This is the second installment of my #ChristianGoals series. To read the first post, click here.
Magic (n.) \’ma-jik\
:an extraordinary power or influence seemingly from a supernatural source.(Merriam-Webster)
I want to be magical.
Well, maybe not so much. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a fairy princess with luminous pink wings. I wanted to be an astronaut and an archaeologist too, but those are just side jobs. Primarily, I wanted to be a fairy princess with superpowers. Preferably one that is followed by pixiedust wherever she goes. Though eventually, I grew up old enough to realize that magical fairies did not exist, so instead I settled on wanting to be a warrior princess.
I still do.
I think every Christian should be a warrior princess (or prince): someone who understands that being royalty means living for others. Someone who is so secure that she (or he) focuses less on proving self and spends more time making others feel important. Someone who isn’t afraid to stand up and fight for what is noble and true. Someone who is beautiful in righteous fierceness.
I hate to say this, but more Christians are leaning to the “spoiled-brat” side of the royalty spectrum rather than the honorable side. It has become about me, myself, and I. We are the generation of believers who throw their hands up in the air not to lift Him up but to shake our fists at Him when things don’t go our way. We are the ones who scream and whine until people adjust to what we want. That’s why it has become so easy for Satan to convince people that Christianity is moot. We’ve allowed the war to wage in front of us as we sit back munching popcorn inside outlandish home theatres. We choose to fight the battle by hiding behind our computers, armed with memes and mic-drops, spitting venom and snark as we wave our swords in the comments sections of blogs and Facebook posts. We walk away feeling self-righteously victorious over our enemy, when in actuality it is Jesus who is left most injured.
Should we really be surprised that “Christianity” repulses so many people at this rate?
As the body of Christ, shouldn’t our arms be open to embrace those who are broken? Shouldn’t our hands be stretched out to those who are sick as we declare in faith? Shouldn’t our feet be going to places other people refuse to go? Shouldn’t our words be full of grace and truth rather than just grace or just truth? Shouldn’t our hearts be bleeding for all those who are voiceless and invisible?
Instead, our eyes refuse to see, our ears are unwilling to hear, our arms cross and close, our hearts stone hard and cold, our chins are adamantly raised high, our knees are reluctant to kneel, our mouths gossip about what the hand does, our eyes judge where the feet go. Our entity that’s supposed to be a beacon of light is more well-known for being the bully and for vilifying those who don’t believe the way we do than for reflecting Christ’s kindness and humility. We look more like Pharisees than we look like the apostles, sitting comfortably in our church pews so we can be spoon-fed as opposed to stepping out of our comfort zones to where God has called us so we can speak what He wants to be said, so we can do what He wants done.
I don’t believe in a social gospel because good works cannot save you. It’s impossible to have a kingdom without the King. But as people who claim to have the King with us, I believe that it is important to start acting like His kingdom. And He asks us to forgive (Mark 11:25-26); to give to the poor (Matthew 6:1); to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, and comfort those in distress (Matthew 25:34-36); to resolve disputes harmoniously (Matthew 18:15-17); to lead by serving (John 13:14); to go the extra mile (Matthew 5:38-42); to honor our parents (Matthew 15:4); to make and teach disciples (Matthew 28:19-20); to love others as we love ourselves, including our enemies (1 John 4:7-21); and to walk as Christ did (1 Peter 2:21).
This applies to all Christians, it doesn’t “depend on one’s specific calling.” We differ in our gifts and specialized callings but sharing our blessings, seeking justice, showing mercy, loving people, and caring for the poor should be inherent in is as Christians. Being prophetic or having the gift to heal or do signs and wonders does not exempt you because you are “supernatural enough” as it is. These are important, definitely, but our character is still our loudest testimony, and there’s no use to “living a life of otherworldly miracles” if our hearts turn out to be Jesus-free.
Beloved, instead of wondering which verse would gain the most retweets or thinking of how to throw shade with your status at another person without losing all grace, we should be reflecting on whether or not we mirror Christ’s compassion, mercy, and dignity. Maybe we should be stressing less over how sensitive other people are to our “playful bullying” and “teasing sarcasm” and be wondering more if our words still honor Christ. Maybe we could start caring less about our Christian status symbols and caring more about the state of the rest of the world.
Because there is no sense in preaching the gospel when our lives preach otherwise. And evangelion, the Greek word for gospel, means more than “good news.” Its historical implication means that there is a saving message but beyond that, there is also a changing of the world for the better. Rick McKinley once wrote that taken out of the context of the kingdom, the call to faith in Christ gets reduced to something less than what the New Testament teaches. The gospel of Jesus Christ should be hand in hand with the gospel about Jesus Christ. To further quote, Pope Benedict XVI said that the Gospel is not just informative speech, but performative speech – not just the imparting of information, but action, efficacious power that enters into the world to save and transform.
I think people mistake what to expect when called as sons and daughters of God. Most would expect pampering, spoiling even. And yet the Firstborn Prince of God, the One called Lord of lords that we are so often reminded in the Bible to imitate, went down His throne, lived as part of the peasant class, allowed Himself to take the very nature of a servant, died for filthy, broken people like you and me, fought with sin, death, and the devil, and rose again victoriously for our restoration and redemption. I guess it’s about time we do royalty the way Christ did; it’s about time we wage war the way Christians should.
And the truth is, it frightens me knowing that fighting the enemy means far more than winning arguments and being simply nice. It means understanding that the opponent is a serpent and that he knows how to bring a citadel down from the inside. It means putting on the full armor of God and being alert (Ephesians 6:10-18). In the way I spend my free time. In the way I spend my money. In the way I speak. In the way I think. In the way I act. Daily. Moment my moment. Decision by decision. Second by second.
Think about it, truly living Christ’s way, and start counting the cost.
And then maybe we’ll find that Holy Spirit working in us and giving us grace to live this way is far and beyond supernatural. Maybe there is nothing more magical than a life saved and transformed by Christ; nothing more miraculous than a person choosing not to live in selfish whims or ambition, but choosing to live considering others more important than self.
Maybe we’ll find ourselves far more transcendent than fairy princesses with luminous pink wings, leaving light brighter than pixie dust in the wake of our trail.
“Truthfully the possibility for hypocrisy in this faith journey abounds. Though we speak of a perfect God, we ourselves are flawed, messy, wrecks destined to fall short—but that’s not a good enough excuse not to strive. Let our failure not come easily or without great effort at the beautiful alternative of stumbling after Christlikeness. If we are indeed to fall, let it be as we seek to fly.”
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
We could start by having compassion for the crowds. Aside from (obviously) sharing the gospel, going to the mission field, or simply being more gracious and filled by the Spirit as we drive on roads or answer to certain comments, some advocacies I personally recommend are Real Life Foundation (gives out scholarships to underprivileged Filipino children), United Nations Population Fund (whose vision is a world where every pregnancy is wanted and every childbirth is safe), UNICEF (fights for children’s rights) Doctors Without Borders (they bring medical aid to where it is most needed), World Health Organization, The Malala Fund (focused on providing education to young girls), CARE (whose community-based efforts are deliberate on empowering women and fighting poverty), UN Women, Human Rights Watch (they investigate abuse cases and fight for human rights), and UN Refugee Agency among many others. For those interested in volunteering here in the Philippines, you can look for activities and causes that would fit your passion through iVolunteer. You can also ask your local church and government for scheduled outreach programs you can participate in.