Sekai no Hikari: Light of the World

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden…In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."

Our Differences

        Humans. They come in all shapes, colors, and sizes. But those differences pale in comparison to the depth of personality each individual shows. And everyone is different. This, in some ways, is the basis for relativism. But it can also be a support for Christianity.

        Relativism is the belief that each person or group of people has their own truth. In other words, truth is not the same for everyone. Or, as a relativist I know put it, “truth is in a constant state of flux.” However, relativism is often used as a basis by spiritual designers for their own brand of spirituality, therefore, each relativist will probably have their own idea of what relativism really is.

         The relativist, in general, looks at the world and sees all the different faiths that are in it. He or she can’t figure out which is true, and knows they can’t all be true at the same time. Therefore, he or she proceeds to attack the concept of truth itself, claiming that truth is relative to each person.

        The reason for all these differences of faith and theology is simple. In my experience, I have noticed that some humans tend towards certain values. To phrase this differently, each person has things they think are most important. Environmental factors can play a part in this, but a person is biased just by being born. For instance, some people are extremely compassionate, and they think mercy is an important virtue. I call this “the grace side.” Conversely, some people think that morals and righteousness are very important. I call this “the justice side.” These two values are on a spectrum. They both are good in general, but can be bad if carried too far. There are other spectra like this: individuality and community, tolerance and tough love, love for self and love for others, etc. Each person is made by God differently, so they land on different parts of these spectra naturally.

        What relativism seeks to do with these spectra is to devalue their importance. They say things like, “It only matters if you want it to,” limiting the impact of the different virtues by creating dividing lines. A person, thus, is restricted to their own whims and they only hear what they want to hear in light of their truth.

        However, Christianity fits with every virtue out there. In essence, it’s in the middle of all the spectra. Yet, at the same time, it provides a barrier that relativism doesn’t provide: it protects against evil. If relativism were true, everyone could make up their own truth that’s convenient for them, even if it were evil. However, Christianity, with its laws that tell us what to do, and the one true God who never changes and is completely good, makes sense in light of these seemingly conflicting virtues.

        And, with God as the one, absolute truth, and Jesus as the mediator and example to all of us, and us as the beloved creation, everything falls into place. Our differences make sense, and enhance our relationship with God and others. I know I have learned to be a better human, Christian, and servant to God and others by talking to other people who are more compassionate than me, and this includes non-Christians. It’s just because they’re different than me, and I, by God’s grace, am open to learning. Christianity doesn’t create annoying dividing lines like relativism does. Instead, God helps us see where we are strong, where we are weak, and where others can help us. By learning from the examples of others who are better at something than us, we learn different views on the Gospel, and our relationships are refreshed every day.

        I want to conclude with a quote: 

                “It is important to draw wisdom from many different places. If we take it from only one place, it becomes rigid and stale. Understanding others…will help you become whole.”    Iroh, Avatar: The Last Airbender

        This applies to us as Christians, even though we already know the basis for the whole truth. Others’ unique points of view will help us uncover the many facets of the truth in God’s world.

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Don’t Give Up On Your Dreams

        Recently, I listened to another song by Britt Nicole called “Still that Girl,” and the chorus really reminded me of lots of times in my life, as well as other people’s. It goes like this:

You were young, you were free/And you dared to believe/You could be the girl/That could change the world/Then your life took a turn/And you fell, and it hurt/But you’re still that girl/And you’re going to change this world

        My dreams have died many times, and my life has turned for the worse many times. But the nice thing about God is that the worse becomes the better for those who love him. Suffering brings hope and makes us the child of God that we were always meant to be. When we fall, God will be there to help us get back up.

        Speaking of children, I think we all need to be more in touch with our inner child in several ways. First of all, children are humble, and we need to be like that. (This one, Jesus said.) Secondly, children are hopeful. Their hope is contagious, so spend time with kids! Finally, children have big dreams. God is the One that gives us passions and dreams, and kids seem to know this. I think we should never stop dreaming. If you have the right attitude, and the right heart, God can use you in huge ways.

        Never forget this: that from the teenager waiting for her life to begin, to the 80-year-old who feels useless, everyone can be used by God. Never give up on your dreams! God is infinitely bigger than any obstacle. You are important and valuable, and you have been saved, and redeemed, and set free. Now you will do great things for God in your own unique way!

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Politics and Christianity: Do They Go Together?

        The other day, I was listening to someone talk about politics. Ever met one of those people who go on…and on…and on…and on about it? This was one of those people. It completely ruined my day. Now, I admit that this was partially because this guy was a major liberal who hates Christians. However, it’s also majorly annoying when conservatives get on their high horse.

         Because of this cringe-inducing interaction, I was thinking hard about politics, and what we should do as Christians. I mean, some of us are liberal, and some are conservative, right? Well, I came to a few conclusions about it, and if you disagree with me, that’s perfectly fine.

1) Actually, that’s the first one. Disagreeing about things as Christians IS OKAY. I took a theology class through church, and their most important thing they had to teach was that we do theology irenically, meaning peacefully, without anger or divisiveness. We are all going to disagree about one thing or another. We all are in the same position as human beings trying to discover the truth, and we are told to build one another up in our walk with God. Therefore, unless something is clearly a sin, one is not to force our brand of Christianity on another.

2) Argumentativeness will accomplish nothing. Don’t be the person who talks about politics all the time. There’s a reason people are supposed to avoid politics in polite conversation.

3) Our loyalties are to God first. Don’t try and change God, and don’t put your ideology before God’s. God’s priorities must be ours.

4) If politics destroys our unity as brothers and sisters in Christ, it’s not worth it. Debating is fine. In fact, it helps us think. However, if emotions run too high and people get angry, stop.

5) Don’t waste your time on party campaigning and interest groups. Remember, God is the one who chooses rulers. By all means, vote, and if God has called you to politics, go right ahead, but your volunteer time is better spent on a lasting ministry that will touch someone’s life directly.

        One last thought: It’s almost embarrassing to admit when I talk to Japanese people that Americans fight over political issues so much. Politics is keeping too many Christians from being truly effective for God. The fights, denial of our faults, hatred, and annoying Internet comments need to stop. None of that will change someone’s view. God, however, can do so. So when you go out to change the world today, don’t focus on nonessential politics. Instead, be fearless and bold in presenting the one essential: the gospel.

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Amazing Grace

        In my first post, I mentioned Avatar: The Last Airbender as a show that reminds me a lot of Christianity. One of my favorite scenes in the entire show is in the final episode. I’ll post a link to the scene, and a transcription of it, below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Na56wihXMn4

        The characters involved in this part of the show are Zuko, a prince who was banished by his father, and Iroh, his uncle. Here, Zuko is apologizing to Iroh for a lifetime of evil.

<Iroh wakes up and sees Zuko>

Zuko: Uncle, I know you must have mixed feelings about seeing me. But I want you to know, I am so, so sorry, Uncle. I am so sorry and ashamed of what I did. I don’t know how I can ever make it up to you. But I –

<Iroh hugs him>

Zuko: How can you forgive me so easily? I thought you would be furious with me!

Iroh: I was never angry with you. I was sad, because I was afraid you’d lost your way.

Zuko: I did lose my way.

Iroh: But you found it again.

        I think this paints a picture of God’s grace that many of us desperately need to see. We all sin and fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23), but when we sin, God is not like a harsh taskmaster in the sky. The other day, while doing a project, I came across something describing God as a “homophobic sky fairy.” Whoever wrote that has it all wrong. God is not afraid of anyone’s sin. If we are babies with dirty diapers, He holds us close, because He sees us as being worth enduring the stench of a dirty diaper. Even people who seem beyond redemption, even to the most tolerant person out there, are still valuable to God.

        He grieves over those who have lost their way. For every tear we cry, and for every ounce of energy we expend trying to find our own way, He cries a hundred tears, and devotes his boundless stores of energy to taking all the steps necessary to woo us back to Him. Yet, he leaves the final choice up to us, because he wants us to be free. He loves us with a love that surpasses all boundaries of sin, all laws of this world, and all the burdens of guilt we heap upon ourselves.

        And for those of us who find our way, guided by Jesus, God celebrates, and welcomes back with open arms. He calls us. He says, “Come. I can clean your mess. I can wash your stains. Break your chains. My grace is sufficient.” God is not angry with us. He wants us to return to him. He loves us with an everlasting love.

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