Monday, September 21, 2009

INVISIBLE PEOPLE: Pondering the heart of Jesus

“We are racing toward the end of the world and have no plan of escape, but it is considered impolite to acknowledge that fact in public…” From the Betrayal of the West by Jacques Ellul

When I came across the quote above during a research, to be honest it made me laugh but sadly affirmed the condition of our world, our culture and other cultures that we interact with in this age of globalization. In the last couple of years we had been hit hard where it counts in the western world. The financial crises has unearthed our fragile existence and placed it on the platter "in your face" as the saying goes. All of a sudden there are people who had not been exposed to the life of our marginal society or had been easing their conscience by outsourcing social justice and watching such suffering on television; are now confronted by the sufferings in their own neighborhood and backyard. Our first instinct of course is not to really learn from this situation but to do damage control. This really means help me escape my consequences without changing my lifestyle. Our 2nd instinct is to be in denial that this would get worse. We have learned that unless we change the foundation of a weak building, no matter what kind of remodeling we do on the surface to make that building look good; it is to no avail. Cracks will continue to show up until eventually what is going on under the surface will collapse the building. Sadly for many of us we do not apply such realities to our lives.

Five years ago I went on a journey of rediscovering the root of my spirituality. It has been difficult to sort out through our western culture of consumerism, religion, political agendas and the commercialization of Jesus. It was a roller coaster journey that challenged the core of my belief system. There is a realization that the gospel I was preaching was filtered through western ideology and politics, for that matter my own religious concepts. But the same catalyst that took me into this journey is also transpiring all over the world. There is a wave of reawakening across the board and especially from the Gen X (Born between the years 1961 to 1981) and Gen Y (Born thereafter) culture. There are pockets of people that are not wanting to just live in the status quo, the 9 to 5 job, the slick German car, the pretty house in suburbia that is owed more than what it really cost. There is a search for truth and purpose in life more than accumulation. These generations are challenging the system built for comfort and saying I really want to see and do social justice not merely talk about it. It is a spiritual revolution that says."there is something in me that will not allow me to simply watch and observe, but it is compelling me to take action."

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me. Because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind. To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." Luke 4 18-19

I call the poor, the brokenhearted, the captives, the blind and the oppressed in our society as the invisible people. It is not a term of degradation nor is it meant to stereotype but it is actually a description that speaks more about how our society had learned the art of outsourcing even love. We had made them invisible even in our churches. We had learned to outsource important principles in our lives because we had gotten too busy for what is really important mainly relationships. We had outsourced parenthood to day cares and schools, our care for the widows and elders to the nursing homes, the homeless, the hungry, the addicts and those who are hurting to professionals. I quote the Life Model, "...when they (church) set aside monies and created programs for wounded people, those programs eventually got drained and died. But, when churches embraced and pulled wounded people into the center of strong families, a surprising phenomenon called "synergy" developed...they increase each other's effectiveness. People are energized to new levels in the church when the weak and the strong are combined."

Jesus saw the invisible people but not only did He see them, He pulled them into the center of His life. He adopted them, comforted them, healed their wounds, fed them and equipped them to love others. He set them free. It is this kind of love that propelled the first century church throughout the known world. The church pioneered most of the social work transforming cultures and society that today many of the secular non governmental organizations are patterned after. The 1st century church was bold and innovative unlike Christianity today that chose to draw the battle lines in politics. Christianity has become defensive skirmishing against the letter of the law instead of revolutionizing communities through self sacrificial love. Christianity is more known now as another religion rather than personal and supernatural. But the opportunity is set today to be Real Christians, not religious. To pioneer once again this love that transforms cultures instead of bickering against lawmakers. To see the invisible people in our churches, neighborhoods and cities. To love them as Jesus loved us. We need to ask ourselves do we really know the heart of Jesus?

"If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, "depart in peace be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works is dead."

James 2:15-17

Friday, July 11, 2008


We could hardly believe our ears! A friend surprised us with two tickets to go to New York for the 4th of July weekend! Not only that but he got us an apartment right on Broadway in Time Square! It was like a dream for my wife and I. Is it true? Pinch me! All expense paid trip to the big apple. My wife always dreamed of visiting New York, she has never been there but we could never have afforded it either. We are missionaries you see and as you know we live on a shoe string budget. It could not get any better than this, only God can do such a perfect, spontaneous gift like this. Believe it or not we really rested in New York of all places. We are not really big city folks, we like the quiet, small town feel and to be as far away from the bustling city life as possible is our idea of rest. Yet we are still young, filled with energy and to see New York, well that is another thing. We were energized by the city. The neon lights, giant bill boards in front of our apartment and the thousands of restaurants lining the streets, it is an experience like no other. We probably walked hundreds of miles and rode the subway everywhere. The sights, smell and sound of Manhattan cannot be described in words but can only be experienced. To make it even sweeter, we were treated to front row seats to two Broadway shows, we will remember this for the rest of our lives.

I have set this stage up for you not to glorify New York, but to tell you of an odd and paradoxical event. Believe it or not New York had become a place of soul searching for me. I found once again the simplicity of God in my life. It showed me what I really wanted and not. I believe my most favorite moment was visiting Time Square Church. As I walked in their well preserved broadway theater converted sanctuary, I felt the awesome presence of God. I was not able to contain myself and tears began running down my cheeks as I felt God's arms embracing me. The message was right on time, it was about giving away our testimony no matter how small we may think it is so that others may come to the freedom that God had set for us through Jesus. It was about not looking at our limited abilities or capacities but trusting God and knowing it is God who does the work and all we have to do is be obedient. Oddly enough, we were at the epicenter of world culture and entertainment, but the only thing I wanted the most is to be in the presence of God. We enjoyed New York, I talked so much with my wife and really got to rest and spent time together. Most of all we experienced the lights, shows and what money can buy, but we quickly realized we were happy. Happy to live the simple life God has given us while constantly giving of ourselves so that people would know this freedom. New York was nice and all that, but what God confirmed in me is even better. What He gives my wife and I daily such as peace, freedom, love, compassion, goodness, family and simplicity of life without complications cannot compare to what the world can offer. So you could really say I found myself in New York, I found out with all what the world can offer, I still want my simple life with Jesus and the privilege of doing His will. In my case, to bring drug addicts and alcoholics to the hope I now have.