Wednesday, August 20, 2014

"Ye Men of Little Faith"

Jesus rebuked his followers several times: "Ye men of little faith!" Should not the Father who feeds the birds in the air and clothes the grass in the field, feeds us his beloved children? Why are then many Christians behaving like the pagans, always asking what they are going to eat, what they are going to drink or cloth themselves or worry about their retirement savings? (Matt 6:33). Yesterday I went past a woman holding a child selling tissues on the streets. Normally I would walk past without a thought but this time my heart was stirred to do a good deed - I gave her $10.00 and did not take any tissues. She said, "Terimakasih" and there was good enough for me. As I was hurrying away, my heart continued to stir and heard the Lord spoke, "If you had concern for that child and you thought your $10.00 could help her, who you think I am? Am not I able to provide for you?" I moved quickly through the crowds and the voice subsided. It's rare kind of experience that many religious scholars are slow to talk about. I was encouraged by a book I am currently reading by William James, a Harvard Professor, medical doctor and psychologist, written more than one century ago, The Varieties of Religious Experience (Oxford Classics, 2012). In it, Prof James recounted a story given by George Fox, the founder of Quakers movement of how Fox travelled through Lichfield and felt the word of the Lord came to him and he had to cry out against Lichfield right in the midst of the market-place. It was only later that George Fox understood why he thought the Lord wanted him to cry out against the town because many centuries ago, 1,000 or so Christians were martyred there. How can you explain what George Fox experienced? Was his religious experience valid, contestable or simply illusory? Even now as I always try to exercise caution since I am a trained Biblicist, having spent the best part of 20 years studying the Bible in a serious manner. But the Lord granted me the ability to see visions like Acts 2; not something I imagine or fantasize about but as the Lord wills, it comes at times not expected or asked for. I watched the news about a former diplomat who served Singapore for more than 40 years and published the book, The Accidental Diplomat and the newscaster summarized this former diplomat's life with this line, "all the significant events of my life were not planned". I can also say that all the significant events of my life were not planned. I did not plan to become a Christian. Christ came to reveal himself to me. I did not plan to join an indigenous church and now I have been a member for a quarter of a century. I did not plan to do a PhD but it was granted to me. I did not plan to become pastor but suddenly my home-church called me. I did not plan to lecture in TTC but suddenly I was offered the position and within days everything was settled. I cannot plan and think my plan will go according to plan, because many are the plans of man but the Lord's purpose will prevail.

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