| Friday, April 11, 2003
|The April issue of Radical Radiance is already up. Just went through it a while ago. I'm really glad that I'm back in His arms once again. I can't believe I lived through all that time without God in my life. I just wish I can really make people realize to let God into their lives once again so they can see for themselves how good it is to have God in their lives. I'd like to share this article that Jamee Ligan wrote for her column in Rad.
When Christian Life Gets To Be Boring
What's up with the title? We've reduced Christianity to a label-driven lifestyle. People think that being "Christian" is the same way that some people are punks, skaters, Goths, yuppies, and so forth. Jesus Freak is another label that I wouldn't mind getting, although I believe that labels like these are getting to the point where they do more harm than good. The reason why I think all these labels (Christian, Jesus Freak, whatever) are oppressive is that because it segregates people from Christian to non-Christian to the point where it gets to be elitist and snobbish. I get into lots of situations when people who wouldn't normally approach me if I so much as breathe on them would come up to me after praying or whatever and ask "Christian ka ba?" and be all friendly and stuff after finding out that I am. Please don't get me wrong. It's not because of being called "Christian"; I find great honor in bearing the name of Christ. What really gets to me is that the word "Christian" has been turned into pop culture and cheapened into lifestyle; that it has turned into a label that connotes non-smoking, non-drinking, prudish Jesus Freaks who are not supposed to be "worldly" (yet another buzzword within Christian circles) and who are proud of it, albeit casting haughty eyes at those who are "weak and worldly".
On the other hand, there are those who would consider themselves to be "radical" Christians just because they get the best of both worlds. You hear it a lot, the battle cry is the same: "God is a FUN God!" or "Being a Christian is cool!" Sure it is! I won't dispute that. Even the tagline of this website boasts, "Because Christian life was never meant to be boring." The danger in flippantly treating the Christian life as a fun fad that fades faster than the Macarena, Asereje, and the Tamagochi or the clothes that I throw away after wearing it once is that it lacks commitment or it could be grounded on a passing whim. I could easily do away with it, the same way I did away with my vain ambition to be a zen master by training in Aikido, a musician, a volleyball player (honestly, I tried!), Efren Bata Reyes' female alter ego, an artist, a chemist, a poet (didn't work for me), and stuff like that. It would fade just as fast when heavy metal worship stops being cool.
I was supposed to write about PLEASURE, like where do we draw the line between being rigid, being lax, to simply having fun for this month. Well here's my take: God is the Real Thing, pleasure to the extreme. The world offers cheap, self-serving substitutes like booze, babes, bucks, and clout that we think could make us happy as they take us on a ride, give us a high, but crash and burn in the end along with our vanity.
But isn't the idea that God is the ultimate pleasure too abstract and too far out? Isn't it too… out there? What if I don't believe in God? What if I DO believe in God, but I don't find pleasure in reading the Bible, much more in praying or going to church? What is it to make of me then?
When I first started out, I didn't get much pleasure out of reading the Bible, praying, or fasting and stuff like that. Looking back, it was in loving relationships, warm stories, deep friendships, and selfless acts of giving that blessed my life with meaning caused me to believe in a higher Being who gave all these things for our pleasure. It was in love and in giving that caused me to seek and drew me into a deeper relationship with God, taught me about faith and fidelity and opened my heart to the Giver of all pleasure who gives of Himself as well.
With God, there are no boundaries or limits to what we can do. We don't have to ask, "Hey, where do we draw the line, God?" It's a matter of heart, and if you're heart's seeking, craving, and hankering for God alone, not for good relationships, cool ministries, or the "cool Christian" label, you get everything, for He is enough to fill your soul. How come? It's not in the kicks, or what we can get from God, but it's from knowing Who He Is and His Person. He is a Giver by nature, but if you seek Him for his gifts alone, you are only fooling yourself into thinking you can manipulate God. The pleasure is in Him, in loving Him based on a commitment to do so that would not waver by circumstance. I'm standing on my love for God more adamant and true, and it's never been more liberating.
I'm nearing the end of a month-long media fast as I write this. A month ago, I committed to abstain from watching TV, reading books, flipping through magazines, texting, fooling around with my PS2, surfing the net, even talking on the phone unless it's really important or if it's any of the people I've committed to pray for, you know, fun lifestyle stuff. I haven't so much as read the news in a month, and it was hard and painful at first, but it pried my heart away from the clutches of this world and drew me closer to Him. As the days progressed, I began to know Him for Who He Is and love Him through His Word. I had a glimpse of His Being, and albeit insatiable, His love satisfies.
Just about the same time, my application to Japan was denied, my groupmates and I were supposed to win in a quiz contest if it not for some unjust measures taken by the game master to let the other team win to save face. I got my heart broken and a discipline record to boot, denying my chances of ever getting another scholarship, along with the damning realization that I have a very lousy resume upon taking up ORIENT3 and stuff like that. It was devastating enough to for me to feel like I don't add up to much, and I won't accomplish anything, but in one of the worship experiences I had this past month, the Lord showed me that He is my portion and my delight in this world through a song that goes like this:
Father I will not worry about tomorrow or all of its questions
Father I will just trust you and I will be waiting for treasures in heaven
My heart is with you for there my treasure lies
My eyes are on you, for you are my delight
Though I may not wear the garments of princes
You are my portion; you are my portion
For you clothe me in your righteousness
You are my portion; you are my portion
For you feed me from the abundance of your hand
You are my portion; you are my portion *
Imagine. God as your inheritance and your part in this world, your ultimate delight. You don't need worldly acclaim, big bucks or fame. You have God to fill your lack with living water. This doesn't come cheap, though. You have to commit to seek Him, seize Him, commit to know Him through reading, meditating, memorizing His Word, spend time in prayer and in worship, but it is SO worth it. It has to be grounded in fidelity to love and faith in God, and not on passing whims. Being a Christian in the true sense of the word is not a label; it's an attitude. It's not a fad; it's a heart thing. It means having a heart that seeks for God alone and yearns to please Him and committing to it like crazy. It gets harder when you're in the ministry. Sometimes this kind of bliss may mean your life shining less brightly in this world (pay cut, zero job security, no more facials, foot spas and hair treatments), but when it's Him, it's so everything. You have a choice: Choose to please yourself with the world's pleasures; and you're setting yourself up for pain. Choose to please God and enjoy his delight, you get a life, and you will have it to the full.
* "You are My Portion" by Darrel Evans
|posted by Jax @ 11:24:00 PM