Post #GCSA15: 5 things Adventist Millenials can do after the General Conference

GCSA2015

It. Is. Finished.

Now what?

These are 5 things that you and I can do in light of, and in response to, what has happened.

1) Speak up.

Even Twitter didn’t see it coming – the interactive contribution of SDA millennials across the globe displaying the most effective use of a hashtag I’ve seen till date.

If Twitterverse has told me anything during the past week, it’s this:
Millenials have a voice. And we want to be heard.

So speak up. Raise your voice. Do whatever it takes to shake up the status quo, either in your local congregation or community. Do so in a manner that shows the clearest picture of Jesus.

And lest we forget: Few millennials with a relevant message spoke up once with a passion fueled by the fire in their bones.

Now they are 18 million strong. And growing.

2) Get connected to your local church.

Our current demographics within the Adventist church reveal that we are not the church of tomorrow, but the church of today.  In light of that fact, the gross under-representation of young adult delegation at the GC could evoke in us one of two responses:

1- Express angst and continue to find reasons as to why we should have been better represented, or

2-Ensure our representation in #GCI2020 by getting plugged in now.

This is what Elder Gilbert Cangy, the youth director for the General Conference, had to say when interviewed about the process of becoming a delegate at the General Conference session:

“The General Conference, as an entity, does not choose delegates. The delegates are chosen as close as possible to the local churches. It only makes sense to trust the leaders closest to the local churches to know the individuals who can contribute in a significant way to the (future and direction) of the church (at large). Each division of the world church ensures the credibility of its delegates by “screening” them through the responses of union presidents and local church pastors.”

He later went on to say that when a young adult is faithful to the principles of our faith and is an affirming, empowering voice at the local church level, chances are that he or she will be noticed by other local leaders as someone who has the best interest of the church at heart. After that, it’s only a matter of time till their name is referred for nomination.

All this tells me that the surest path to becoming a delegate at the GC session always starts at the doors of your local church.

Get involved at your church. Lead a ministry. Be proactive.

3) Be informed

The GC session can be a cure for “denominational myopia.”

 Let me unpack that.

As millennials, we have a high-functioning radar which detects anything from an ugly logo to an inefficient system. Scrutiny and critique can oftentimes be effortless.

So let me be the first to admit that it’s easy for me to get distracted by something that happens to me at church and indiscriminately color my perception of the church at large with a large, hairy, brush – all the while not realizing that I’ve haphazardly colored over some other things as well.

Myopia is simply being hyper-focused on what lies nearest to you that you fail to include the larger context. And I was myopic about my denomination.

Experiencing the GC, albeit for two days, significantly lessened this myopia by exposing me to the larger context of the world church.

Listening to the division reports, interacting with those from other cultures and nations, and seeing God’s activity among them showed me that the ‘church’ is more than just what happens to me in my local church.

The GC reminded me that the ‘church’ is bigger than its issues.  The more I was informed, the less myopic I became. The more I got to know the larger context, the less I reacted to the smaller ones.

What we do is greatly impacted by what we are up against. Therefore the more we are informed about what’s happening in our local congregation, community, and the global Adventist community, the better we are suited to be game changers for the Kingdom.

4) Find a Christ-centered mentor who has your best interest at heart.

Nuff said.

5) Dig deeper into Scripture.

As I was scrolling through my twitter feed on the day of the big vote, I couldn’t help but wonder:

What if millennials were half as engaged and committed to spending time in Scripture as they were on their Twitter feeds?

What would that look like? How would that look like in their personal lives and in the lives of their communities?

Iconic theologian and author A.W Tozer once made this provocative statement:

“Social religion is perfected when private religion is purified.”

Boom. *drops mic*

Friends, we are not just millennials but Seventh-Day Adventist millennials: a special group of people who have been entrusted with the end-time message of a living Savior to be shared with a dying world.
For us to be bold in the world, we need to first be humble before God in the prayer closet. The more we dig deeper into Scripture, the more leverage and arsenal we have along with the adults and leaders of our church.

Our cultural relevancy is largely dependent on our Scriptural fluency. When we are well-versed in Scripture, not only are we able to speak the language of other demographics within our denomination, but we become better influencers of those outside of it.

A lot of hurt and frustration has understandably ensued in light of Wednesday’s vote. I am right there with those who are disappointed. I’m sure those who are at the brink of leaving have legitimate reasons for doing so. If that’s you, my friend, I appeal to you sincerely – We need you and your pain. Some of the biggest turnarounds and movements in history occurred when a small group of people harnessed their collective dissatisfaction in effective and constructive ways. If you want to move forward, these 5 steps maybe a start. If not, hit me up. Let me listen.

These are just 5 things. What are YOU going to do after this session? Please leave a comment in the spaces below!

(pic courtesy of http://www.nadsecretariat.org)

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The Gospel According to Sriracha

sriracha-sistine-chapel

There are two kinds of people in this world.

People who have tried Sriracha. And people who have not.

If you are here, chances are that either you know what Sriracha is, have tried it, or wondering where this gospel is found in the Bible ( check in the appendix…… just kidding)

For those falling under the aforementioned third category, Sriracha is the world’s greatest sauce.
If you haven’t tried it yet,  I suggest you stop reading this article, go to your local Asian store, buy a bottle,  and put it on as many food items as possible and immediately consume them.

You will see the light.

Sriracha, predictably, is also my most favorite sauce. I like it so much, I douse Sriracha on my Sriracha.

Recently, one of my Sriracha-lover friends mentioned a documentary made on this ubiquitous, fan-mongering sauce, the origins of which no one seemed to know. Being an obsessed fan, I wanted to know more about this condiment than just its effect on my tongue.

I watched all 35 minutes of it.

As I began reflecting on the documentary, I could not help but see parallels between my favorite sauce and the good news of the Christian message ( i.e the gospel)!

Here are some napkin-notes I took while watching it.

1) Sriracha does not advertise. Ever.

I was dumb-founded when I heard that David Tran, the CEO of Huy Fong foods and the mastermind behind Sriracha, does not advertise his product. “We don’t have time to advertise” David says. “There’s only time for production. I’m busy looking at my chili supply that I don’t have time to look at Facebook or Twitter” he continues.

Tran spends almost all of his time with the source of the product that he doesn’t have time to be concerned with advertising it. As a result, the quality of the product does its own advertising.

Reminds me of John 15 where Jesus gives a lesson in horticultural to his bros.

“I am the Vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5

Jesus tells his disciples that when they are connected to Him, they won’t have time to flaunt their “fruit.” The more they would spent time checking their relationship with the Source and less on themselves, the more their friends will see and share their Christ with others.

What if we spent less time advertising our Christianity and more time with our Christ?

How would that look like?

2) Sriracha forms authentic community.

Sauces don’t form community. Sriracha does.

When I wore my Sriracha shirt to class few weeks ago, I was ambushed by at least half a dozen people. All of them were diverse, yet unified by one goal:

They loved Sriracha ( And they wanted my shirt ).

Everywhere I go, I invariably meet Sriracha fanatics like myself who inevitably end up reminiscing the moments when their tastebuds were resurrected.
It fascinates me how community is formed around a green-capped, plastic bottle!

Part of the reason, I think, is how affordable it is.

Tran purposely marked down the price per bottle in order to make it accessible to both college student and congressman alike. He loved his recipe so much that he wanted everyone to try it.Sriracha-Mac-and-Cheese-Baked1

Coincidentally, Scripture mentions that God so loved the world that he wanted everyone to try His “product” – salvation.

The gift of salvation – the person of Jesus Christ –is made available, accessible, and affordable to every human being.  Those who had “tasted” this gift were not only transformed, but also formed a community of “fanatics” who’s only purpose was to offer this gift to others.

Today they call it the “church.”

3) Sriracha is a symbol of sacrificial commitment.

David Tran is boss.

As an immigrant from Vietnam during the 50’s, he had to endure many hardships prior to starting his business. After noticing the lack of hot sauces in local Vietnamese restaurants, Tran began to experiment with chili and spices and concocted his own sauce.
It took him one week to make one bottle, but he persevered.

That was 4 decades ago.

Now David has a factory that manufactures 3000 bottles per hour, 24 hours, 6 days per week raking over 1 billion dollars in global sales.

Because of one man’s commitment to his passion and the sacrifices he was willing to make for the benefit of others, millions around the world can now truly taste food.

The Christian message is rooted in One who was willing to give it all up. One who was faithful to His commitment to save the world even to the very end. Because of what He did, millions around the world are still able to truly taste life.

———-

Can’t wait for that glorious day. When at that great banquet table, with all who have endured till the end, my Savior eats with me.

It will be fantastic.

Especially when He reaches under the table…

..and pulls out His Sriracha bottle.

🙂

A Sriracha lover? What do you like about it? Any more connections to anything you can find with it??
Feel free to share in the comments below!

Why Christians Should Not Focus On Being Like Jesus.

photo-1421809313281-48f03fa45e9fI’ve always wondered what the phrase “be like Jesus” meant.

Does it mean to copy His appearance? If so, does that mean I had to grow a beard, sow my own clothes, and chuck my shoes for some sandals?

Does it mean to imitate His personality? Then does that mean I have to swap my hyena laugh for a sanctified snicker? Sing softer in the shower? Or replace my srilankanamerican accent for a more middle-eastern one?

Or does it mean to mimic his character?  Be more loving? Caring? Inclusive?

However way you look at it, there were people in history who made it their life’s aim to be like Jesus.
One such individual was the apostle Paul who appeals to his readers to “imitate him as he imitates Christ.” In another letter, he encourages some church folk to fix their eyes on Jesus as they run the race of faith.

As a matter of fact, both scripture and history are replete with individuals who proclaimed that the strongest argument for Christianity were Christians who acted like Jesus.

This even resonated with the famous Indian liberationist Mahatma Gandhi, who made the following statement:

“I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike Christ.”

Ouch.

Here’s the bottom line:  Christ-like behavior is the acid-test of true Christianity.

But here’s the thing..

Christians should not focus on being like Jesus.

“Wait a minute, Kev. How can you be like Jesus without focusing on being like him??”

Buckle up.

Christians should not focus on being like Jesus. The word that needs to be sharpied and spotlighted in that sentence is focus.

I don’t know about you, but I thought that focusing on being like Jesus was the way to do this Christianity thing. I thought I was supposed to focus on walking, talking, and acting like Jesus to display his character.

And I tried. I tried my best to be more loving, be more caring, and be more inclusive.  I tried my utmost to be Jesus-y with others, especially towards my non-Christian friends to be “salt” and “light.” I tried my best to have the right thoughts, the right actions, and the right behaviors.
But instead of becoming more like Jesus, I found myself becoming more disappointed.

Because the more I focused on being like Jesus, the less I focused on Jesus and more on my works.

Check out how Dallas Willard puts it in his book Renovations of the Heart:

“The external manifestation of Christlikeness is not the focus of Christian spiritual formation. When outward forms or behaviors are made the main emphasis, the process will be defeated, falling into deadening legalisms…”

Mercy.

Now let’s just say that my trying to be like Jesus actually made me more like Jesus. If that was true ( and I wish it was sometimes! ) the object of glory will then be my works instead the grace of Christ!

Inevitably, my spirituality will become my savior while my Savior will be used for my spirituality.

Christians should not focus their efforts on being like Jesus. In theological jargon, that’s called “righteousness by works” and that’s not how the game’s played.

“So Kevin, if I am to be like Jesus, and focusing on being like him is not going to get me there, what else am I supposed to do??”

Glad you asked. Here’s my answer and the seminal point of this post:

Christians should not focus on being like Jesus. Christians should focus on being with Jesus.

In John 15, Jesus preaches a sermon where he likens himself to a grape vine and his followers to attached branches. Then he makes a remarkable statement:

“If you remain in me, and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

Notice. The branches were not asked to focus on producing fruit ( good works) to produce fruit. They were asked to remain with the vine so they can bear fruit.

Christians are not called to produce fruit. They are called to bear fruit.
Christians are not called to focus on producing Christ-like behavior. Christians are called to bear the characteristics of Christ by remaining with Jesus. This is confirmed by Paul when he says that it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good pleasure.

So when you are with Jesus, spending time alone with him, talking with him, meditating on his love for you, and receiving his grace, He will transform you from the inside out. The more we admit we are powerless to beat sin and inculcate Christ-like behavior by ourselves, the more we open our souls to the work of God to change us into the likeness of Christ.

But isn’t that works? Yes it is. A lot of works.
But the most important work of a Christian is to focus all the efforts in being with Jesus in word, thought, and deed.
This requires you to forgo your need to prove your worth to God so that Jesus guide and transform you.
That’s probably why Oswald Chambers says

“all I do ought to be founded on a perfect oneness with Him, not on a self-willed determination to be holy.”

Don’t focus on being like Jesus. Focus on being with Jesus. And He will make you more like Him.

What are your thoughts? What are some ways you can start being with Jesus instead of trying to be like him?
Leave a comment below!