Thursday, May 31, 2007

An attempt to share the faith in contemporary setting

I am writing this short article as an attempt to relate the Christian faith to the non-Christians in the contemporary setting. As such, I will be tapping on some scenes in Spiderman 3, some concepts from the book "The Story We Find Ourselves In: Further Adventures of a New Kind of Christian" by Brian D. McLaren and using a non-conventional approach to convey the Christian faith. There are two main themes below: reconciliation with God and to partake in God's big story. I am not sure what kind of impact the content below will create, so I will appreciate it if you could feedback to me. Any other form of sharing is also welcomed.


In Spiderman 3, I am most impressed by Harry Osborn, who sacrifices his life to save Peter Parker from the fatal attack of Eddie Brock Jr. I am also touched by the need of Macko, the Sandman, to seek forgiveness from Peter Parker before he can really forgive himself for killing his uncle, Ben Parker many years ago. This reminds me of the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross two thousand years ago in order to reconcile us back to God our Creator and Redeemer. In Spiderman 3, it is in the sacrificial death of Harry Osborn that Peter Parker is fully reconciled back to his good old friend. Similarly, in the history between God and human, it is the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ that reconciles us back to God. But, what is it that we have done which require reconciliation and why would such reconciliation demands a sacrificial death of Jesus Christ? How do our individuals' life story interweave with God?

In the beginning when God created the world, everything was good. Human beings who are made in the image of God are the climax in the creation story. In the story told by the Jews to their descendants, they recount how chaos and disorder enter the world through human representatives, Adam and Eve. What Adam and Eve had done was to alienate themselves away from God, to alienate themselves from each other and from their own selves. When we alienate ourselves from our Creator, we start to disregard the boundary and limitation set by the Creator and we believe in our supreme authority to do anything that we want. Concurrently, we alienate ourselves from others and we treat them as an object instead of human being made in the pristine image of God. On top of that, we even alienate from our very selves and this becomes an inner turmoil and conflict within us. How many times do we seek our self-actualization at the expense our own conscience, at our own convenience to the extent that we know what is right and yet did not fulfil it?

If your own child or someone who you love becomes more selfish and committed dishonourable act, naturally you will feel hurt and pain. The pain and hurt are more intensive if he whom you trust so much turns against you. Whenever we refuse to accept the invitation to be reconciled back to God; whenever we inflict agony and suffering in any form onto another human being; whenever we know what is good and yet refuse to partake in it, we cause pain and hurt to God our heavenly Father. God wants to have a relationship with us, but we are too stubborn to turn to Him. We keep inflicting pains and damages to Him by going against His utmost good will for us. We alienate ourselves from Him, from one another and from our very own self; we destroy His creation by betraying ourselves, by exploiting other people and the environment. Instead of entering into a personal relationship with the rest of the creations, we objectify them and capitalize them for our own benefits. This nature is inherent in all of us!

How can we say sorry to someone whom we have caused hurt and agony? By apologizing profusely, by buying gifts and cards to appease the person’s hurt and anger or by some acts that seek to convince her that we are truly repentant and would sincerely want to be reconciled back. But how about seeking the forgiveness of God? As God is the wholly Other, or the transcendent Being who is beyond our imagination and our capacity to comprehend and the essential ground of our own being and existence, we can only seek forgiveness on His own terms and not ours! We know that we are not able to pay the penalties for the wrongs that we have perpetrated against Him and that Jesus Christ took on the penalties on Himself for all of us, on the cross two thousand years ago. It is only in Jesus Christ that the righteousness of God and the love of God are fully met. It is only on this condition laid down by God and there is no other! It is through and in Jesus Christ that God is able to forgive our trespasses and to be reconciled back to Him and to know Him as whom He has revealed Himself to be. It is similar to someone, for e.g. my wife, whom I want to know more about. I don’t want to know her through another person; I want to know her personally. But if I don’t even have a personal relationship with her in the first place, how could I know her personally? It is the same with God. If we don’t have a personal relationship with Him, how can we know Him personally? We could hear about Him through other Christians’ description of Him, we could know about Him intellectually by studying all the intellectual arguments about Him, but we won’t have a personal relationship with Him. To know Him personally, we must be reconciled back to Him through Jesus Christ and to know Him as He has revealed Himself to us through the Bible and through His creation.

All of us have a story, a story of our own lives. This universe has a story too. The universe is called out from nothing to something. The creator of this time, space universe whom we called God weave a big story for us to partake in. It is a story that is gradually unfolding. When we pass out of this time dimension, it is not the end of our existence. God retains the memory of everyone at every moment. The past is never lost, it is all remembered, all kept in God's memory. There is a point in the future when the composite of ourselves through our whole lifetime are all gathered together in God's presence, consummated, summed up, and gathered in the mind and heart of God. All the momentary members of our life story, the 'me' of a second ago, the 'me' now, the 'me' that I will be in a second – all these members will be remembered, reunited, in God's memory. The universe that God unleashed at the beginning has run free across the field of time, and it arrives at God in the future. Everything comes home, where everything good and beautiful and true belongs. (Adapted from The Story we find ourselves in).

When we are reconciled back to God; when we continue to seek our self-actualization within the web of personal relationships with God and with His creation; when we continue to partake in the big story God has for us; then, when we meet Him face to face one day, I could image Him to say:

"Well done! You have lived well! You helped the story advance toward my creative dreams. You fed the hungry, clothed the naked, welcomed in the lonely, visited the prisoners, shared your bread with the poor. Wherever you went, you contributed love and peace, generosity and truth, courage and sacrifice, self-control and justice, faithfulness and kindness. You enriched the story, enhanced its beauty and drama and nobility. You have become someone good and beautiful and true. Your unique, creative contributions will never be forgotten, and even the smallest act of kindness will be eternally celebrated, rewarded. After naming and forgiving and forgetting your many faults and failures, I see so much substance to your character, so much to cherish, so much of value, and it will now be set free, given a new beginning in my new creation. You have an eternal place in my story! You have been harvested from this creation, and now you will enter into the joy of the new creation!" (Adapted from The Story we find ourselves in).

Would you want to know more about the Christian faith? Would you like to be reconciled back to God? Would you yearn to partake in the big story God has weaved for all of us?

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