Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ambassadors of The Kingdom of God...

As we continue to walk forward in faith in this our '2nd missionary journey'...we have been praying and meditating on what it means to be Ambassadors of the Kingdom of God in Taiwan and anywhere else we find ourselves on this earth. A close friend recently shared this passage with us from the Message translation...we thought we would share it with you all as you also persevere in REpresenting Christ as Ambassadors of the Kingdom in your own circle of influence.

Romans 12 'The Message
' Place Your Life Before God
1-2 So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well- adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. 3 I'm speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it's important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him. 4-6 In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we're talking about is Christ's body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn't amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ's body, let's just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren't. 6-8 If you preach, just preach God's Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don't take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don't get bossy; if you're put in charge, don't manipulate; if you're called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don't let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face. 9-10 Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. 11-13 Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don't quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality. 14-16 Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they're happy; share tears when they're down. Get along with each other; don't be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don't be the great somebody. 17-19 Don't hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you've got it in you, get along with everybody. Don't insist on getting even; that's not for you to do. "I'll do the judging," says God. "I'll take care of it." 20-21 Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he's thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don't let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

The Extravagant Love of Jesus...

We heard a wonderful message on Sunday from Cindy Lee, a Taiwanese American serving at the Pearl Church in Taipei. She taught on God's extravagant love & grace from Luke 7:36-50 and how we must humble ourselves to receive it. Recognizing our need in the same way as the women that poured herself out before Jesus. She also shared about her personal experience and understanding of the extravagant love of God through a story from her childhood. I asked her if I could share a part of her message with you:

"I think there are so many lost Christians in this world because we haven’t truly received. There are so many lost Christians in this city, and many who come through this church. It seems like a contradiction to say lost Christian. Isn’t Jesus the answer? And that’s right. Theologically, it’s impossible to have a lost Christian. And yet…so many of us live like lost Christians. We live confused, like we don’t know who we are, like we don’t know what our purpose is. If that’s you, then maybe you’ve never truly received.

Allow me to give an illustration, and hopefully this will help. For those of you that grew up in the church, what is one of the first songs that you learn in Sunday school? Most likely it’s Jesus loves me. Well, I grew up going to a Taiwanese immigrant church in a suburb near Chicago, and we did sing Jesus loves me, but we had to learn it in Taiwanese. The parents thought we should learn about Jesus and learn about our culture at the same time. So instead of singing Jesus loves me this I know, we sang “Ya Sou Tia Wa, Wa Zai Ah.

But it wasn’t until recently that I realized they changed one of the words to the song. In Taiwanese, they changed the word for love.

If you looked at a Chinese hymnal, you would see the Chinese word for love, which most of you know is Ai. And there is a Taiwanese equivalent to that, just a different tone, Ai. But that’s not the word they sing. The Taiwanese dialect doesn’t have a written form, but when Taiwanese congregations looks at the Chinese hymnal, their mind instinctively replaces the word love with Tia.

Tia is most often used when talking about a parent’s love for a child. Tia is feeling plus action put together. It means, because I love you, I’ll take care of you. It means, because I love you, I’ll provide for you. What’s strange is that Tia also means hurt. So the Chinese character is teng which is the same character and same word for hurt, implying that there is also pain in this kind of love. Because I love you, I will make sacrifices for you. I know it’s confusing, but it’s the gospel in a Taiwanese word.

Here’s another example for those of you that didn’t grow up in a Taiwanese household. Think about your Taiwanese friends, or the Taiwanese people that come to this church. How do they serve you? How do they serve the church? Well, most of them are really good and taking care of people and taking care of whatever needs to get done. Whenever you have a need, they’re the first to offer help. That’s Tia. It’s like Tia is the spiritual gift of the Taiwanese people.

But doesn’t that change the song? Not only does Jesus love you, but Jesus takes care of you. And that’s exactly what so many of us have trouble receiving. Yes, you know Jesus loves you, but that love remains abstract, and you’ve never experienced the very tangible, very real, very intimate and very caring love of Jesus Christ. You don’t know Jesus in that way. You’ve never full received.

Maybe you would never dare or risk to put yourself in such a vulnerable position as this woman did, and trust that Jesus will respond. Maybe you’re like Simon, showing respect to Jesus on the outside, but skeptical of Jesus on the inside. You don’t trust Jesus enough to actually let him make changes to your life.

It’s fitting that this woman’s actions were so extravagant, because God’s love is extravagant, but it must be received..."