People ask me, “Where’s home?” and guess what, I really don’t have a reply off the top of my head. I don’t have a simple reply full stop! “Where are you from?, where did you study?” – these questions follow suite in getting the blank response from me.
I have lived in 5 countries in about 8 different stages I believe holding dual citizenship. Yes, I’m living in my country of birth but that is not my nationality. I’m here as a missionary on a yearly visa living by faith – my visa doesn’t allow me to hold a job anyway. Appearance wise, I’m often asked whether I’m Gujarati or Lebanese. The last thing people believe is that I’m Tamil – even though I speak the dialect fluently like a Jaffna Tamil. That’s just cutting it short.
I recall my cousin telling me when we were living in New Zealand that she and I were sitting on the fence – neither here nor there. When I was there, I would claim to be a Sri Lankan and now that I’m here in Sri Lankan, I claim to be Kiwi. However, I feel that I’m too “Eastern” to be “Western” and too “Western” to be “Eastern”.
Yup, I’m a “third” culture kid as anthropologists would call it…. hang on should it be 5th or 6th or something a bit more spread out??!! I’m sure you get the drift.
The good thing about this wide spread exposure is that I’m no frog in the well. My legalistic tendencies and prejudices are being broken more and more as I realise that there is so much more to what the eyes see in every situation.
However, the flip side (sadly every good thing has a bad side to it right?! 😦 ) is that more often than not, I turn out to be Mis-understood! Oh no, that’s not where I want to be and I’m sure not where anyone wants to be. Yet, many prefer to be in their comfort zone, like a frog in the well content in believing their well is the world and anything outside of it is W-R-O-N-G!
The more I read God’s Word, the more I feel ashamed of how legalistic I am and how much I box God in with my attitudes and so called ‘doctrine’! (Stay tuned, in the near future I will post on my reflections on this in terms of relationship as in finding a partner!). Yes, I still firmly believe that without holiness, we cannot see God. However, I do realise holiness is often defined by us based on our cultures and traditions and peer pressure.
We take God’s Word out of context, take one line and dwell on it and make a whole new doctrine based on that ONE verse, instead of looking at it in terms of the Bible as a whole and whether it is in line with God’s nature, works and perfect will. (This is the flip side to devotions as it is to be ‘short and sweet’ but people tend to read that as gospel truth short and sweet too). Since a verse is in the Bible and if it is quoted especially from the pulpit, people respond, “Oh, that is indeed biblical”, whereas being biblical is to be analysed and tested from Old Testament to New, and in light of God’s nature, character, attributes, acts, purposes, plans, will etc etc. Be warned that even Satan quoted scripture – and was that to be taken as gospel truth? Job’s friends used their ‘theology’ to chide Job and eventually these friends were asked to repent by God. So imagine taking what they said and quoting it as “biblical’?
Our exposures do impact how we view things and make us more rounded and more receptive to people’s ways and of course the ways of God. Is it then of any wonder that Jesus tells us to GO? He told His disciples to
“GO and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age” – Matthew 28:19-20
Why does Jesus say this? Because, all authority in heaven and on earth had been given to Him! He also reassures them and thus us, in the very same commission that He is with us ALWAYS, not SOME times!
“You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” – Acts 1:8
- Will you? Are you willing?
Not only does God speak of going (GO is a hard word but biblical characters responded, “Here I am”), but Jesus also speaks of leaving:
“Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life” – Matthew 19:29
- Are you being a frog in the well thinking that there is nothing wrong with your well and you are content being there? Thus, are you threatened or intimidated by anything and anyone (even God’s commissions) that contradicts your comfort zone?
- How do you respond to that ‘anything’ and ‘anyone’? Do you prefer to reject those you don’t understand as it’s not worth your time or effort – your family and your life are far more important and you don’t have sufficient time as it is to take care of them and that?
- How do the stories of the early missionaries make you feel? Do you think that that is just for them, it’s their calling and not yours, that God will reward them accordingly, but you will also inherit eternal life as you are content in proclaiming to yourself the good news?
- Or do you feel challenged and inspired by the stories of the early missionaries?
- Are you willing to follow the Great Commission? Are you willing to GO and to LEAVE?
- If not, why? Is it selfishness or is it because you can’t be bothered or because you feel that you are not equipped or it’s not necessary for you to do so or are your hands clinging tightly to things you don’t want to leave or is it that you simply don’t trust God or love Him to seek FIRST His Kingdom?
As we leave and go, we become less boxed in with earthly trends. As we become Kingdom minded, we begin to lessen more and more the grip that we have on the treasures of the world, and instead reach out to others for His glory. As we do this, we learn to embrace people and agree to disagree seeing that truth is nothing but who God is.. and His will depends on what He asks each person to do. We will then like Paul and Abraham look forward to our permanent dwelling place – of which we are citizens remembering that we are merely passers-by here on earth!