The Contrasts of God
The Contrasts of God
Following God but not knowing His teachings, may I say, is like attending class but falling asleep most of the time. When I say this, I am not thinking to condemn behaviour but more in "that sense of loss" of the great opportunity that has rendered to us. Imagine if the class teacher were God Himself ... ...
As the Bible is God-inspired, it is the centre-piece of our study in understanding and following Him. It is not only a book on the message of eternal salvation, but also His teaching on how we should live a life anew here and now. It is a practical living guide in every sense of the word. Ultimately, it is a living that would lead us to holiness.
God teaches us to see things in a different light. We should look beyond this earth life, look towards the life in eternity which is in heaven, trivialize the material pleasures, and seek the higher wisdom of acquiring the inner peace and joy and the sense of belonging which is so much more precious than the silver and gold.
As we find out, we need to unlearn and re-learn our values and see things in a new perspective. The Bible teaches us that. What might appear as contradictory to the world's general perceptions actually carries so much wisdom and substance. Today, we'll take the opportunity of visiting some of these apparent "contradictions" and meditate on His thoughts for us.
On Rich and Poor
The Bible has made a stark contrast to our perception about rich and poor. It cautions us the importance of "building treasures in heaven" (Matthew 6:19-21) rather than the material possessions on earth.
In Matthew 19:24, Jesus said that it would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. The worldly treasures and possessions could be such a big distraction and stumbling block for many.
On Weak and Strong
The Apostle Paul, in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, had delivered a very powerful and heart-felt testimony. His conversion was dramatic to say the least. His joy now rested on seeing himself walking a life with God, submitting to God, and letting God's purpose to work on him, in him and through him. Weakness and strength is no longer personal and takes a much grandeur perspective.
"Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
On Life and Death
The Bible tells us to be mindful of life and death in the spiritual sense, which is over and above the physical life and death. As people often say, our time on earth is like a "dash" comparing to the "line" of eternity which we would end up either in heaven or in hell. Unless we put to death our sinful past and follow God, we would not have the eternal life in heaven.
On First and Last
The highest regard to humility and the concern to place others' interests before one's own couldn't be more clearer. (See Mark 9:35-37)
In the world, we always compete for being the first and the greatest. However, in Matthew 18:1-4, we learn from Jesus that in the kingdom of heaven, there is no place for self glorification.
On Wise and Foolish
The Bible cautions us that self-seeking and self-importance could be our stumbling block in finding the right direction. A cup too full would leave no room for anything else.
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." (Proverb 9:10) "For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength." (1 Corinthians 1:25)
Needless to say, humility should be our very starting point.
On Giving and Receiving
The Bible is never short of examples of grace, and giving willingly, cheerfully, and with honest intent, for the benefit of the others. We are encouraged to do these things because of the love of God. It is a way of our thanksgiving, and glorifying His grace in us too. With faith, we know that God will keep us abound in all good work. (2 Corinthians 9:6-15)
On Serve and Be Served
Once again, the Bible reminds us that in the eyes of God, he who is willingly to serve for the interests of the others always ranks higher than the one being served.
"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45)
On Circumcised and Not Circumcised
We need to understand what matters between the form and substance, between the inward change and the outward and physical. Here, Apostle Paul had made it clear for us. He said, "Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God's commands is what counts." (1 Corinthians 7:19) What counts is faith in Jesus Christ. What counts is a life reborn -- a new creation. (Galatians 6:15)
Likewise, the Lord takes delight in obedience than burnt offerings and sacrifices. (1 Samuel 15:22)
On The Law and Not the Law
This follows the same notion as on the subject of circumcision above.
The important message here is that "a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ." (Galatians 2:16) We receive the saving grace from God when we submit to Him in faith, and live a life in Christ as a living sacrifice.
On another dimension, we understand that knowledge of the scripture alone is futile if we are not living it. Jesus condemned the Pharisees and the teachers of the law of Moses for being hypocritical -- righteous on the outside but wickedness within. These people were nothing but show-offs. Their love for God and the scripture were superficial. (Matthew 23)
On Clean and Unclean
In Mark 7:14-23, the teaching of Jesus cautions us that spiritually, "what comes out of a man is what makes him unclean. For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality ....." On the other hand, "nothing outside a man can make him "unclean" by going into him." " For it doesn't go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body." We should therefore be mindful of our tongue.
In terms of the food we choose to take (for one reason or another), Apostle Paul in his letter in 1 Corinthians 8 brings out an important message in that "food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do." "Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak." "It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall." (Romans 14:21)
On Of This World and Not Of This World
The Bible describes "this world" as a place of spiritual darkness. Apostle Paul reminded us not to conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of our minds. (Roman 12:2). When we follow Jesus, we come out of the darkness and into His wonderful light. We are like living stones built into a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, a holy nation, and a people belonging to God. (1 Peter 2:4-12) Our citizenship is in heaven. (Philippians 3:20)
God's grace is sufficient for us. His Word (the Bible) has revealed enough for us to understand and follow. As He said in Isaiah 55:9,"As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."
We can only marvel at the wisdom of the Lord. In the end, all will know that faith is the victory that overcomes the world.
May our God, the true and the living God, equip us with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Live Life, Junius.