Wednesday, December 4, 2013

This World is not My Home

On the first night of the Easter Conference 2009, the speaker Rev. Dr Albert Ting asked his audience “does God still manifest his glory today and how is it manifested in your daily life?” As I was reflecting on his challenge, I cannot help but think that for God’s glory to be manifested in our lives, the first step is to examine the values we live for.

I once read an article that explained how the values the early Christians lived as a people were so different from the culture they were in.

1. They refused bloodthirsty entertainment.  They wouldn’t go to gladiatorial events because they believed it defiled humans who were created in the image of God.  This made them appear to be anti-social.

2. They empowered women by showing their value and dignity in places of learning and service which had previously been exclusively for men.  Christians held women in high regard and treasured them rather than viewing them as just a step above expendable children and servants.  

3. They were against sex outside of marriage.  This was considered odd and against the prevailing Roman culture which viewed sex as a fleshly desire similar to eating or sleeping.

4. They were exceptionally generous with their resources.  They had no social classes and shared what they had with one another and welcomed others with a hospitality that was not seen in Roman society. 

5. They were radically for the poor.  In a time when the poor and downtrodden were viewed as getting what they deserved, the early Christians were aggressively committed to loving and serving the marginalized.

The early Christians adopted these values because they considered themselves set apart by God.  Today, these values are seen as general values adopted even by non-Christians.  This is how we manifest God’s glory as Christians, influencing the culture and not being influenced by it.

Imagine if someone were to follow us around for a week or so.  Would they see a distinct difference in the quality of our life, or would it look pretty much like everybody else’s life?

1. When they listened in on your conversations in the office or at lunch or in the gymnasium, would they hear gossip, backstabbing, crude or foul language or dirty jokes?

2. What if they sat beside us as we were alone in our homes and rooms?  Will they see us going for those Internet and TV shows that we forbid our own children to go for?

3. If they followed us around as we did our daily work, would they find us wasting company time or money or losing our temper when things go wrong?  Will they see us humiliating people or cutting corners on jobs when no one is looking?

4. If they were to sit at the dinner table in your home, would they be surprised at how insensitive or inattentive we were to our children?

If non-Christians see us, do they see us as a separate people with separate values? Or do they see us as people exactly like them with the exception that we pepper our talk with ‘Praise the Lord' and we go to church on Sundays.  They should see a distinct difference in the values that we live by, the way we walk in this journey of life to our eternal home.

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