CNY and people

Friday, January 27, 2006

It's almost here: The time of year when I go back to visit my grandmother and relatives and 'enjoy' the company of people. The time we singles smile the broadest to all the married people because we receive while they give. The time we eat until we don't know how to stop. The time we perform a lot of traditional practices when we may not even understand it's significance. Yes, it's Chinese New Year, and I'll be heading back home for a few days (Singapore doesn't give holidays) to celebrate it.

So since it's over the weekend, there won't be any weekend services. After all, it's one of the few times we stay home to celebrate and spend time with our family. Therefore, we had our service on Tuesday and Wednesday, and it was fantastic! Pastor Kong really preached a great word that day, so I thought I'd share it with everyone.

Jesus worked a certain way when reaching out to the lost. Luke 10 shows us that when He sent people out, He'd ask them to do a few things, and in a certain order:
1) Bless them
Blessing them means to speak nicely, politely and be friendly!

2) Fellowship with them
Take the time to get to know them, spend time with them, relate to them!

3) Find a need to meet
Pray for them, meet their practical needs

4) Share the gospel
(Self explanatory)

These ought to be done in this order. Sadly we often do it the way WE want to do it, and it just makes things worse.

So what does this have to do with Chinese New Year? Not everyone gets along well with everyone, especially if you're meeting your extended families. There are bound to be friction and disputes, and during this period, it would be great if it didn't worsen, but in fact got resolved. How do we do it?

A very good place to start, is to stop being judgemental and critical of others. Accept everyone regardless of the kind of lifestyle they live. That doesn't mean you condone everything that person does, but we shouldn't be overly righteous and try to impose what we THINK righteousness is.

In life, there's a spectrum of things. On one end, we have some of the things which are undisputedly moral; things like peace, holiness, mercy, compassion... love... The other end consists of things we know and we know are immoral; like killing, stealing, lying, cheating... but in between that is a GREY area which has things that are AMORAL. These things are like fashion, style, culture, food. Do you think that if and only if you eat a certain type of food, then God counts you as righteous? Do you think that if and only if you wear a certain kind of clothes, obey certain customs, follow certain cultures, only then God will count you as righteous? Obviously not! These things are amoral. They are neither right or wrong... at least not in general.

The bible tells us that Christians should be the most liberated people on earth, simply because we should not be governed by doctrines which are not in the bible. Paul explains that the liberal Christians are the STRONG Christians, people who live by faith, not be what they can or cannot do. That's not the license to go and do whatever we want... but it is not right for the conservative to judge the more liberal ones for say, eating meat. Nor is it right for those who eat meat to look down on those who don't. We sin not when we DO these things, but when we DO them without faith. So a Christian who feels it is OK to drink wine and does so believing truly that wine is a gift from God and does NOT indulge in drunkedness does not sin against God, but a person who feels frightened or threatened that drinking is not unto God yet drinks, he/she is guilty of sin. It is not right or wrong, but faith; which is to do what you really believe in your heart!

Again I say, this is not a license to do what you please without remorse. A truly strong Christian who loves God would be wise not to let himself fall into bondage, which is what indulging too much in these things can lead to. We ought to be led by the Holy Spirit, but if He's not strong in you, how can you be led?

So don't act the Holy Spirit. Living by rules is easier than living in freedom, because when you have freedom, you also have responsibility. Based on this, we ought not to be too judgemental over other people. We may not condone the smoking habit of a relative, but that does not mean we can't love and accept the person who does. Bless them, fellowship with them, be there for them, and this CNY could just be the time you soften their hearts and bring them to Christ!

This is important even for non-Christians. People don't care how much you know till they know how much you care. Be less judgemental of the minor insignificant things (like food, dressing etc) and it would go a long way to improve relationships.

I'm trying my best to improve the ones I have, some are doing well... but that's another story.

Posted by Gerald at 1/27/2006 12:15:00 AM