Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Of Varicose Veins, Wandering Jews, Investment Portfolios and Steak Sandwiches (Philippians 3:1-11)

At a reunion of old mates, it was obvious that the only thing we had in common was merely a shared history. After those years together, decision after decision at crossroads led us well along divergent paths that split and branched. Again. And again, like the advancing spread of tiny varicose veins on a yellowed obese thigh. Until we seemed strangers. And perhaps we were.

The involuntary backward glance at past life decisions. What if we had the chance to apply the benefit of hindsight of our years? What if we were the Wandering Jew of lore who returns books to the British Library that are 113 years overdue, (sorry about that mate)? Or had a thousand lives to live, a nine hundred and ninety-nine opportunities to start afresh yet always retaining memories and aggregated maturity of the previous ones?

Toads in Holes
Would we keep choosing to follow Christ as we did in this life? And more importantly, would God keep choosing us just as he has called us his own in this life?

This is where the doctrine of God's sovereignty in election of the saints and the concrete certainty of his predestination knocks on the doors of its professed fans, only to find that many of them really think that their salvation is a great bit of luck: lucky that someone happened to leave Mark's Gospel in the train, lucky that they happened to be born in a Christian family, lucky that the right sort of advice came along when they were going through a tough patch. But maybe we won't be so lucky next time.

Sunday Chillout Spot, St. Andrew's Cathedral, Singapore
And we who claim to love God more than anything else in the world, if we had a thousand lives to live, do we think we would tire of spending every single one of them with Him? Or all eternity for that matter?

But the comfort of Philippians is two-fold: if we are doubtful of our own stamina for the long haul, the comfort is this - that is our salvation ultimately God's work. He who began a good work in us will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). Even as we are instructed and warned to keep obeying and to keep standing firm (see Steak Sandwich below), it is God who works in us, both to will and to work for his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13), so we obey and stand firm.

So the judaisers (the "dogs" and "evildoers") were painfully mistaken to think that they were able to attain a right relationship with God with anything less anything less than the divine work of God himself. Sadly, the things of the flawed flesh: seemingly obedience to the letter of old testament laws, impeccable religious pedigree, demonstration of extreme zealousness (sorry suicide bombers) were insufficient for salvation (Philippians 3:2-4a).

If the hard work of mere humans was enough, Paul would have been more on the bill than Gates (Philippians 3:4b-6). But he realised that his bluechip portfolio in which he had placed all his money, funds for food and shelter and medical bills for retirement, was really mere penny stock (Philippians 3:7). Actually, compared to the rocksolid, infinitely high-return investment that is Jesus, Paul might as well have given his personal guarantee to pay out on all mortgage-backed security defaults in the U.S. from 2007-2008 (Philippians 3:8).

But Paul isn't just warning people away from junk stock, he is also aggressively marketing bullion - the wonder of the returns of investing in Jesus: a relationship with him, righteousness that can only come from faith, resurrection to (Philipians 3:8-11).

Eton Mess, Oriole Cafe & Bar
So the comfort to the fear that eternity will be a bit trying for those with short attention spans (relative with eternity, what wouldn't be short?) is the immense attractiveness of spending forever with a person who is innately lovely and whom we were made to adore, and with whom, in this long engagement, we would be most pleased to partner - in suffering and in death (Philippians 3:11).

These things, this obsession with Christ and his work, will keep us safe till the day of Christ, (and beyond) whether we live one lives or many. (Wisely, God has ordained that we will live only one life then face judgement, which is an ultra enough marathon!)

(Arguably, boringness is subjective since certain people are able to eat the same thing for dinner every week:

Curry Wok Set
Monday dinners at Curry Wok - kong bak, curry chicken and chup chye

Ayam Bakar
Wednesday dinners at Novena - solid ayam bakar and tempeh

Waiting for MetroAsia at The Rabbit Hole, Dempsey
but get depressivelyandsuicidally bored when made to wait at The Rabbit Hole for Metro Area to start.)

Steak Sandwich
Dry-aged hida steak sandwich with crumbled blue cheese and onion caramelised with balsamic vinegar:
1:27, 4:1 - standing firm
1:27 (alternate translation), 3:20 - heavenly citizenship
1:27, 2:1-5, 3:19 - mind focus
1:28, 3:19 - destruction of opponents/enemies/wrong-minded
2:12-30, 3:12-17 - instructions for tough workout, examples of gym bunnies Timothy and Epaphroditus
3:1-11 - righteousness through faith in Christ not through flesh

Oriole Cafe & Bar, Pan Pacific Suites, SingaporeChilli Chocolate Mocha and Chocolate Fudge, Oriole Cafe & Bar
Oriole Cafe & Bar
96 Somerset Road, #01-01
Pan Pacific Serviced Suites
Singapore
Will return for the chilli chocolate mocha and dense chocolate fudge.

Curry Wok
5 Coronation Road #01-04
Coronation Arcade
Singapore

Spice Kitchen Indonesian stall
Kopitiam
Velocity @ Novena Square

The Rabbit Hole, The White Rabbit
39C Harding Road
Singapore

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