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Archive for October, 2006

Itaas mo!There is a curious belief among Christians on the notion of culture and the sense of right and wrong. As an elder of my church once mentioned in an online discussion, there is no set-on-stone standard on whether something is acceptable or not – for an Irish Christian, it may be acceptable to drink beer, but for others, it’s not. So he said that to be safe, we should follow the verse that puts forward love (as Ailene wrote here) instead of our own convenience. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.” (1 Co 8:13)

While the verse gives us a way to live without causing others to stumble, the very idea that culture determines what should be acceptable and what is not just sits… wrong with me. While this undoubtedly happens – our way of thinking is largely determined by the society we live in, after all – it reminds me of a sentiment I always hear from Christians today: that it was ok to drink wine back in Jesus’ time, but it is no longer ok now. Two thousand years of history has somehow ‘corrected’ something that Jesus let pass – and actually participated in.

Of course, culture played a part on what is acceptable and what is not – even Jesus said that God allowed the Israelites divorce back in Moses’ time because their hearts were still hard back then (Mat 19:8). However, I have trouble accepting that God’s sense of right and wrong is swayed by mortal trends. He is beyond us, after all.

God didn’t seem to be influenced by what the rest of the world is doing – when He gave Moses the Levitical law, the provisions He made for women, for orphans, for the widowed and for slaves were all revolutionary back then – the Jews treatment on the abovementioned groups were far more sophisticated compared to their neighboring nations precisely because that is what God has commanded. Even Jesus’ treatment on women was revolutionary – some would even say scandalous. He gave them respect, attention and gentleness that no society at that time bestowed on women.

This tells me that my Lord, as the God that He is, is the one leading and dictating what is right and what is wrong – not just gently nudging what society or culture can accept. If it was ok for Him back then to drink wine, then why should it be different now? My God is the immutable God, after all.

The trouble lies, I think, not with our God changing His mind, but in our propensity to twist what is perfectly acceptable to God and make it detestable. This is the very character of sin – something pleasurable to God horrendously perverted. Eating becomes gluttony. Drinking becomes getting drunk. Sex becomes sex before marriage. Gentleness becomes cowardice. Strength becomes violence. Firmness becomes cruelty. The desire to do what is right becomes legalism.

In our fear of perverting what God has given us, or (perhaps more honestly,) in our effort to look like we’re not sinning, we run away from the wholesome and delightful pleasures that God purposely made to delight His children.

Our God created every pleasure in this world. Let me repeat that because it’s so important – OUR GOD CREATED EVERY PLEASURE IN THIS WORLD. The devil is the one who introduced perversions in that pleasure to make it harmful and detestable. Our God is not a miser – He is not a bitter old man in the sky looking out to smite any Christian who has any fun. He made all the pleasures in this Earth precisely because He wants to give joy to His children.

I think this is a duty that we Christians always neglect – that we represent our God in this fallen world. Widespread is the belief that Christians are tame, stiff people who have no fun at all. That is why they think of us as corny or flaccid – the world rarely sees a joyous Christian. Most people would want us as neighbors but not as someone they would hang out with.

That is why I laugh whenever I see young men shouting and jumping around while praising God in FullCup – even if I personally find such energetic displays perhaps a tad too much. For why should the devil have all the fun with Rock and Roll? I want to run screaming in the streets and bug every single person I see to look at those boys – that’s the joy brought by my God! Wouldn’t you want something like that in your life?

While it is also true that we should be mindful if we’re making our fellow believers stumble, I ache for the time when we are all mature enough in the faith to show the world that Christians aren’t afraid — that NOTHING in this world can overwhelm us, whether it is troubles or pleasures. I long for the time when we approach pleasures not with trepidation or hypocritical disgust, but with gratitude, humility, and restraint: gratitude to our God for giving pleasure to this world; humility in recognizing that we don’t deserve any of it; and restraint by only partaking of these pleasures the way that God intended.

So… you think we can holler “bottoms up!” soon for our God? Ü

 

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