Love is the only way

What do his death and resurrection mean to you?

This year, I realize that his death and resurrection means love is the only way.

 

This world, I grew tired of it. From time to time, I saw more evil, more injustice, desperation everywhere. I tried so hard to avoid the topics and think that everything will be good, but you know what, those “bad” things still are inevitable. Hearing YA’s preach, I now realize, those “bad” things, they are not just the social problems, or politics, or culture. They are also spiritual problems. They exists because our human nature build up walls which make us hard, or even unable to love.

This year, I stumble upon Jason Mraz’s new song Love is Still The Answer. I watched Paul, the Apostle of Christ, twice. I heard Good Friday sermon by YA, and what I got is… love is the only way.

Love that suffers long, love that is kind, that does not envy, that is not proud. Love that does not dishonor, that does not seek for itself. Love that is not easily angered. Love that rejoices in truth. Love that never delights in evil. Love that protects, trusts, hopes, endures all things. That kind of love. – Paul in Paul, the Apostle of Christ

Christ had given us that love. Long ago. When he gave his life and rose from death, he broke down the walls. The wall of sin, hatred, anger, vengeance, separation. He broke down the walls for us. He did that out of love, to the point of death.

 

Love is so much deeper than I first thought. That kind of love is the only way to go through this life, facing all the “bad” things we encounter. I believe we can draw the line from the example of Christ and all his followers went through. Most people might not see it, it is not rational indeed, but they will feel it. The love of Christ. Love which reconciles, love which gives peace.

Love is the only way.

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Park Bathing ?

It was an outing with my colleagues at work. We went to an orchid park in Bandung, it has been commercialized though. It was neat, almost too neat for nature, but it was good enough.

As soon as we got in, it was kind of –very– noisy. Two other groups were having an outing and they used loud speakers. Not very soothing indeed. Our team walked through the “park” and at last we reached the green house. Inside the green house were orchids. The green house was not very big and it is quite isolated from the other attractions. Nice spot, exactly what I needed, I thought.

I got in first while my friends were taking pictures outside. Walking inside, there was soothing instrumental sounds going out from the speakers. I walked very slowly and came out after my friends had gone out. Coming out from the green house was a shack. It was not as tidy as the green house and it felt more natural. I think it was the place for cultivating orchids before they were placed in the greenhouse. I walked on the rocks and I really enjoy the sound of their frictions. The feeling was immense, I was alone there with the nature. Coming out from the shack, I heard the birds chirping. It was wonderful.

Wonderful, indeed.

I felt the breeze on my skin and stand there for a while. Absorbing what life wanted to tell me, I closed my eyes. Breathing in and out, in and out. Felt the air going through my lungs, I felt so alive.

A few minutes passed by, one of my friend called me and it’s time to continue the walk. After that, I enjoyed having a fun time with my friends. Walking through tall bridges and flying fox and so on. Truly a bliss.

Enjoying the Presence

For three years now, the youth community in my church has been growing the community and focused on community cells in the past year. I have been blessed to lead one of the community cell with a partner and we both joined the community cell for community cell leaders.
Yesterday, there was a meeting for community cell leaders but I felt kind of restless to be honest. Despite that, I still went to the meeting and started following the worship. We sang a song “When I opened my eyes and see your face, I am pleased. I want to know You more, more than anyone I know.” Unconsciously I began to close my eyes as I sing and I tried to enjoy the song. However, I don’t know why, I believe it might be caused by my restlessness, that I could not focus. My thoughts flew to other things when I closed my eyes. When we sang the song again from the beginning, I decided to open my eyes and see the faces around me. Maybe you have guessed what I seen, all my friends (except one) closed their eyes and it seemed like they all were contemplating and enjoying the song. You know, that kind of serious closed eyes haha. I thought maybe I was like that when I closed my eyes.

“When I opened my eyes and see your face, I am pleased.”

I started to scan their faces one by one. I kinda felt drawn into their journey of life, I know who these people are and I started to say thanks to God for them. For how their lives have intertwined with mine.

“When I see my life and your work in it, I am amazed.”

I started to remember how my friends’ lives have changed mine, and vice versa. I have not get along that well with them all, but two to three people are very close to me to the point I can be totally open. I thought that was really beautiful.

And as I sang the chorus “And I want to know You, Lord, more than anyone I know. There is no love greater than Yours, I am here to be Your worshiper,”

I looked closely at my friends’ faces and truly feel like I wanted to know them more. I remembered a verse said ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:40 NIV). I saw these people as manifestations of God. I felt very emotional at that time, yet peaceful at the same time.

I have always have this thing in mind that we enjoy songs we sing with our eyes closed. But yesterday, I felt so blessed when I did not close them. Conversely, I am grateful because I did not close my eyes.

What moment you enjoy the most in your worship?

The Kingdom of God

What are your opinions of the Kingdom of God?

I once believe it is heaven, somewhere up there above the clouds with gold and angels everywhere, and of course where God is.

But now? I have a very different point of view regarding this.

It all started a few days ago, when I read The Heart of Christianity by Marcus J. Borg. I started to read in high school but I guess my capacity were not enough back then. Okay, so a few days ago I continued from the last chapter I read many years ago and I have not finished it yet. The last chapter I read was about the Kingdom of God.

I have to agree with this book, the Kingdom of God is not really emphasized in my church or my Bible studies in school, whereas it is one of the things emphasized in the New Testament. One evidence is it clearly stated in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy kingdom come”.

I used to know that that phrase is metaphorical, Thy Kingdom come means we, and the Christian community, wait for Jesus’ coming for the second time. However, Borg questioned, why did Jesus said “kingdom” rather than “community” or “family”? He came to a conclusion; it was because of the context. When Jesus lived, there are the kingdom of Rome and other kingdoms on earth. What Jesus said was literally that kind of kingdom, hence the kingdom of God is a kingdom where God rules. Frankly, if The Kingdom of God means heaven, then heaven means earth where God rules. Heaven is not a place up there, it is right here on earth! This conclusion in the book struck me.

…and it did not stop there.

Today, I found out that Jason Mraz released his new album, and the last song of the album is “Love is still the answer

Click here to listen! It really is a good song.

Why are we here? To learn how to master peace or to master war? Why should we pick ourselves up and start over again?

There’s only one answer that matters, love is still the answer

Those lyrics in the song, they keep on repeating in my head.
When I think about the earth, it is full of bad politic system, injustice, the damage of nature. Even human relationships are not perfect; family, employers-employees, teachers-students, between countries, between races. This made me think,

do we, humans, learn to master peace or master war?

Then, I remembered again, about the Kingdom of God.

the Kingdom of God is earth where God rules.

I started to think, what it would be like if God rules the earth?
What would the laws be if God rules? What would the politic system be of God rules? If someone murdered a boy, would God punish the murderer? How would God punish him? What consolation would God bring to the victim’s family?
Would jobs be different if God rules? Would there be inventions and technology? How would God make use of technology?
What kind of culture would emerge if God rules?

And there are a lot more questions and possibilities in my head.

Then I stopped imagining things, and started to wonder…

How about now? With my own job and relationship with other beings in earth.
If God rules, how would he like my job be done? Is God happy with me doing my job this way, or God prefers me to do my job differently?
How about my relationship with others? If God rules, what would become of people from other races? What would the poor be like if God rules? Would there even be anyone who is poor?

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There’s only one answer that matters

Love.

When I think of the word love, the first think comes up at my mind is God. God is love.

I believe, God will rule the earth with love, which can not be separated from justice.
Jesus, when on earth, shouted justice to all. Borg mentioned in his book about how Jesus spent most of his life with the needy and poor, which is why his parables are mostly related to the lives of the poor and needy. Give us our daily bread, for instance, showed that Jesus taught this prayer to poor people who most likely starved and think of their daily bread only each day. It all make sense, Jesus came here to bring justice and love to the needy and the poor, who are treated unjustly and unloved by other people on earth.

So, yeah, I think I get a very little glimpse of how the earth will be when God rules, of the Kingdom of God.


I guess, it is much easier to say than act. I, myself, am not confidence in living the Kingdom of God.

Rather, I think I will always fall now and then. But why should we pick ourselves up and start over again? Yep, it is because of love, it is because of God. I believe we are not made out of accident (like in the song), but we are made out of love. And that is exactly why we have a purpose to live, to love, to bring the Kingdom of God to earth. It could always start with our mindset and do little things. We could always ask, how will it be done if God rules? And we could always pray in our hearts,

Thy kingdom come.

influence

do you realize that YOU influence people around you?

especially those who are really close to you

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in life, when we get close to someone, we get to know their personalities and be accustomed to them, and so do they. with/without knowing it, what they do will affect us, vice versa.

now try to remember. when they got mad of something, you’d be angry too; and when they rejoiced for something good, you’d be joyful too, right? they’re the evidence that you influence your friend and s/he also influences you.

keeping that in mind, we should act more carefully and thoroughly in some situations. no, not to make a mask and create another “personality”, but to control ourselves more so that we don’t give bad influence to the people we cherish the most. as stated before, we’re prone to anger when people we’re close to were angry. in that state, when we decided to be angry too, our beloved one would get angrier and there may be no end to it. that is one of the situations I believe we have to control ourselves. that way, you and your friend wouldn’t have to waste your energy by being in a negative state. conversely, you might want to calm yourselves and figure a way out together 🙂 it would be much better, wouldn’t it?

 

it’s really a blessing to have people we cherish

it’s truly a wonderful journey to grow together

It depends on how you perceive

Today I learn about spiritual parents, joy and sorrow.

I agreed that we experience –neutral– things that we later perceived as bad or good ones. That judgement of good and bad all starts from our mind, our prior experience and our motivation. For example, my boss gets mad to me this whole week. Due to our experience at home or maybe our motivation to do things perfectly, we could perceive that as failure and be sorrowful. In the other hand, we could perceive that as a gap for improvement. And so one experience could be perceived differently on how we look at it.

Does that mean we all have to perceive experience joyfully? Well, not always. The key is being truthful to yourself, is you perceive something negatively then it’s okay as long as you’re honest. However, never forget that as Nouwen said, there are both joy and sorrow in every experience. When you are in sorrow, remember and look at another perspective and maybe you could find joy. And when you are in joy, remember that it comes from sorrow or bring sorrow to someone else. That way, you feel more emotions and gratitude and experience God’s love more deeply, thus spiritually growing.

 

Reflection on Bread for the Journey, Henri Nouwen