Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Remember the poor

For God, who was at work in Peter as an apostle to the circumcised, was also at work in me as an apostle to the Gentiles.  James, Cephas and John, those esteemed as pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised.  All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along.
Galatians 2:8-10


The passage is taken in Galatians when Paul is defending himself that he received Revelation from God, not from men.  He recalled how he was accepted by the disciples to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter was called to go to Jews.

Looking over the text, the poor is not consider as spiritually poor (like those who do not know Jesus).  I conclude that the poor is physically, socially and economically poor because if it is spiritually poor, Paul would have use the word Gentiles (who Gentiles at that time know Jesus? or not spiritually poor).  Anyways back to my post....


Remembering the poor.  

It was at Tim Horton waiting to get a coffee and a sandwich for R (R lives on the street on a wheel chair. I visited him on and off for over three years now), when I realize I forgot about the poor.

A man in shaggy clothing was stumbling in the store.  He wasn't very coordinated.  He stuck out an empty Tim Horton cup as if asking for change.  He was walking around the store.  People were sitting on the table and ignoring him.  In a brief second as he and I almost met, I looked away and turned around.  With my back toward him, it was a silent gesture that said...."I do not have change to give you.  Please go away."

It was such a natural reaction.  I didn't even thought about it.  But it dwell in me since then.

The man wasn't asking for change.  He went back to his table and his friends sat next to him. I picked up the coffee and the sandwich and walked out.

How ironic, I go out and shared a meal with R.  And here there's a person who just appear in need and I shrugged him off.


During the interview with OMF, they read that I have a heart for the poor.  They knew about R and I.  They knew about D and how I treated him pho in order to connect and shared Christ.  They asked me how do I do it?

I thought about it and said, it ain't easy.

Note: This ain't a self pity post where I beat myself up and feel the satisfaction of pity and self gloat.  This is a reflection on what it means to seek the Kingdom of God first and my natural tendencies to seek something else.

It ain't easy not because it is simple as just handing money.  It ain't easy not just because it is volunteering.  It ain't easy because it is so easy to forget about the poor.  So easy.

I have my life. I am going on missions. I have to raise funds. I have to pray. I have to connect to people. I have to sell everything I have. I have to make sure my finance, insurance, will is in order.  I have ministries I have to hand off.  I have friend's weddings to go to.  I have birthday parties.  Last meet up with friends.  Spend time with family.....

For the past few months, I can say, I don't have time. I don't have time. I don't have time.

In a way, I become self absorb.  What do I need.  What do I have to do for myself.  It's all about me (granted it is preparing for become inward focus).

And thus, remembering the poor flies out the door.  It is no longer important as I try to scrap and save every dollar I have to get myself over to Singapore.

All for the Kingdom right?  Mission must come first.  And part of the mission, to share the Good News, to bring joy and care to those who are lost, the gospel message that God is alive, God is coming and God is redeeming everything, also include spending time with R and D.

It was during the past few months, I noticed how I don't care as much about the poor anymore.  I was joking with D last month that to stop calling me and I would put him on my block list.  I was getting annoyed with his phone calls and emails and Facebook messages.  I am so busy right now and I have to deal with this...argh!

It was at Tim Horton my action reflected my heart.  Or my action reflected what I forgot.

Hanging out with R.  I don't know if I will see him again.  They are doing major construction at Nathan Philip Square.  Soon where R is staying will be fence off and he will have to find another place to live.  His wheelchair isn't working.  It is not picking up a charge. The wheel is getting loose.  There's not enough power to go up a small slope. R has problem finding a place to charge.  Winter is setting in. When I am gone, where will he go?  Where will he stay?  Will I see him again?

D is getting old.  He has a number of health issues.  Wear and tear breaks the body from being an athlete for 40+ years.  His bills are getting high.  His car needs to be fix and he has no money.  His daughter is ignoring him.  He has no one to hang out with.

Yes.  Time is short.  There ain't a lot of time left.  There ain't a lot of spending money left.  Going back to a crazy way, why not spend it with R and D.  Yes, I have emails I have to reply. I have things I need to follow up.

There are many life priorities which are important.  It's just that there are bigger priorities which I need to focus on first.  I have to go back to where God touched my heart.  Those of us who are in middle class society might pass them a sandwich when we want to volunteer and do some good works.  To seek the Kingdom and serve the lost is beyond just volunteerism.  Rarely will we sit down and befriend them.  Or know them and find out how they are doing.  And help them out by sacrificing things we like to do.

It's easy to do the volunteering bit.  Passing sandwiches to those who are hungry is important.  What worried me about myself is that I create a barrier where I can simply get myself back to my middle class life with my Internet, netbook, smart phones and Starcraft 2.  One of the aspects in the Kingdom is that the gospel breaks down all barriers.  Jesus comes and mess everything up.  He throw all the social expectations and norms out the window. Those who are marginalize are free to come at the feast next to the rich.  How do I live that out in my world?!?!?

And to me, this is the most costly matter in seeking the Kingdom. It ain't just reading some books, or reading the Bible or going to Sunday School or taking some seminary course and write a paper on some topic.  Granted these are good things (heck, I like to read, go to Sunday School, or take a seminary course).  But if following Christ is reduce to merely a knowledge gaining expedition or self indulge feel good experience every Sunday or fellowship, then I really do not know God.  

Yesterday during service, the worship team played this song for response.  Holding my hand high, I let the tear fall.  Not because it is good tunes or sentimental.  But rather, it is a reminder of who God is.  He seeks, not seeked, the lost.  He gathers, not gathered, them.  He is active. He is not passive.  He goes fourth.  He is a just God that defends the window and the orphan.  He doesn't step back and say to Himself, 'why do I have to steep so low to hang out with them'.    And for me, who say I follow Christ, I ought to do the same.

You have shown us

You have shown us, oh God, what is good
You have shown us, oh Lord, what You require
You have heard all our songs
How we long to worship You
Yeah, You've told us the offering You desire

To do justice and to love mercy
And to walk humbly with You, God
You said, to do justice and to love mercy
And to walk humbly with You, God

You have shown us the riches of Your love
And You have shown us Your heart for those in need
Lord, You're opening our ears to the cries of the poor
You have called us to be Your hand and feet
To do justice and to love mercy
And to walk humbly with You, God
You said, to do justice and to love mercy
And to walk humbly with You, God

To the oppressed and the broken
To the widow and the orphan
Let the river of Your justice flow through us
To the oppressed and the broken
To the widow and the orphan
Let the river of Your justice flow through us

Let Your river flow, let Your river flow
Let the river of Your justice flow through us, oh

To do justice and to love mercy
And to walk humbly with You, God
You said, to do justice and to love mercy
And to walk humbly with You, God

To do justice and to love mercy
And to walk humbly with You, God


With what shall I come before the LORD 
and bow down before the exalted God? 
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, 
with calves a year old? 
Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, 
with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? 
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, 
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. 
And what does the LORD require of you? 
To act justly and to love mercy 
and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:6-8

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