How the 28 Fundamental Beliefs of Adventism Relate to the Cross

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Ellen White writes,

“The Sacrifice of Christ as an atonement for sin is the great truth around which all other truths cluster. In order to be rightly understood and appreciated, every truth in the Word of God, from Genesis to Revelation, must be studied in the light that streams from the cross of Calvary….*

So this Easter, I attempted to do this myself. How, in fact, does our system of truth – if it does – coincide with the aforementioned statement?

Here goes nothing:

  1. The Holy Scriptures : The Bible is the grand story book, inspired by God, which reveals the story of redemption through human agency. Every story enclosed within ultimately points to the resolution of our story found at the cross. 

     

  2. The Trinity : The Trinity is God in three Persons: Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. The cross was the historical juncture where, for the first time in eternity, the Son was ripped away from the Godhead.

     

  3. The Father: God, the Father, revealed his infinite love for humanity when He permitted his only begotten Son to die for you on the cross. 

     

  4. The Son: God, the Son; the one who was nailed on the cross for you; the One who took your shame but then “shamed the shame” (Hebrews 12).

     

  5. The Holy Spirit : God, the Spirit, who was present with the Son before and during His incarnation, is now active in the world drawing all to the foot of the cross to find healing and restoration.

     

  6. Creation : God created the world in 6-literal days, imbuing it with meaning, value, and purpose. The brokenness that crept upon it was ultimately absorbed by God on the cross, ensuring the promise of its restoration.

     

  7. The Nature of Humanity : Man was made in the image of God which was then marred by sin. God, in Christ, reconciled broken humanity with perfect divinity at the cross by becoming the very thing that destroyed us.

     

  8. The Great Controversy : The very weapon Satan devised against God was the very weapon that God used to defeat him. The cross rang the death knell to Satan’s dominion on this earth. Even though the war is over, we still decide whom to crown.

     

  9. The Life, Death, and Resurrection of Christ : As one of my friends mentioned, Christ was the only being who chose to be born, but only did that after He chose to die. The cross was, simultaneously, the ugliest and the most beautiful aspect of his incarnate existence.

     

  10. The Experience of Salvation : What the cross more than achieves for us.

     

  11. Growing in Christ : The process by which I am crucified with Jesus on the cross daily, through faith, so that His life becomes increasingly actualized in mine.

     

  12. The church : The community of believers which finds its mission, efficacy, and celebration at the foot of the cross. 

     

  13. The Remnant and Its Mission: The community of God which keeps the commandments of God and holds on to the testimony of Jesus Christ; both of which find their impetus at the cross. 

     

  14. Unity in the Body of Christ – The community of Christ is culturally, racially, ethnically, nationally, vocationally, and demographically diverse. The cross preserves the distinctive beauty of this community while calling it to a higher standard.

     

  15. Baptism : The symbol of your confession by faith to what the cross means to you. It’s an acknowledgment of the pre-eminence of Christ in your life and the permission of God to work through your life.

     

  16. The Lord’s Supper : The symbolic service of the body of Jesus that was broken and the blood that was spilt on the cross. It’s also a reminder that we are to be cross-bearing people in our daily existence.

     

  17. Spiritual Gifts and Ministries : God has gifted every member of the body of Christ with talents and abilities which are to be used for the sole purpose of illuminating the efficacy of the cross to those in and outside of it.

     

  18. The Gift of Prophecy : God’s gift to the remnant community to both help illuminate the beauty of the cross within Scripture and to educate it to live the life of the cross in the world.

     

  19. The Law of God : The transcript of God’s character which reveals how to love God and love others. This was perfectly lived out by Jesus, who through a perfect sacrifice on the cross, assures us that we will be made perfect by His grace through faith.

     

  20. The Sabbath : The 24-hour gift of time where God rested from his work of creation and the work of redemption. Christ honored the Sabbath not only during his life, but also subsequently after his death on the cross as He rested in the grave on Saturday.

     

  21. Stewardship : The cross is the penultimate model for stewardship given to humanity, where God leverages his highest capacities to serve the least of these.

     

  22. Christian Behavior: Christ paid the infinite cost at the cross to restore our bodies and characters to His likeness. An aspect of Christianity, then, is about dedicating the members of our being to serve others and serve God.

     

  23. Marriage and the Family : The Biblical ideal of marriage is fully realized when each one strives to manifest, through the power of God, the self-sacrificing love of Christ modeled for us on the cross. 

     

  24. Christ’s Ministry in the Heavenly Sanctuary : Christ is coronated as king in the heavens, initiated as priest for his children on earth today, but these are only made possible because he was crucified as a criminal on the cross for you and me.

     

  25. The Second Coming of Christ : Christ won the victory as our substitute on the cross, paving way for Him to parade through our atmosphere as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, to take us to our eternal home.

     

  26. Death and Resurrection : At the cross, Christ laid death in its grave. So that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

     

  27. The Millennium and the End of Sin : The time period between the first and second resurrection where the righteous and the unrighteous will be sensitized to the magnitude of the cross. 

     

  28. The New Earth : The ultimate existential paradigm where the science of salvation will be taught through the text-book of the cross, the song of salvation sung in the key of the cross, the substance of salvation lived out through the way of the cross, among the community of the cross, forever, and ever more.

    …I present before you the great, grand monument of mercy and regeneration, salvation and redemption,–the Son of God uplifted on the cross. This is to be the foundation of every discourse given by our ministers.”*
May it be so today, and every moment hereafter.

*Gospel Workers, 315.
What are your thoughts? What other relations do you see between SDA Theology and the Cross? Leave a Comment below!

Why I Can’t Celebrate Christmas

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Honestly, I could end this post in a few lines.

Fire in Oakland.

Chapecoense football team. 

Genocide in Syria.

Bombings in Germany. 

Explosions in Mexico.

Attacks in Pakistan.

Post-election America. 

Add to this your own personal pains – the passing of loved ones, loss of opportunities, stresses of life – and they still wonder why you can’t deck the halls with boughs of holly or jingle all the way.

This Christmas has been a tough one. It’s been a month since my grandmother died and our family is deeply feeling the void. The political and humanitarian crises at large have sensitized me to the reality of life and only exacerbated this pain.

No. I can’t seem to find a way to celebrate Christmas. Not with everything’s that’s going on. It’s hard to join in on the rampant consumerism and the religious tribalism when you want closure and comfort.

So as a follower of Christ, I’m at a crossroads:

How do I reconcile the pains of the world with the birth of the Promised One?
How can I celebrate Christmas while I’m grieving?
How can I be real with the truth while being truthful to my reality?

I came across a story recently that has given me perspective. It’s found herebut let me summarize it for you: 

The story happens during the time Ahaz was the King of Judah. Ahaz is chilling while he gets news that Rezin and Pekah ( enemies of Judah ) have formed a coalition against Ahaz to subdue it. While homeboy Ahaz is depressed, God sends Isaiah, his prophet, to send a message to him. Isaiah is like, “ Bro, don’t sweat it. God’s going to take care of this.” Ahaz is still petrified. So God Himself engages Ahaz in a crucial conversation. Probably went something like this:

God: Bro, ask me a sign. Any sign. I’ll give it to you. Don’t worry about Rezin and Pekah.
Ahaz: Nah, Lord. I won’t ask a sign. It’s not that serious.
God: Bro why? You guys never learn. So let me give you a sign:

“Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.”

Sounds familiar?

If you are, you may have seen this text footnoted in Matthew’s rendition of the birth narrative. Scholars are split on whether the prophecy in Isaiah is foretelling the birth of Jesus or some other baby named “Immanuel”, but given the contexts of Matthew, the rest of the gospels, and the mission of the Messiah, it wouldn’t be too much of a contextual leap to assume the former.

What am I trying to get at? Two things:

1.God’s solution to a maelstrom was not a strategy, but a Son.

God offers a Son as a solution for the political, religious, and emotional mess that Ahaz has gotten himself into. He places his Son right in the middle of pithy platitudes, vacuous promises, and manipulative ends to both break destructive systems and redeem them.

2.God is “God with us.”

Immanuel means “God with us.” The Son was, and is, the fullest expression of God who moved into our neighborhood, enfleshed in humanity. The Son is one who can relate to us in the darkest of nights, the brightest of days, and every day in between.

“God with us” is community. “God with us” is intimacy. “God with us” is solidarity.

Yes. It is a hard Christmas. But it was then just as it is now.
The story points out that Christ was born not in spite of the griefs of his world, but into it. He was born into a political mess, into a religious war, into an imminent, indiscriminate genocide of children, into suffering, into inconvenience, into pain.

This Christmas I take comfort knowing that He is not indifferent to my pain and yours, but intimately acquainted to it. He is in the middle of the maelstroms of my life as Savior, and beside me as Immanuel.

So I may not be able to celebrate Christmas. But I can celebrate Christ. And that’s enough for me right now.

How are you dealing with the Christmas blues? leave a comment below!

Christmas Confessions of a Third-Culture-Kid

Christmas wont be homeChristmas is painful sometimes.

A significant part of the problem is being unable to identify what “home” really is.

Home is where the heart is, people say. But what if my heart is in many different places? Does that mean I have multiple homes? If so, then is there a place out of all these homes to really call “home?”

I am what they call a Third-Culture Kid (TCK). In short, this means that during my 25-year excursion of this world, I’ve spent developmental periods of my life in multiple countries apart from my place of birth.

Due to the high mobility shared by fellow TCK’s across the globe, home is characterized by a state of intermittence – it is fluid and in a constant state of flux.

I am a case in point.

For the first 12 years of my life, home was the verdant city of Kandy in Sri Lanka. Then till I was 19, the metropolis of Muscat in the Sultanate of Oman was home. Thanks to Uncle Sam and his provisional invite called the “Green Card”, home, since then, has been the United States.

Over the span of the last 6 years, I’ve gypsied from Maryland to Michigan, to Beirut, to Muscat, to Sri Lanka, and then back to Michigan, and will eventually head out to California.

“Where is home for you?”

If you are born and raised in your country of birth, the answer to that question would be pointedly singular and specific. But if you were to ask me that question, I’d state verbatim the previous paragraph supplemented by a geography lesson outlining the nautical distance between Sri Lanka and India and an anthropology lesson clarifying that Tamil-speaking Sri Lankans and Tamil Tiger terrorists from Sri Lanka are NOT synonymous concepts.

Home, therefore, is not where my heart is.

It is where my foot is.

Home is where I make it to be.

Home is everywhere. And home is nowhere.

Christmas, unlike any other season, unabashedly and unapologetically reminds me of home. This morning, however, as I was reflecting on the Christmas story detailed in the Bible, I was refreshed to find that my sentiments regarding home found clarity and purpose in the birth of the ultimate TCK – Jesus Christ.

God became flesh. Divinity was enshrouded in humanity. The One who knew no time was born in it. If there was anyone in history who knew the pains of being away from home it was Jesus.

While families across the globe are reunited with their loved ones during this joyous season, the Reason for the season was separated from his family, not just during his birth but for the rest of his life.

But this separation was not a complete separation. Jesus, through his life, exemplified the life of a human being who was in constant communion to his Heavenly Father. Even though there was a physical separation, Jesus felt the closeness of his heavenly home emotionally, spiritually, and relationally.

As I write this, I’m in California spending Christmas with the ever hospitable family of my significant other. At this time I can’t help but remember the many families who have adopted me in like manner by giving a bed to sleep on, food to eat, and a place to call home.

The warmth and sense of belonging I have received in these places have undeniably alleviated the pain of distance. They have taught me that while I may be physically away from those places I call ‘home’, I am and forever will be connected to them in my heart.

This Christmas I’m thankful for the many homes the Lord has provided for me during the course of my life. I truly have pieces of my heart in each of those places.

I’m also thankful that even though I may be seas away from my family, I am but a prayer away from God.

But above all, I thank God for the promise of a permanent home.

A home where I will no longer be concerned with my next flight away.
A home where I no longer need to validate my identity.
A home where I don’t have to live off of my suitcase.
A home of perpetual joy, light, and happiness.
A home that is not tampered by the vicissitudes of life nor the tyranny of time.
A home whose builder and maker is God.

I won’t be home for Christmas.

For now.

Are you a Third-Culture Kid? If so How do you deal with this concept of home especially during holidays? Leave a comment below!

Why Bible Reading is Difficult and What you Can Do About It.

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“ It’s too boring…”

“It’s too hard…”

“It’s not relevant…”

“I don’t get it…”

“It’s too old…”

And they go on. I’ve heard them, you’ve heard them.

Let’s face it: Reading the Bible can sometimes be a slow death experience. Maybe it hasn’t for you. But it surely has been for me.

Pastors, teachers, and well-intentioned Christians have portrayed reading the Bible as a joyous search for Mickey Mouse in Disneyland. But for me, more often than not, it has instead been a painfully cruel game of “Where’s Waldo” in Jurassic Park.

It’s been a journey, but I’ve learnt to appreciate the Bible quite a bit. It’s actually been a joyful experience! But why has reading the Bible been, and, can be such a difficult experience for many?

My dude Peter has something to say about that:

Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.
(1 Peter 2:1-3).

The word that had me pause is “if” in v.3.

In the Greek, this word is used as a conditional clause. That means that the facts of verse 1 and 2 are assumed to be true IF the condition for it to be true in verse 3 is valid. In other words, my dude Peter is saying that you’ll grow through the word of God IF you have experienced who God is for yourself.

This makes more sense when you see how Peter introduces the letter in chapter 1. The disciple spends a significant portion of the chapter explaining to his hearers who God is and what He has done on for, and, behalf of them. He then makes a brief appeal to the read the word of God and then introduces his next thought cluster with the verse above.

Let me put into Kevinese what Peter was maybe trying to say few centuries ago:

Reading the Bible can be so difficult for many people because they are trying to figure out WHAT God is trying to tell them before trying to figure out WHO God is to them.

The Bible is a love letter from a Father revealing His heart to His kids. Inspired by my buddy Richard Martin who shared this thought with me, if I can add something to Scripture (which I can if I want to get stoned), I would add just two words before Genesis 1:1:

Dear Kevin..”

Because that’s what the Bible is! From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is a beautifully syncopated symphony of a Master Conductor leading the instrumentalists to compose this single line of melody that has been reverberating through the chambers of human history since the beginning of time:

“God…is…love.”

But some tend to focus on the melody at the expense of forgetting the heart behind it – much like a student who is at an orchestra to write a report for credit rather than to listen to the music for enjoyment.

I can’t begin to tell you the number of times I’ve heard the muted groans of many well-intentioned people when it comes to reading the Bible. For many, it’s been a textbook rather than a love-letter. For some, it’s been a cutlass to cut others rather than a scalpel to surgically restore their own hearts. For the longest time, The Bible has been a manual for my spiritual growth. Nothing more. Nothing less. Because of this perspective, reading the Bible became more of a chore rather than a joy for me. I may have trusted His words, but I didn’t trust the Author.

The Bible is the only book in the world where the key to unlocking it’s meaning lies in the heart of its Author. 

That being said, if you’re struggling to read the Bible as I used to, here are a few things you can start doing right away:

1) Don’t be too hard on yourself 

Sin has jacked up all of us since the fall. Our first parents’ innate orientation towards God and his laws has been completely and irreparably reversed by sin. While Adam and Eve enjoyed floating on the streams of God’s love prior to the Fall, we have been swimming upstream. So the reason why things of God tend to be difficult and amorphous is because our sinful human nature defies Him at every.single.level. It’s not your fault. There is an enemy. And you better give credit where credit’s due.

2) Change your perspective

The good news is that even though we have been wrecked by sin, by grace through faith, we have already moved from death into life. Christ has begun his good work in us, creating in us the desire to both will and to act according to His good pleasure. Since His work in you is conditional upon your choice to permit Him, you can now choose to change your perspective about Scripture.

How?

Start looking for Him before looking for what He’s trying to tell you. Search for the Planner before seeking His plans. Look at Him in the face of Jesus, before hearing what he’s trying to tell you.

And the more you do this, the more you begin to see Him. The more you see him, the more you want to see him. The more you want to see Him, the more you want to spend more time with Him in Scripture.

You’ll then begin to realize that information about God will lead you to intimacy with God, and your intimacy with God will then lead you to learn more information about God.

Who’s with me?

 

The Really, Great, Fantastic, News about… Guilt!

guilt pic

Guilt sucks.

Nobody likes to feel guilty.

Maybe you’re still holding on to guilt from something you’ve done in the past.

Maybe you are expecting someone to feel guilty for something they did.

Maybe you’re sick and tired feeling it every.single.time you choose to do “it.”

No matter who you are, and what you’ve done, let me be the first one to tell you this:

Guilt is good.

Guilt is liberating.

Guilt is awesome.

Now I didn’t think like this till I read the following sentence by Ellen White in her book, Steps to Christ, which shoved me down a rabbit hole from whence cometh the following thoughts. If you struggle with me during the first part of this post, I assure you’ll breathe in the next.

There are way too many people holding on to guilt or chained by it. If that is you, please keep reading. If not, still keep reading. 🙂

Here we go:

The Father loved us, not because of the great propitiation, but he provided the propitiation because He loved us” ( SC, 14).

As rhymy and cool sounding as this sentence was, I couldn’t help but wonder:

What on earth is a “propitiation?”

Looked it up. This is how Webster’s Dictionary defines it: To propitiate means to “gain or regain the favor or goodwill of.”

The context points out that Jesus Christ is the great propitiation given to man. The Son of God was given to gain the favor of God for fallen man. This is utterly profound. Let’s consider what this really means lest we gloss over this quickly.

In all fairness, the one who initiates and makes propitiation for the other is the abuser or perpetrator, not the abused or the victim. It is the abuser’s responsibility to take the blame squarely on his/her shoulders and propitiate. But according to the above sentence (and Scripture), God provided his only son – innocent, blameless, and sinless- as a propitiation to us.

But how can the innocent, blameless, sinless Son of God be made unto a “propitiation” for wicked, shameful, blameworthy lives?

The apostle Paul comes in clutch in 2 Corinthians 5:21:

For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”

In short, Jesus was made a sin offering for us by God. Jesus chose to take up the shame, blame, and pain that was mine, onto Him.
As one of my friends once mentioned, Jesus is the only being who chose to be born, but did that only after choosing to die.

So if Jesus chose to take the pain, shame, and blame of my sin on the cross, I don’t have to take it anymore! Because, according to Paul, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ – those who have chosen themselves over to be molded and restored to the likeness of Christ.

I am in Christ by grace through faith. He lives in me through the Holy Spirit. But I am not exempt from the weaknesses of my flesh as long as I’m in this side of heaven. I can still choose to sin if I want to. So when you and I choose to do something that is contrary to the will of God? The immediate response is guilt. And it sucks. Right?

Wrong.

It doesn’t suck.

Guilt is great.

Here’s where I connect the “what” of the first part to the “so what” in the second.

I hope it’s clear that Jesus ALREADY took my pain, shame, and blame onto himself at the cross. I have chosen to be IN Christ. When I choose to sin, therefore, even though it’s my responsibility, I don’t take the blame for it anymore.

Jesus does. Jesus takes the blame, shame, and pain.

The Christ in me takes the blame for my action. The Christ in me feels the hurt, the shame, and the blame. We kid ourselves when we think that the guilt we feel is our guilt. If we really felt our guilt in all its severity and substance, we couldn’t handle it. We would be dead.

Don’t believe me? Look at the cross. My guilt crushed Him. My guilt killed Him.  Not His.

This leads to the seminal point of this post:

Guilt is the apology of Christ in me.

When I am in Christ, The “feeling” of guilt I feel is actually not my guilt at all; what I feel is actually the guilt of Christ in me. The “guilt” I feel, is my guilt that Christ took on himself, blaring from the megaphone of the cross and echoing in the chambers of my heart with a soft whisper:  “I… am.. sorry..”

Jesus Christ, our Eternal Elder Brother, came not just to save us, but to identify with us. As our forever Pastor in heaven, he relates to us – not just in our holiness but also in our brokenness. The guilt I feel is him identifying with me – the voice of Him who was treated as we deserve so that we can treated as he deserves.

The more I am connected to the Christ in me, the more I hear his apology. Conversely, the less I am connected to Him, the less I feel his pain.

That’s why guilt is good. Because the intensity of your guilt is proportional to your connectivity to Christ. The more guilt you feel, the less you need to be concerned about your standing with God.

But Satan knows that too. Therefore, he has a single item on his to-do list every single day:

Misrepresent God.

This is his Modus Operandi, game plan, and reason for existence. When you choose to sin, he capitalizes on our culpability and downloads into our system a series of lies:

This is your fault”

“You should be ashamed of yourself.”

“You are worthless.”

“God can’t forgive you. This is too much.”

“How many times can you fall? God is tired of you.”

Do you think God can ever love you after what you did?”

When you choose to believe these lies, you begin to act according to them. Your attitudes towards yourself and God are fueled by your thoughts. The focus is on self. Another one bites the dust.

But guilt is good news! It is the voice of Jesus inviting you to come back to his arms open wide. It is the voice of a loving father who is waiting to embrace you, not condemn you. It is the voice of an elder brother who is waiting to give you a high-five and encourage you for getting back up.

Guilt provides you the opportunity to glorify God by returning back to him.

So dear reader, I don’t what you have gone through. I don’t know what you have done. I don’t know how you feel. But I do know that God has already paid the price for you and his grace is ever present for those who are willing to receive it. As Jerry Bridges puts it, your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the need of God’s grace, and your best days are never so good that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace.

In Christ, you are so connected to him; So much so that you literally feel his aching heart longing for you.

Still feel guilty? Good. Run to him. He is waiting for you.

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How to Abuse Your Relationship With God.

girl-hair-meadow-403I have to admit.

Sometimes I think God is in an abusive relationship with me.

I get it. “Abuse” is a word loaded with paper trails, court appeals, and restraining orders. It does have baggage. But when taken at face value, to abuse simply means to misuse, or use improperly.

In that vein of thought, here are three ways in which you and I can ab-use our relationship with God.

Hopefully you don’t resonate.

1) Talk to him only when you need something.

Dr.Allan Walshe, my professor from my youth and young adult class, laid this gem on us:

“Requests are a part of prayer, but they are not the heart of prayer.”

He further explained that the heart of prayer is a relationship – a sincere, singular commitment to a personal God who knows you and longs to be known.

This was paradigm-shifting because prayer, for the most part, had been nothing but a calling bell for my Cosmic Butler.
It’s usually my 911 line for a bruise all the way to a breakup. Yes, I do season my communication with the occasional pre-meal grace. Yes, I do thank him for that miraculous A.  But prayer is still optional communication. I need it when I need God.

Yes. God does want us to come to Him with our requests and desires. As a matter of fact, he’d rather have us to come to Him than anywhere else. But we diminish the function of prayer when we relegate it to a mere transaction. Check out what Aunty White had to say about prayer:

Prayer is the opening of the heart to God as to a friend. Not that it is necessary in order to make known to God what we are, but in order to enable us to receive Him. Prayer does not bring God down to us, but brings us up to Him” (SC, 93).

God doesn’t want to be used. He longs to be loved. I’ll do well in trying to remind myself of that daily. Today, did I talk to him when there was nothing for me to ask him? Did I take some time today to tell him how great He is just because? Did I talk to him as I do to a close friend?

I wonder how our marriages and relationships would fair if we only talked to our partners only when we need something from them.

2) Enjoy the privileges of the commitment while ignoring the responsibilities of it.

When I join a company, I am made privy to two things: My membership privileges and the company contract. I can enjoy these privileges as long as I’m a member of the company, but the moment my choices conflict with the company contract, I may potentially lose my privileges as well as my membership.

Enjoying the privileges of my company while ignoring its responsibilities is a sure way to get fired. Yet when it comes to my company and commitment to God, the same rules remarkably do not seem to apply.

The privileges of Christianity are many. We are called to enjoy gifts like grace, peace, community, purpose, strength, joy and eternal life among others. But while we do that, we are concurrently called to uphold the responsibilities of Christianity such as discipleship, love, sacrifice, service, and join in with the missio dei of seeking and saving the lost.

Unfortunately many of us want to enjoy the crown without bearing the cross.
We let Jesus do all the dirty work while we get to enjoy his spoils. The German theologian and activist Dietrich Bonhoeffer, referring to this as “cheap grace”, galvanized his sentiments with the following definition found in his epoch-making book, the cost of discipleship:

“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.” 

Have mercy.

Have I enjoyed the privileges of salvation while ignoring the responsibility to my Savior? How have I done that done that today?

Salvation is free but not cheap. The price tag is still high. What then should be our response to the One who paid it all?

3) Ask him to modify your behavior without transforming your life.

The overarching meta-narrative of scripture begins with man created in the image of God and ends with the complete restoration of that image in man where the old order of things has been replaced and transformed into a new one.

The apostle Paul mentions this new order in his letter to the Corinthians:

“if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature. The old things passed away, behold, new things have come.”

In order to effectuate this, he exhorts the church in Rome not to conform to the patterns of this world, but instead be transformed by the renewing of their minds.

Scripture is replete with references which convey the necessity of a total soul transformation. God seems to be asking more of his people because he wants to do more. And yet I still find myself asking him to change certain parts of my life not realizing that God is more interested in transforming all of it.

But is it wrong to ask God to give me more patience? Is it wrong to consult him for my weaknesses? I think not.  However, I think I’m missing the point when behavior modification takes precedence over a desire for life transformation.

The ultimate end of a relationship with God is God Himself. He wants us to see him face to face and to enjoy Him in an unadulterated atmosphere of holiness. This requires us to be changed and transformed into His likeness in order for us to withstand His glory in eternity.

Then what about our behaviors? When God transforms the life, behaviors are more than modified – they are repurposed.

These are three of the many ways I think I have abused my relationship with God. What about you? Have you found yourself in a similar or different situation? If you care to share, leave a comment below!

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!