We are living, in the words of Charles Dickens, “the best of times and the worst of times.” Greg Laurie noted that despite all the technological advances we’ve made in recent years, we have regressed morally. In many ways, we are living in spiritual darkness. Lois Tverberg and Bruce Okkema in their book, “Listening to the Language of the Bible,” paints a graphic picture of the consequences of our “modern culture that emphasizes our individuality and independence to the point of amazing self-centredness":
“Pornography feeds the desire to use others’ bodies for our own pleasure; materialism that uses underpaid foreign labour encourages us to enjoy luxury while others work hard for little pay; and violence in the media enables us to watch the suffering of others for entertainment, desensitizing us to others’ pain.”
We are in danger of living for our recreation instead of living as God’s re-creations to shine as stars in our dark world. We need to take great heed of the following warning of St. Paul to the Ephesian church:
“Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” (Ephesian 5:15-17)
The good news of Easter is that Christ died and rose from the dead to empower us to live as a child of God who knows and is able to do the will of God. I was encouraged by the following thought in yesterday's (14th April 2012) Upper Room devotion by Dan Nelson:
“All of us come into the world with promise, imprinted with God’s desire that we live fully. No matter what we do that can ruin our lives or how much abuse others inflict on us, that child still lives somewhere deep inside us. God can re-create any of us from within, restoring us and giving us new life. And that restoration can begin on any day we offer ourselves to God.”
Today is the second Sunday of Easter. Rev. Lim Kim Hock drew attention to three important truths of the resurrection power of Christ in his sermon at Queenstown Lutheran Church. Firstly, it was after the resurrection of Jesus Christ that the believers were able to have unity of heart and mind in Christ. Rev Lim shared some thoughts from the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer in the book, Life Together. The following insights of Bonhoeffer encouraged me and gave me a deeper understanding of true Christian community:
“He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.”
“If we do not give thanks daily for the Christian fellowship in which we have been placed, even where there is no great experience, no discoverable riches, but much weakness, small faith and difficulty; if on the contrary, we only keep complaining to God that everything is so paltry…..then we hinder God from letting our fellowship grow.”
Rev. Lim reminded us that true Christian community is not our dream of community but the divine reality of the life of the Risen Christ among us. We will experience the shock of disillusionment when we love our dream of community instead of seeking God's will to be the Body of Christ. We will be tempted to become the “accuser of our brethren” instead of being thankful participants of the community that God has placed us in.
Secondly, we need to experience the power of Jesus’ name. In Acts 3:6, we read of how Peter and John healed the cripple in Jesus’ name. Peter told the cripple:
“Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”
Our modern churches are blessed with so much ‘silver and gold’ as well as doctors that we have lost the ministry of health and healing in Jesus’ name. Imagine the impact our churches will make on our society if they are centers of health and healing. We need to see our churches as hospitals for sinners and be careful that we do not turn them into museums for saints.
Thirdly, we are in dire need for the grace in community manifested by the spirit of caring and sharing which we read in Acts 4:32-34:
“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them.”
Our modern world is struggling with the increasing gap between the rich and the poor. God has created a world of abundance but it is human greed that is the root cause of much human suffering. The love of money leads only to untold suffering. Furthermore, it is foolish to put one’s trust in material wealth. It has been reported that the 20 richest men in the world lost S$13.4 billion in the past week when the stock market fell. A devotional in the Life Application Study Bible gives us the following wise advice:
“If you work hard at getting what you want you might eventually get a “pleasurable” life, but in the end you will find it hollow and empty. Are you willing to make the pursuit of God more important than the selfish pursuit of pleasure? Follow Jesus, and you will know what it means to live abundantly life now and to have eternal life as well.”
John Wesley once said, “Give me a hundred men who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I do not care if they be clergymen or laymen. Such men alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on earth.”
Let us encourage one another to fear nothing but sin and to desire nothing but God. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to descend upon our hearts and fill them with one holy passion. May our hearts be an altar to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice so that we may be filled with the flame of God's love and live as God's Re-creations.
One holy passion filling all my frame;
The kindling of the heaven descended Dove
My heart an altar, and thy love the flame.”