Thursday, February 02, 2006

Chinese New Year, Conversations, Malacca and the Struggle to Love Others

The festive season is full of conversations, a lot of them purely polite talk to fill the silence in a gathering of strangers tied only by blood: the Hong Kong branch murmuring about offspring being caught in the tabloids with movie star plebs, bringing shame to the family; the Indonesian clan chattering about chauffeurs, blachan and world domination. Boring, but opportunities to further some relationships and build new ones (however tenuous) for gospel and salvation.

Yet best of all, after fulfilling Chinese New Year duties, right on that back of Ismaël Ferroukhi's Le Grande Voyage and Hayao Miyazaki-produced Only Yesterday, taking a bit of a road trip up the peninsula, thinking, discussing (with private Jack Johnson, Rach 2-3, Domine Deus from Vivaldi's Gloria and Echo & the Bunnymen earworms) the recent Hamas victory in the Palestinian elections, present-day Israel's part in God's salvation plan, narrative in evangelism, narrative in weekly Bible studies, Islam and whether the call for moderate/liberal Islamic scholars and teachers to refute false teachers would backfire when it is discovered that True Islam may not be a religion of peace.
Malaccan Sights
A short nap away, there were bowls of ais chendol dribbling with thick gula melaka, spicy sour nyona assam laksa, ayam rempah and mee siam, and icy honey-lime concoctions, sukiyaki virgins, Baskin-Robbins revisited, kaya toast, bubbly teh tarik, and alltoosoon boxes of good-bye dragon beard candy for the ride back.
Malaccan Food
But before that, the night was for sitting in the smoky air of sparklers, strings of red lanterns and bubbling pots of eggs in spices and tea-leaves, nursing cocktails, ears on a schizophrenic live act alternately crooning Louis Armstrong and screaming Bon Jovi, reading the Bible, John Chapman's "A Sinner's Guide to Holiness" and borrowed forgot-to-renew-my-subscription copies of The Briefing.
Malaccan Night
Then at one quiet moment in a foreign land, swatting mosquitoes at brekkie, love found me. For somewhere between the madness of bible studies and meeting-ups and crazy evangelistic parties, somewhere, love managed to get left behind. Not wilfully, nor hypocritically, nor purposefully. But inadvertently, by my sinfulness. But just as grace and love first found me, so grace ensured that I would be found by love again.

And the answer to that age-old struggle related (with a good bit of embarrassment) online by Christian bloggers and (with mumblings and red-facedness) offline within small prayer groups; that daily bloody battle to love those within our church family whom we cannot stand - those who lie and betray us, who hypocritically find favour with men and receive power and glory, who think themselves more "sorted" and godly and patronise us, who love themselves more than they love us, and those who just don't like us at all, people whose failures we snigger at (perhaps even with some guilt) inwardly and whose successes we grumble at vindictively and bitterly, became clear as day. And that sparkling answer (not in obiang neon-lights thankyou) was this:
For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)
It is the love of Christ for us, demonstrated by his sin-bearing death for us on the cross, that controls us (ESV) and compels us (NIV). Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all. Love so great, so abundant, so overflowing it cannot but spill into our lives and our other relationships.

So it is not that we force ourselves to become naïve, simple and credulous, nor that we ignore the facts of reality, but that we turn away from our navel-gazing attempts to love, look up to the cross, at the powerful blinding light of something so infinitely greater and better, such a glorious perfect love that overawes and overshadows all these incidents into petty inconsequential footnotes. It is not that these things don't happen, but it is that they just don't matter anymore.

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At February 02, 2006 8:36 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you know that there were at least 10 ARPCians in Malacca during CNY?

At February 02, 2006 8:48 am , Blogger kelvin said...

Also, do you realize that most of your paragraphs are sentences?

At February 02, 2006 11:25 am , Anonymous mee rebus said...

really? the paragraphs didn't read like they were sentences at all.... cool..... ;P

At February 03, 2006 12:05 am , Anonymous mee soto said...

Also, do you know you always hit the nail on the head?

At February 03, 2006 12:42 am , Anonymous Mee Siam said...

indeed tis true... as Chris spoke in his first sermon of 2006... loving others can inflict much pain but in the light of Christ and eternity... the hurt does not matter =) the answers do not come by searching deep within, but to lift your gaze to the truth of the gospel and the salvation He brings!

At February 03, 2006 5:38 pm , Anonymous mee rebus said...

mee soto, i second that! dunno how many times reading this site has hit me right between the eyes. i think my nose bridge got hole already! ;P

but alas, no how many times we get hit, we still keep forgetting and need reminders. so let's not stop reminding each other of the same truths over and over again! :-)

At February 04, 2006 12:47 am , Anonymous mee goreng said...

Ya i found many frens also read this blog.......=)

May i know wat every body finds struggle to luv in other person?

At February 04, 2006 1:00 pm , Anonymous meefedtothemax said...

shadow, thanks for this. i read it twice and then paused to think about it.

I think that it is far easier to concentrate on doing the do, going for bible study and service and many dinners with churchy-type friends than to love people truly with forgiveness, honesty, thoughtfulness, prayer and sacrifice.

Requires less energy, less thought, less repentence, less discipline to prevent us being wrapped up in ourselves. So it's easier. but what is important in the end?

p/s: gaah. my sentences tend to be paragraphs too!

At February 04, 2006 11:49 pm , Anonymous mee said...

not like i'm gay or anything-i just can't stand girls that throw themselves on anyone and everyone... thing?

a select few in church that are fun and entertaining to talk to, the rest are either bitches, drama queens, or sluts ... . It's disgusting...

What the fuck is up with 'giggling girls'? Whenever a hot guy passes them they're all "hehhehe" in that high-pitched annoying voice. I can not STAND it!!

And old single hags? They talk and talk about themselves and bore the shit out of everyone!

At February 05, 2006 11:11 am , Anonymous mee hoon said...

people like meefedtothemax who uses arrogant tones

people like mee who uses dirty speech

At February 06, 2006 11:02 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is meefedtothemax ' arrogant '? But I dont understand him/ her

Mee, why are you so angry about girls?

At February 06, 2006 12:13 pm , Blogger shadow said...

anonymous on 2 Feb: Wow! Didn't know that!

kelvin: Sorry, it must be too much NT Greek (no punctuation, see).

all the mee-s: Yeah, we strive to present each other hole-ly...err...holy in Christ. And while we strive together in our earthly bodies, there will surely be chafing and irritation. It's hard, but we continue trying to love and show grace to one another because of the unconditional love and undeserved grace already shown to us by God through Christ. :-)


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