other in prayer. I see the finger pointing within the Australian church between denominations and I feel like we need a wake-up call. Someone once told me that Christianity is the only religion that shoots its wounded. When one person is led astray, we start to condemn and judge that person. Only when a tragedy strikes does the church come together as one. The Persecuted Church taught me that forgiveness is possible. Not the small mistakes that people make, but the big things like murder and destruction. The compassion and the grace of the Persecuted Church have always astonished me. “Pray for those who persecute us so that they may come to know Jesus Christ.”

Indeed blessed are the persecuted for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. The Persecuted Church have endured more than what you and I could ever endure in this life, but through their suffering, their faith, their relationship with God, will surely have increased tenfold. Even though there will be losses and pain, the Persecuted Church has grown stronger than ever before.

I’m not trying to put you off anything, or to offend anyone. But when I read the Beatitudes now, there is another perspective that I see now. What seem to be empty promises is really a reality that we should know about and take into account. We can learn from those who are very different to us because they may experience something that we won’t ever experience but can help us on our journeys with God.

Posted December 22, 2012 by shuoli85 in Uncategorized

Birth of Christ – Vulnerability   Leave a comment

Whenever Christmas comes around, there is always a sense of excitement and joy. Although, I think most people are just excited about the giving and receiving of presents. I look at the Christmas cards that are on sale and they depict the joyful nativity scene, where Mary and Joseph are clean and happy, baby Jesus is not crying, and the manger is neat and tidy. But really, when we look at the life of Jesus Christ here on earth, how often of it was clean, how often of it was tidy? There is a real sense of vulnerability in the birth of Christ, one of which goes throughout his life, even ending with his death upon the cross.

I have been really pondering over the word vulnerability. It is about openness and honesty to God. It is about being stripped away of your pride, your stubbornness and your sense of fear. It is about coming before the throne of grace empty-handed. I like to observe people, but recently, when I do, I wonder how much heartache is behind every smile. I wonder how much brokenness is behind every success. I wonder how much fear and guilt are behind every face. This world strives on success, fame and fortune. But behind that, can we really imagine the stories that people experience, the ones that seem shameful to others? The ones that seem too dark to come out? The ones that seem like they can’t get rid of them?

I hate being vulnerable. It leaves me open for heartache, for fear, for a lot of other emotions that can get in the way. But at the end of the day, vulnerability is important for our spiritual growth. I have learnt that like a sugar cane, if we want to be sweet-tasting, the cane must first be crashed. And this is the vulnerability of humanity. If we want God to change within us, we must be able to let God break us from the inside. It is true. It is a difficult journey that sometimes will leave you really broken and helpless. But it is through that process that we are first bashed into clay that can be easily moulded to be then shaped by God to whom He has created us to be. Vulnerability is bittersweet, because it is only by going through the fire that we are refined into gold.

Recently, I have had my vulnerability tested again and again. What God does after that is to allow our hearts to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The interesting thing for me was that once you experience the presence of God, the spirit of the Lord just overflows you. So recently, when I am feeling really down about the journey and the situation I am in, and I walk into church with a heart that is intent on just worshipping God, God just enters my heart without me even trying. When that happens, I am emotionally vulnerable and I break down into tears. It is hard to describe what the tears are for. There is a mixture of gratitude, guilt, and an overwhelming sense of God’s love.

So, knowing Christmas is near, I have been thinking about how vulnerable Christ was when he was born onto this earth. We can compare the birth of Jesus with that of John the Baptist. In Luke 1, we read about the angel foretelling the birth of John, where there are many rejoicing, many attending his birth. There is even a song that Zechariah sings in praises to God for John’s birth. And this is just for a person who is to come before our Lord and to make a pathway for Him. Then, we look at Jesus’ birth. His conception, while nothing short of miraculous, was not welcomed by many at all. Joseph even wanted to divorce her (Matthew 1). Yet, the angel had come to them to share the news that their child was the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords. To think that the salvation of the world had for a while rested on the decisions that Mary and Joseph were to make. If things had turned out differently, what would have happened? I guess God always knew what the outcome would be.

We all watched the Sunday school kids performed the nativity story. I wonder what it was really like in the 1st century, the actual events that happened at the birth of Jesus. Looking at Mary and Joseph travelling to Bethlehem to look for a place to stay and ended up in a manger, where the smell of animals would be overbearing, with no midwives around, probably not even water or towels, I wonder why God had gone into so much trouble to come down to earth for us.

The answer is not a simple one. To think, God the all-powerful creator would come down to earth as a helpless baby that is dependent and vulnerable. Yet, I think like many of the other stories that shines in the life of Jesus, there is a power of restraint that God had shown. While He could have just come down with an army of thousands of angels, God became man, a complete man with all of the human emotions, with all the human desires. He chose the power of love and grace over power and force.

Maybe there is another viewpoint we need to think about. The vulnerability of God the Father, who had to watch his son emerge into the world, most likely bloody and cold. How must He had felt? That would have required courage. It would also have required courage for God to lay down his power and glory, and to emerge a vulnerable human being, to be living amongst the humans that would eventually send him to death on the cross.

That vulnerability that God had showed was the ultimate example of humility. That the glorious God made himself nothing. Unlike the lives of modern royalty, the birth of Jesus was cheap, dirty and probably somewhat hastily. God came down to experience what we experience. God came down to feel what we feel. God came down so that all the more, he is able to be closer to us because he now knows what it is like to be human.

Do not take vulnerability as a sign of weakness. Rather, it is acknowledging your weaknesses and allowing God to work in your lives for His grace is sufficient and His power is made perfect in our weaknesses. (2 Corinthians 12:9) 

Posted December 21, 2012 by shuoli85 in Uncategorized

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