I’ve been going to church pretty much every week ever since I was a baby. Naturally, attending Sabbath services was and still is a very regular part of my life. Sometimes I find it odd when people ask me what my plans are for the weekend, because for me, 50% of it is always the same thing. “Well on Saturday I’ll be at church most of the day, as per yooj, and on Sunday…I’m not really sure yet.”
Whenever something becomes routine and repetitive, it can start to feel ritualistic, and at times even meaningless. Church is no exception. I, and perhaps many others, often feel that I go to church simply because it’s just what I do, and I’ve always been taught that I should. Even when it feels like a drag, I still go almost purely out of obligation stemming from either myself, or from responsibilities I have at church.
When this happens, it’s natural (and good) for us to re-evaluate Continue reading
In 2009, I made the biggest move of my life to date from the east coast to the west coast. Having grown up in the east coast, this meant leaving friends and family with whom I had developed relationships for many years. Before the actual move, I wanted to spend one last meal with my closest friends so I could say my proper farewells and formally prepare myself for the transition.
This is a pretty typical human experience. When we are leaving a place that we have stayed in for some time, a place with its associated memories, experiences, and friendships, would we not want to spend one final moment with those we treasure in that place? Would we not desire the company of those we love and value most?
Jesus did. Continue reading
At my local church, there is a very cute toddler. His dad calls him his second shadow because the toddler follows him wherever he goes, often clinging onto his leg. It’s as if as long as the toddler clings onto his dad’s leg, he feels safe and secure.
One Sabbath, I was standing in line for lunch talking with a brother, when all of a sudden this brother looked down in surprise. The toddler was clinging onto his leg, thinking it was his dad’s. The brother became uncomfortable and tried to communicate to the toddler that he wasn’t who he thought he was, but the toddler continued to cling onto his leg cluelessly and blindly, even speaking baby talk as if he was speaking to his dad. It wasn’t until his grandma directed his attention upward towards the brother’s face did he realize he was clinging onto someone else’s leg. Upon realizing this, he let go and went in search of his real dad.
This occurrence reminded me of a sermon about material blessings. Continue reading
Gideon had just received assurance of God’s abidance via the wet and dry fleece. He already had an army gathered together to confront the army of Midian. The Midianites were camped just below them in the valley. At this crucial moment of confidence and poise, God said, “Wait! You have too many people with you.”
Just as Gideon requested two signs of confirmation from God, God made two requests of Gideon. The first test was the obvious one – Gideon said that whoever was afraid could back out at the last minute and go home. 22,000 left, and 10,000 remained. Less than one-third of the people had the courage to stay and fight.
But again, God said there were too many. He wanted to test them again.
Bring them down to the water, and I will test them for you there.
The people were divided according to how they drank water; those who knelt down to drink vs. those who cupped water in their hands and brought it to their mouths. The two groups were immensely uneven – 9,700 knelt down to drink, whereas the remaining 300 brought their hands to their mouths. God said, “By the three hundred men who lapped I will save you, and deliver the Midianites into your hand. Let all the other people go, every man to his place.” From 32,000 willing and able volunteers, only 300 were chosen.
The second test, the test at the water, is interesting.
Jesus and the disciples had just crossed the stormy sea of Galilee, arriving at the land of Gennesaret (or Gergesenes, or Gadarenes). The moment He embarked He encountered a man possessed by many demons (a “Legion” of them). After He cast them out, the people in that area made Him leave, and so He did (Mt 8:28-34; Mk 5:1-20; Lk 8:26-39).
In another incident, Jesus trekked all the way to the region of Tyre and Sidon, and He did not want anyone to know about it. Inevitably, word got around and He was found by a Syro-Phoenician woman, who begged Jesus to cast out the demon from her daughter. She was not discouraged by Jesus’ insult and her humility was rewarded. The Bible does not say whether Jesus did anything else in that region and He seemingly departed and returned to the the region of Decapolis (around where He encountered Legion), where He healed many (Mt 15:21-28; Mk 7:24-30).
In both of these cases, Jesus went to predominantly Gentile regions for a short period of time, healed a single person, and left. There may be multiple reasons for this with various interpretations, but I think one of them is He went specifically for these single individuals. Although neither the demon-possessed man nor the Canaanite woman were Jewish, He sought them out, knowing not only how much they needed Him, but how much they hoped to find Him. Sure, the journeys may have been troublesome, far, and incredibly roundabout, but Jesus loves every man.
A single precious soul is worth it.