Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Are We Human? Or Are We Dancer(s)? Luke 12

Blur of a weekend. In a good way. Much fellowship feat. lives lived for the Kingdom.

Pasta Waraku, Novena Square 2Spinelli's, Novena Square 2
Ex-DG mates: Pasta Waraku at Square 2, coffee and cake at Spinelli's. Career changes, running one's own business, cats with FIV and leukemia and legalistic Cat Welfare people, hen and stag party stories, trials of parenthood, innate sinfulness of children, the discipline of pre-schoolers.

Pasta Waraku
#01-07 Novena Square 2
Tel: 6397 6266

The Vista, Playground @ Big Splash, East Coast Park
Some mates I: dry and tasteless duck confit at The Vista Bistro, Children's Church needs, Gemuk Girls with alternate paths, put in danger of DVT by Necessary Stage Theatre seats, feedback session feat. Generation Gaps Under Lee Dynasty, being educated by various nice people about postmodernity in local theatre, getting carsick in Singapore! – the shame.

The Vista Bistro
Blk F #01-27
902 East Coast Parkway
Playground @ Big Splash

Timbre @ Old School, Mount SophiaPizza, Timbre @ Old School, Mount Sophia
Some mates II: Timbre @ Old School, Soulitude: Lily and Roy Dragon, recovering from carsickness thanks to good roasted duck and Timbre hawaiian pizzas, strawberry bellinis and virgin/non-virgin pina coladas, requesting the old skool Moon rep Mah Heart (月亮代表我的心), encouraging mates for life, discouragements and encouragements of DGs, greatest encouragement of the early hours of Sunday: choosing to specialize in Large Animals for mission opportunities.

Timbre @ Old School
11A Mount Sophia
Singapore 228465
Tel: 6338 0800

Thai Noodle House, CoronationReal Life Scrabble!
Some other mates: post-service lunch at Thai Noodle House, long-lasting fellowship centered on God's word, relocating, friends scattered over continents working towards a common goal, first real-life Scrabble game evah!, 6-point lead beginner's victory.

Thai Noodle House
5 Coronation Road
#01-03 Coronation Arcade
Tel: 6467 0104

Beef Stew, Picotin, Horse CityMudsliding, Slope Outside Rider's Lodge, Horse City
Yet other mates: Horsecity, pony rides!, Gallop Stable, a pretty pony eager to be fed, beef stew and cake at Picotin, boules!, mudslides!, Boys & Girls Brigade ministry challenges, the messiness of saved sinners dealing with saved sinners still sinning, DG difficulties being opportunities for growth and to put into practice easily-mouthed doctrines, even greater dependence of God who alone is sovereign and trustworthy.

Horse City
100 Turf Club Road
Singapore 287992
Tel: 6877 1191

Gallop Stable
Horse City
100 Turf Club Road
Singapore 287992

Luke 12:13 - 40 begins with an audience member requesting for justice concerning his inheritance, implying ta violation of his legal rights to his dead father's property (Luke 12:13). Apparently, it was quite fashionable in those days to go to a respected teacher or rabbi for a legal ruling on all sorts of matters. Like a Meet-The-People Session but with more clout.

Speculation on the details of the man's case is unnecessary. The point is that not only does Jesus refuse to arbitrate (does not bode well for WWJD about the "social gospel"), he instead rebukes the outraged petitioner by warning him and the crowd against all kinds of greed (Luke 12:14 – 21). "For one's life does not consist in the abundance of one's possessions" (Luke 12:15). And Jesus proceeds to explain this with a parable.

The rich man in Jesus' parable is in a happy situation: a storage problem caused by an abundant harvest (Luke 12:16 - 18). No comment is made specifically about his wealth or his supernormal profit. Again, speculation about whether the man got rich by honest or dishonest means is unnecessary. As is tsk-ing and tut-ing over his lack of charity. The comment at the end of the parable makes it clear that the man's great folly is that he ignores God, forgets his vulnerability to death and neglects to prepare for life after death. He makes plans as if he were the master of his own life. He thinks himself a self-made, self-sufficient man. His whole being is so settled on this world that he finds his security in an abundance of temporal tchotchkes.

Singapore's favourite maverick speculator, Oei Hong Leong, was quoted as saying, as he donated 1 million AIG shares to The Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy,"My church friend told me it was a sin to die rich." This is not quite what Jesus is saying here. To judge sinfulness based on a wealth/poverty scale is still to have one's mind concerned about the things of this life.

(Quite a few people point out the interesting parallel with Paul's 1 Corinthian 7:29 – 31 where Paul discusses marriage and singleness and sex. Paul does not mean that the things of this world are not to be used and enjoyed. It is the attachment to this present world and being preoccupied with our abundance or our lack in this world rather than God's kingdom that is the issue.)

If the problem with the rich landowner is that he is a fool (a "fool" being biblically one who says there is no God) for laying up treasure for himself that will be enjoyed by other people upon his unfortunate and sudden death (Luke 12:20 - 21), then the right response would be to be rich towards God (Luke 12:21), to lay up treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys (Luke 12:33).

And "where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Luke 12:34). Very few people seek the treasure of this world with the aim, as the cartoon caricature of a greedy stingy Scrouge would have it, of having rows and columns of shiny neatly-stacked gold bars to admire. Our aims are far more mundane and it would seem, reasonable and entry-level: the first few strata of Maslow's hierarchy of needs – water to drink, food in the stomach, a roof over our heads, friends, the ability to provide for our loved ones.

Jesus tells his disciples that they should be ashamed of being worried about lacking these things. As if they were of the world and did not know God (Luke 12:30)! As if they were the masters of their own lives and if they didn't make sure they had these things, no one would.

Anyone who knows God would know that he alone created and sustains the entire universe. Nothing escapes his attention. He personally cares for the world, down to the most minor detail. How do the scavenging ravens that neither sow nor reap or store up food for themselves survive? Well, if one knows God, then one would know that it is God who feeds them (Luke 12:24). The lilies that really don't do any toiling nor spinning but yet are clothed in beauty? Why, who else but God is behind that as well (Luke 12:27).

And if humans are more precious to God than the scavenging ravens (Luke 12:24) and are meant to have relationship with God for a far longer time than the lifespan of a bunch of lilies (Luke 12:28), how much more will God feed and clothe his children?

God alone knows everything about everyone. Of course he knows our needs (Luke 12:30) – he created us that way. In any case, we're not in control of the world but God is. We're not even in control of our own lives. Can we even do a piddling little thing like adding an hour to our lives? (Luke 12:25 - 26) Jesus asks in grand Job-ian can-you-put-the-Leviathan-on-a-leash-for-your-little-girls form (Job 41:5). No? Well then why do we think we can control anything else?

How dare we worry about our basic necessities as if we were God, in-charge of the world and our lives? How dare we insult God by worrying about starving or nakedness as if God does not know what is going on in his creation nor care about it (Luke 12:28b)? The Father of the children of God is more than happy to give them the kingdom (Luke 12:32). All they need to do is to seek it (Luke 12:31) – to make their calling sure, to expend the eager energy that the world expends running after temporal things on eternal things. God knows how to take care of us.

Who do we really think is in charge of our world? Ourselves or God?

What do we really think is in control of our lives (and when they end)? Ourselves or God?

What do we really think of God? Impotent, slightly ignorant, mean and uncaring?

What are we labouring after in our lives, thoughts, words, deeds? Deep damnation or God's kingdom? There are only 2 endings.

Am grateful for the fellowship of saints thronging the narrow way to the latter. Humans not dancers; living out their divine design, not puppets of the world.



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