Sunday, 30 December 2012

New Year's Resolution

Most of us have New Year’s resolutions, one or more plans of what we have to do (or not do) in the coming year. I personally have to develop some good habits and a drop a bunch of bad ones. 

Here is an interesting passage from the Bible that is relevant to the theme:

For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Cor 2:2)

 Verse 16 of the same chapter reads:

Who has known the mind of the Lord    so as to instruct him?”

We believe that no one knows the mind of God. We also believe that He is running the world. But if He is in charge, why is this world such a mess?

I am sure none of us had a perfect year. But here is one way we can reconcile the rule of God with the evil in this world and all that has gone wrong in our lives:

23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1)

By knowing Christ and his cross, we come to know the wisdom of God. In one way, the cross explains why God is “delaying” His judgment on evil, even while innocents suffer every day. God plans to save people through the death of Jesus Christ, and until that happens, He is not going to execute the final judgment.

There is nothing more evil than men killing God’s beloved, Jesus Christ, but out of that evil comes forth the universal plan of salvation, which gives us hope in the face of adversity.  So until all citizens of the kingdom are not saved, the world is going to stay as it is.

But then, how will those people come to know about the Gospel? By our preaching, And what is exactly that we have to preach? Christ, and the cross. See how it all fits together!

The cross may be a stumbling block for the world, but it reveals the wisdom of God and shows us how all things in the world, good or bad, fit together in the grand scheme of salvation.

So, here is a good new’s year resolution for all of us. Happy New Year!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Nothing Changes on Christmas Day

Perhaps it was 5 years ago that I first tried my hand at writing. It was actively involved with a Christian student’s organization and they published a magazine at Christmas. I volunteered to contribute a short article with a message related to the Advent.

Back then, even as a toddler in faith, I could look beyond the festivities of the season and think about issues that really bothered me, and I wrote about something about the Christmas story which is actually sad.

Now when I look at reputed speakers talk about the ugliness of Christmas, I find myself among many people whose hearts break at Christmas for more than one reason. Do we, as we skim through the nativity accounts of the New Testament, understand the serious messages inherent in the text?

One such example which I wrote about revolved around the visit of the Magi to Herod's palace in Matthew 2.

The Messiah of the Jews is born. Here are some Jews of both religious and secular standing who know very well what the scriptures say, yet they refuse to even go to His birthplace. On the contrary, they plan to kill the one who came to save them.

On the other hand, some non-believers, or “pagans” traveled from a land far away to come and worship Jesus. Not only did they face the suffering and toil of travel by land, they also put their lives at risk when they came to Jesus.

Jump forward 2000 years, has anything changed? Leave aside the Jewish people. What about us Christians? All we do is recite, prophecies during the Advent season year after year, but our hearts are locked in Herod’s palace, far away from the humble abode of Christ.

I don’t know when this page was last updated, but the Wikipedia entry on Christian demographics clearly states:

This masks a major shift in the demographics of Christianity; large increases in the developing world (around 23,000 per day) have been accompanied by substantial declines in the developed world, mainly in Europe and North America (around 7,600 per day)

The so-called Christian nations have all turned into Herod’s group of priests, holding Bibles in their hands yet refusing to acknowledge the true King. 

On the other hand, the Third World has become the stable in Bethlehem, not only marked by immense povert, but also dangling under the sword of death.

Yes, people in this part of the world risk their lives when they come to visit the baby born on Christmas, and we continue to sit on pews and heartlessly recite Scripture. Hence I say, nothing changes on Christmas day..