Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A dear bro told me that when we feel insecure, we should receive assurance from God, and not from people. I've heard it a lot of times before, and agreed with it...

But recently I've been thinking. And questioning that assumption. It seems wrongly dichotomized...

Because, if we are the church of God... if we are the Body of Christ... if Jesus himself said where two or three gather in His name, there He is with them... if the Lord's Prayer says, "Our Father who is in heaven..."... if the Scripture says encourage the timid... strengthen the weak... help carry one another's burdens... rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn... and if the Lord in His sorrow asked his closest disciples, "I am weary with sorrow... Stay with me and keep watch..."

I think God likes to show His assurance through people. In fact, He would rather work through people than work directly. Why? Well, somehow God wants to do it that way... and He takes pleasure in doing that! (Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that He said that we, male and female, are made in His image.) But if nobody's around / not willing... then He will roll up His sleeves and step in. Or He can do both, actually.

I've been questioning this assumption about this "rugged individualism"... the idea of the Übermensch kind of Christian... but is that the kind of Christian Jesus is looking for? What, really, is Jesus' idea of strong, mature disciples?

And as I think through the Scriptures... it seems a lot to me that God is looking for people who will love one another as He has loved us. To be mature is to carry what you yourself are supposed to be responsible for, but for those who are weaker... to support and carry their burdens in love.

You know, sometimes we hear this quote: "Oh, he/she's not doing well." It leaves a dry, sour taste in my mouth when I hear that... I've been thinking...

Ah. A bro much wiser than me wrote these words down. So beautiful, I want to share them with you too.
"Is solutionistic approach to pastoral challenges ( note i chose not even to use the word problem) the best ?

Seeing pastoral challenges as a problem reflects our mindset of how we see people. PROBLEM.
But hey..people at different life stations faces different challenges. Use of words like "So and so not doing well,...." has been used sweepingly and potentially can become a stigma.

Solutionistic approach blinds us to the needs and deep crying concerns of people.

An imminent danger of such a approach is quick to dispense solution without truly questioning the unknown assumption and understand and concerning that the recipients so very desire. Or evening overlooking the affirmation that could very much encourage the person. At times, people just need affirmation not solutions. People just need to know that you CARE, appreciate verbally. [I love this brother!!!]

Lack of the above never fails to discourage.

In fellowship, we are called to encourage each other, spur each other on.

CG planning=planning to love, affirm, appreciate and encourage. Through these,creating an conductive environment for people to be more Christ like. Not problem solving.
But I'm not saying that we shouldn't go to God... ah... now I know. We need to help one another go towards Jesus. The NT Greek word for 'encourage' is 'parakaleo' which literally means "to call alongside." And that means that encouragement is not like the army sergeant who says, "You see that tree? Go there, touch it, and come back." Neither is it carrying the person from point A to B... but it means being alongside with the person. Like how, when I was struggling on the track to run, my friend would come up along me and run together with me, encouraging me to keep running on.

We are to help one another find strength in God. But that can't be done merely by telling them to go read their Bibles and pray. I've read about a Christian who did these things faithfully for one whole year, and then was still so depressed that he was about to shoot himself... when God sent along an unbeliever to minister to him by just being there for him... the Christian was astonished, but yes, God really saved his life through the unbeliever. =)

I think it's about being Christ to the brother in need. We represent Christ and carry His name (literally, as we're called Christians). And He did say that whatever the church binds on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever it looses on earth, will be loosed in heaven. Philip Yancey commented that this was a radical inversion of the ancient pagans' view of the gods influencing the earth below. As above, so below. But Jesus portrayed the kingdom of God as so radical, that what we do on earth has an impact in heaven. That we will actually judge angels in heaven. As below, so above. Shocking, right? But this is precisely the kind of authority the church has been given.

And that is precisely the kind of risk that God chose to take with the church.

Edited to add:
Tks WZ for helping me think it through... while friendship is a blessing... it's not to be an idol. But neither is it helpful to dichotomize it excessively...

Different channels from the same River. God can choose to use one channel, or another, or both... actually, this isn't a very complete analogy lah. Maybe it's like, we normally get our water from taps, and it's been so ordained...

But there are times when the taps, for some reason, don't work. Then pick up your bucket, ye thirsty fellow, and go to the springs...

And you can do both. Nothing like the coolness and taste of a fresh spring, nothing like the pleasure of water so clean and convenient from a good tap.

The key thing, I am reminded again, is to learn to see God in all these different things... to open our eyes to His love expressed in so many different ways. "How do You love me? Let me count the ways."

God loves us... in more ways than we can ever imagine. Ah. Love Beyond Reason, by John Ortberg. =)

Reminds me of the time when I was down one day, and I walked past a hibiscus bush. And I saw such a beautiful red hibiscus flower in full bloom. Never seen such a lovely flower. And suddenly, I realised that God was whispering to me through that flower that He made this hibiscus flower, just for me to see. =) "Beauty that made / this heart adore You..."

Yup, God spoke to me from a blooming bush. =)

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