“You are not like Jesus. I do not see the love of Jesus in you. There is some contradiction between what the Bible says a Christian ought to be and what you are like. You do not exhibit the grace of God and you are not accepting your neighbors as Jesus did.” This is the accusation concerning my life.
There was a time in my life when I was ignorant and insensitive to this accusation. I didn’t know what unconditional love, acceptance and grace meant. I didn’t understand why Jesus died on the cross and why His Father in heaven sent Him to die. Over the last decade and a half, as I searched the Scriptures, I found Jesus. Jesus through His life, defined what unconditional love, grace, forgiveness and acceptance means. Since then all I do is to mold my life after Him. To be honest, I am still learning about Him. There is so much about Him that I can’t just grasp at once. This increased knowledge of Jesus and His love made me very sensitive to the above accusation that I am not like Jesus. The more I look at Jesus, the more clearly I see my true self. My heart is full of hatred, rejection and anger. I am much more aware of my condition than my dear accusers see in me. I wish my accusers look into my heart and experience my pain. It is depressing!
You could ask why I don’t try. I tried sincerely and I am still trying. Truth is, I do not have what it takes to be like Jesus. But this I know, I am not the same person I was a decade and a half ago. There is a change in me that I myself and others around me notice. I was able to forgive and love those that hurt me. I was able to give up prejudice and treat everyone as dear child of God. I learned to respect rules and authorities and view them as they are in place for my protection but not to restrict my freedom. I was able to give up things that hurt my body and learn things that give me good health. My outlook in life changed. I experience joy, peace and love. I made some progress but still, I am not like Jesus.
Do I need more willpower? My willpower alone is not enough to turn me into a saint. My will utterly lacks what it takes to love someone unconditionally. Honestly, my will stands no chance. It’s like running fast enough on my two feet to reach the escape velocity of 7 miles per second to overcome earth’s gravitational force and escape into space. It’s comical.
If then, should I give up my fight? Knowing how beautiful Jesus is, I can’t be satisfied being myself. I do not like myself anymore because there is nothing worth in me to love myself. It’s a hard place to be. I can’t explain it with words. Every true Christian knows this experience. Apostle Paul described this experience in Romans 7: 15 (NASB) “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.”
When Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be born again, Nicodemus replied with a question, “How can this be?” (John 3:9). Jesus pointed Nicodemus to Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and said this in John 3:16 (NASB) “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” I didn’t quite understand it until recently when I learned about a social psychological concept called “looking glass self” created by Charles Horton Cooley in 1902. This concept states that we become what the most important person in our life (father, mother, wife, husband, boss, or teacher) thinks we are. According to this concept, it is difficult to act differently from how a person thinks he or she is usually perceived to be.
This world perceives me as my dear accusers do. I could fight that perception for a while but eventually I give up and become like what my dear accusers think of me. But if I perceive what God thinks of me, and see myself as God sees me, then I would be different. God thinks that I am His beloved Child worth sacrificing His one and only Son for. Jesus knew that I am a sinner and a big disappointment, yet He died for me because He looks at me not as a sinner but what I could become. That is why God withheld nothing of His own to help me. Romans 8: 32 (NASB) says “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” No human can love me like the way Jesus does. I admit that I have some amazing individuals in my life that show glimpses of Jesus’s love. But the fact is, no human is as loving as Jesus is and every one of us is broken in some ways. That is why we needed a savior to behold and be changed like Him. That is what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NASB) “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”
Coming back to my dear accusers, it is easy to see why a Christian is not like Christ. But once you take that journey to be like Jesus, you will realize the pain a Christian goes through and the change he experiences daily. You will realize your true self. You will realize how insignificant your willpower is and cry for divine help like the way I do now. At that time, you will not accuse me but empathize with me. Until then, I must journey on turning my eyes upon Jesus. Because this is the only way I could perceive you as Jesus does and break this cycle of ungrace.
M. Scott Peck, 1978, The Road Less Traveled.
Awakened in panic, I realized that it was just a nightmare. The dream was about my unknown future - fear of possible failure, and humiliation! Should fear of failure engulf me when God is with me? So far, the Lord God Almighty has carefully orchestrated every step of my life, and I have experienced His marvelous leading over and over again. He has granted me strength to face the future, discernment to focus on areas that require change, compassion to empathize with those that have failed, and a longing to calm those who are in desperate need.
In the past, failures have offered me victories. When God is with me, I fear no evil. Consider Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. Mark 14: 36 and he said, `Abba, Father; all things are possible to Thee; make this cup pass from me; but, not what I will, but what Thou.’ It is a prayer of desperation. It teaches us three things.
1) Jesus believed that His Father is able to do all things.
2) Jesus knew that His Father is willing to help Him.
3) Jesus surrendered His will to the will of the Father.
A careful study of this prayer helps us to understand that Jesus did not pray for deliverance from crucifixion, rather that the effects of the cup will not last forever and He be resurrected.
With hope and trust in Jesus, I knelt down, desperately seeking God for an assurance that He will bless me again. I modeled my prayer after Jesus’ prayer.
I know everything is possible for You. You are able to help me succeed. If it is Your will, open doors and hold my hand. Teach me to acknowledge You and Your ways. However, if it is Your will that I should experience failure for reasons that cannot be comprehended by me now, then give me strength to face it, and let me walk with You through it. Grant my family, friends and society the kindness and love to accept me despite my failures. May Your will prevail, not mine.
As I finished my prayer, my heart was filled with peace. I trusted Him with all my heart. I have the blessed assurance that He will direct my paths according to His will and give me the power to overcome failures. KK
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you”. (Matthew 6:33)
Coming to America as an international student is both promising and daunting. Hollywood portrayal of the United States fades away and reality vividly sets in. A feeling of emptiness endures for family and friends are across the ocean, forcing one to focus on the sole purpose of being in America—Studies —“I gotta go, I am busy” is the cry of a lonely international university student in his/her new environment. During the transitional period, spiritual consciousness becomes dim.
A quick prayer is mumbled, “God you understand what I am going through, right.” Random verses are read from the Bible hurriedly. Or reading of the scripture is resorted to an occasional Sabbath. Eventually God becomes a second priority. But God’s promise to us is when His kingdom and righteousness are sought first, everything else will be added. What does “seeking His kingdom and righteousness” mean to a university student?
Daniel and his three friends were international students in Babylon not by choice but by circumstances. Their survival in a foreign country was wholly dependent on their educational achievement. How did they achieve scholarship? They had God as their first priority. These four Jewish slaves did not neglect worship. They refused to eat the royal food, depended on pulses and water for their health and strength. They refused to worship king. God made them ten times wiser than all others in class (Daniel 1:20).
Joseph was another international student. He was sold by his brothers, imprisoned by his master for escaping vile. All through this time of despair, God was his companion and his first priority. God blessed him with wisdom while serving Potiphar and in prison. Pharaoh himself admitted that there is none wiser than Joseph in his kingdom and made Joseph second in his kingdom (Genesis 41: 39, 40).
These young men in Bible times are a constant reminder of how God blesses who are faithful to Him. As young adults they knew, “A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven” (John 3:27) and“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17). Nothing is gained by our effort and greatness. Thus “Trust in the LORD” How? …with all your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3: 5, 6). God becomes our decision-making partner in academic life—the choice of higher learning and career path. The Apostle Paul reminds us that “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). God the Father gave up His Son for us because He loves us more than His own Son. Our heavenly father knows our needs. He will freely give us all things when we first seek the kingdom of God. KK