All the World's a Classroom
Isn’t is a wonder that it doesn’t take 20/20 vision, glasses, or contact lenses to notice the tiny faults in other people? Out of all the faults ever existed in the universe, the hardest ones to see are my own.
There’s this really wise saying that asks a cute question, Why do you worry at the speck in your friend’s eye, while there’s a log in your own eye? It’s a good question, wouldn’t you say? Consider the irony of the person who has the log in his eye offering help to remove the speck in the other person’s eye. (Sounds familiar, anyone?) Naturally, the counsel goes something like this, Why don’t you first remove the log in your eye, then you can see clearer to deal with the speck. (Duh!)
A story was told of a king, a generally good one, who did something terrible. (Yes, normal, good people can do terrible things.) He got hooked on a lady, and he took her to his chamber. Problem was, she was married. To one of his captains no less.
To make matters worse, she got pregnant. So to hide his deeds, the king called the captain home from the battlefield and told him to rest and go home to his wife. But the good man refused, because he felt wrong being home while his compatriots fought in war. So the king arranged that the captain returned to the forefront of the battle, to essentially ensure his death. Terrible, I know.
In came a trusted advisor of the king, the Rebuker. He told the king a tale of a rich man and a poor man. The rich man owned many sheep and cattle, but the poor one, only a little lamb, which he took care tenderly over the years. One day the rich man decided to party, and instead of taking one of his flocks, he went to the poor man, took his lamb, and killed it for his feast.
The king was outraged by this injustice. He said, “That rich man deserved to die!”
The Rebuker’s next words must be really piercing. He said to the king, “You are that man.”
At the end of the story, the king was in horror when he realized what he did, who he was. But the interesting thing was his end was better than the ending he would have given to the rich man in the story; he was ready to kill the rich man.
Isn’t it a wonder that we can be harsher to others’ faults when we are blinded by our own? It really is a good idea to remove the log in our eyes first, before we deal with others’ specks. Perhaps a few of us really need to be good surgeons to help remove those specks. But what likely would happen is, when we remove the log in our eyes, the specks disappear too.
Year in Review, part 3.
Because I read a lot last year, I could write a lot. I had a personal target on the number of blog hits, and thanks to the endorsement of some popular friends, I surpassed that target by a few hundreds.
I write to clarify my own thought process. This blog, for example, is a repository of random reflections, and serves as a personal record of life events, sort of speak. I’m always thrilled when people can resonate with what I write—an added bonus, in my estimation.
I did two series in 2012 that I thought were definitive in terms of my worldview and perspective. One was on humanity, on being human, and being a global citizen, titled “A Child of All Nations,” and the other was a series of personal testimonies and how I perceived my life thus far, “This is My Story”. I was proud of these series, not because they were groundbreaking or anything, but because they represented the culmination of thought processes that had been simmering for a while. The posts associated with the two series are listed here.
A Child of All Nations
This is My Story
And finally, the one I was most excited about was…
What I’ve observed in this writing experience is that the more personal I make the piece, the more popular it tends to be. Which is a bit strange for me, since I’d rather people be interested in my thoughts than in my life.
So I was particularly happy that The Education of Jesus Christ was the most popular post last year, again thanks to friends’ endorsement, because it encapsulated some of the most mind-blowing things I had reflected upon. The post was not about me; it was about Jesus.
2012 was a good blogging year.
Before Men and Angels, part 1
Thoughts from reading the Conflict of the Ages (COTA) series. Join the COTA in a Year reading group on Facebook.
In the opening chapter of the series, Why Was Sin Permitted, the stage for the controversy between good and evil is set. In the face of evil and rebellion, whose origin is mysterious, God does something that is simply baffling and perplexing.
God could employ only such means as were consistent with truth and righteousness. Satan could use what God could not—flattery and deceit. He had sought to falsify the word of God and had misrepresented His plan of government, claiming that God was not just in imposing laws upon the angels; that in requiring submission and obedience from His creatures, He was seeking merely the exaltation of Himself. Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 42.
Satan accuses God of injustice and self-exaltation, and the apparatus of evil is more diverse than the apparatus of goodness. Satan makes claims that falsify God’s word. He makes statements that contradict what God says. As a result:
It was therefore necessary to demonstrate before the inhabitants of heaven, and of all the worlds, that God’s government is just, His law perfect. Satan had made it appear that he himself was seeking to promote the good of the universe. The true character of the usurper and his real object must be understood by all. He must have time to manifest himself by his wicked works. Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 42.
The incredible unfairness of the situation is troubling. One accusation, and God has to suffer through this thousands-of-years-long play, this elaborate experimentation with sin that costs Him dearly. The accusation is easy, the defense is long and costly.
Yet the greater wonder to me is that God deems it necessary to “demonstrate before the inhabitants of heaven, and of all the worlds, that [His] government is just, His law perfect.” Why?
Out of all the options to handle rebellion, including ignoring it, quieting it, taking a hands-off approach and letting everyone figure out who’s right, God chooses the one option where He ultimately pays for Satan’s rebellion (and subsequently, the sin of mankind)… And the story hasn’t ended! We are still in the middle of this controversy; God is still in the middle of this demonstration process. I do not understand this, but I do not question that this incomprehensible wisdom behind God’s decision is the highest kind there is.
In the face of Satan’s (verbal) accusations, God takes it upon Himself to demonstrate, by words and action, over a long period of time, the falsity of His opponent. God responds to His creation; He is not unaffected by sin and rebellion.
In fact, God is essentially wooing His own creation to believe Him, placing Himself as the pleader, convincing men and angels that His government is just, His law perfect. This is God, the Creator! The Creator pleading with His creation? It sounds utterly ridiculous.
But such is the humility of God. So humble that it makes me perplexed and uncomfortable. How can this be? He makes Himself subject to His creation.
My natural response in this type of situation would be to appeal to God, “Lord, show Yourself strong.” He is in fact showing Himself strong, but not in the way I think what strong means. And in the end, when all beings in the universe will finally acknowledge the justice and goodness of God, what we will not find is God sitting on His throne looking all smug saying, “I told you so.”
God is a God who is touched by the feeling of our infirmities (Heb 4:15). This is not only true when Jesus becomes our High Priest; this is who He is from the beginning. And these infirmities are not just our feebleness; they include all of our sins and rebellions. God is touched by our sins. He is not unaffected by our rebellions.
In the controversy between good and evil, God is not the One watching the spectacle from above. He is the One being watched. This is humility.
Who is before men and angels? God is.
More of this from the sanctuary later.