Learning about what Jesus did in classroom is much easier than living it out. It is so easy to write an essay about what God stuff and discuss about what being a good Christian means. But if we cannot live it out, what is the point? Today I was confronted with a harsh reality that perhaps I am a hypocrite. Going through a bible college does not make me a better Christian. Yes, I am equipped with knowledge. I am more theologically sound. Yet what God is really after is not only what I know but how it is expressed in my life.
There is a neighbor who has come knocking on our door a few times. He calls himself a prophet. This man is a local and always bubbly and smiling. He told us that he was raised in a Catholic home. For some reasons, his choice in life has led him into the path of alcoholism. Joel and I are both aware of this but we also know that he is harmless. The last time he came over, Joel took him out to a nearby shop to get some food because he had no money. This evening while we were having dinner with our bible study group, he knocked on our door. Joel asked if he wanted to join the dinner with us (instead of taking cash) but he insisted that he needed to borrow some money. Since we have been on a good standing, we lent him the money without prying. However, while we were talking, I noticed that he was slurring and a bit too friendly to everyone (although my husband argues that he is always like this). So after he left, I asked my friend if he was drunk, to which the reply was yes. That was when I began to realize that maybe he was on his way to buy alcohol.
(Before I go any further, I need to tell you that I am against alcohol addiction. Yes, I occasionally have a bottle of beer or a glass of wine, but I always make sure that I do not go beyond my limit. My view is that it is okay to drink as a Christian. However, I do not think it is okay for us to drink to the point where we cannot control ourselves. Though I have not been exposed to a lot of alcoholics in my life, I know the deadly consequence that comes with over-drinking.)
I was horrified when I realized that perhaps we might give the prophet the reason to drink more. I know that with or without us, he would find a way to get more drink somehow. But it feels worse when you could be that person who might encourage it. My fear became a reality when he came back to our house, took a can out and drank it. Granted, Joel gave him the permission to drink because he misinterpreted his intention. My husband thought he was going to drink it at home before he came back to join the study.
Long story short, we finished the bible study and sent everyone home. When the house was quiet, I was shaking like a leaf, not with fear but with anger. I was surprised to find myself in such state. I was so angry that I had to go for a walk, dragging my poor husband along with me because it was getting dark outside. This is the similar shaking I used to have when I visited children in a bamboo hut with nothing much to protect them or when I interviewed a girl who was abused when she was 8 years old. It is not our neighbor or even Joel that I was angry about. It is this wretched sin labeled as “alcoholism” that enraged me.
But my dilemma is – do I let myself become so angry that I turn our neighbor away the next time he comes around? I must admit that my carnal instinct is to let him go. Why care for the people who do not even care about themselves? Why do we even bother showing our love constantly when he might wake up not remembering the next day? The pure and simple answer is this – because Jesus cares. It is not about us being recognized but about Jesus being glorified.
At the heart of this issue is our brokenness. This is why God sent Jesus into this world – to bring healing and restoration to this place that is so full of selfishness and pain. Who am I to turn away one of God’s children? But oh, how I struggle! I struggle because I know better but I still cannot live out my faith the way I have written in my essay – to love the poor, to embrace the marginalized and to accept all kinds of sinners. My self-righteousness is screaming at me and saying that these people do not deserve a place in my life!
Unfortunately, Jesus’ love goes beyond our comfort zone. He did not stop loving and pursuing God’s plan even when he was being betrayed or beaten to death. This is where my struggle lies – I am willing to serve God as long as it suits me. But God has brought Joel into my life to tell me that this is not the way! Unlike me, my husband has a natural gift to embrace people of all kinds and from all backgrounds. It is difficult to chew when I realized that I am no different from other Christians whom I judged before. My love is limited.
The good news is – God never gives up on his people. Jesus’ sacrifice makes it possible for me to be called God’s child even though I do not deserve it. We deserve to be punished but he put it all on his Son’s shoulders. We do not deserve this life but God has given it to us anyway. Therefore, this is a higher calling – to love one another just as he first loved us.