A SPIRITUAL MANTRA FOR A BLESSED LIFE
It is a very common behavior of mankind to burst out in anger when they do not receive the honor and respect which is due to them. At times, we will be forced to get angry as we confront a situation or at someone’s gross behaviour. Unfortunately it is an undeniable truth that people rarely behave the way we want them to. Some of us even do not entertain people who are younger in age or inferior to us addressing us by our name. In Indian culture it is a traditional custom that we ought to respect elders and dignified personals. However, this is slowly deteriorating.
We all expect a lot from our fellow beings and most of the times, it disappoints us because we hardly see them living up to our expectations. Marc Chernoff said “Tempering your expectations of other people will greatly reduce unnecessary frustration and suffering, in both your life and theirs, and help you refocus on the things that truly matter.” But how do we practically make this possible in our day to day life? Only by learning to be tolerant. Tolerance is inevitable in every areas of our life as we live on earth.
There are many people in the world who cultivated this character and led a wonderful life. But among them, Jesus Christ stands at the prime position. Though He was all powerful, yet became most tolerant in His time. A close study on Jesus’ life would help us to understand how tolerant He was. This would also help us to be like Him because Bible says “an iron sharpens an iron”. To become more tolerant, we need to:
1) Stop expecting and start giving (loving)
We all expect others to respect and do good to us. But how many of us keep on serving others regardless of their behaviors? While Jesus was on the earth He ministered to everyone who came to Him for help and it is interesting to note that everyone to whom Jesus ministered did not thank Him nor accepted Him. Once Jesus cured ten lepers and only one came back to thank Jesus and others went their way without thanking Him. His ministry or behavior had never been hindered by others’ gross behavior. Jesus stayed in Samaria and taught the people for three days and healed their sick. As we flip through the Jewish history, we see that Jews never used to get along with Samaritans and they treated the latter as second class citizens. Jesus broke these generational prejudices and served Samaritans in their own soil. Later when Jesus wanted to go to Jerusalem during the time of His crucification He intended to halt in Samaria for some time to relax from the journey and He sent disciples before Him for the preparation. But Bible says when Samaritans learned that He is actually heading towards Jerusalem; they were reluctant to receive Jesus at their place. When the disciples saw the rejection of the Samaritans their anger rose and they asked Jesus to bring down fire from heaven to destroy them. But Jesus warned His disciples to check to which spirit they belong to now and said I did not come to destroy but to save. He became more tolerant and continues to do good for them.
Jesus knew for what purpose He had come and He was very much focused on His mission and never allowed anything or anyone to stop Him doing the will of God. When you and me realize the truth that God called us to serve than to be served, it will help us to outgrow our pride, ego and selfishness and we will become more tolerant in our life.
2) Stop expecting from below and start expecting from above
Many times our services to others is based on purely what we may receive from them in forms of praises, appreciations, thankfulness and honor. It will frustrate us if our works and services go unnoticed. We must learn from Jesus that how he managed to cop up with similar situations in his life. There are many people who despised Jesus in spite of His profound teachings and the miracles what He performed. But Jesus never bothered to see who did not value His works rather He went on preaching, teaching and healing the sick. Once He said I do not accept glory from human beings. But He always as a human expected honour and acceptance from God the Father. This very thought sustained Him throughout his earthly ministry and finally as he expected God the Father honored him and made his name above all names.
As stated early let us focus on what is most important in life and fulfill our life call rather than brooding over things less matter to us. May God Almighty help us to be tolerant in every situation, in order to carry out our mission faithfully without any hindrances.
DO WE NEED TO JUDE OURSELVES AT THE SERVICE OF LORD’S TABLE?
We perhaps have seen the new teaching on the Lord’s supper by some man from Kerala who pulverized the traditional teaching on the Lord’s supper. It is nothing but the fulfillment of Acts 20: 29 – 31 which says “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.”
Let’s analysis the issue here in detail. We all cling to the doctrine that persuades us to examine ourselves before taking part in the Lord’s Supper. The proponent of this new teaching has overturned the doctrine and says that it is not the time to remember our short comings. Rather, he forces his adherents to only examine the body of Christ. Though this is partially true as he says, many believers hailing from Kerala, think that they must discern their own body as mentioned in 1 Corinthians 11: 29, “ For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner, eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.” The malayalam translation has missed out the word “Lord’s body”, leading many to believe in the same manner. It is true that 1 Corinthians 11 exhorts us to examine the body and blood of Christ, but it does not mean that we are free from judging ourselves on the occasion of Holy communion. A careful study on the scripture can wipe out the confusion and give us a strong ground to consent the apostates.
When we interpret a pericope from the Bible, we must also consider the immediate context for what purpose the author has written it. Here Paul was addressing a different issue which existed at the Corinth church. First of all, there was a division in the Corinth Church and as we flip through the pages of history we see that the division was not only in terms of leadership but also in terms of social and class. In the first century there was an occasion called love feast before they broke the bread. The Believers who were rich and affluent used to come to the meetings early as they had relatively less work. But the poor came late as they had to toil for their survival. Those who came early, used to eat and drink as they wanted and when poor believers came there was nothing left for them. By the time they broke the bread some were overfed and drunk but not many of them. So there was a disharmony in the body of Christ. Having this issue in mind, apostle Paul urged the believers of the Corinth church to discern the body of Christ first and then to examine themselves. Apostle Paul longed to see the believers of Corinth, understanding the real truth in the Lord’s supper. The truth is, as the bread consists of multiple flours, similarly the body of Christ comprised of everyone who believes in Him. In other words, believers are the body of Christ only when they are united. A well-known historian described likewise about the early Church, “within their own limits they had solved almost, by the way, the social problem which baffled Rome and baffles Europe still. They had lifted women to her right place, restored the dignity of labour, abolished beggary, and drawn the sting of slavery. The secret of the revolution is that the selfishness of race and class was forgotten in the supper of the Lord, and a new basis for society found in love of the visible image of God in men for whom Christ died”. It was a similar dream that Apostle Paul had for the Corinth Church. According to Paul, a church where social and class distinctions existed is not at all the body of Christ. As William Barclay puts it, “A real church is a body of men and women united to each other because all are united to Christ”. But the church at Corinth failed drastically in this area and what provoked Paul was that, even in the atmosphere of Lord’s supper they exhibited this disunity. He did not warn them to break the church of God, but to build them up.
Therefore in this passage of the scripture, the demand for self-examination of believers at Corinth and the body of Christ are inevitable. As far as the self-examination is concerned, was it only applied to Corinthians? As the so-called teachers of hyper grace says, Are we exempted from self examination? Of course not! When we read 1 Corinthians 11: 26, 27, it says “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till he comes. Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.” In the bible, whenever a verse starts with the word, “Therefore” we must consider the preceding verse. Here verses 26 says as often as we take part in the Lord’s supper, we proclaim the Lord’s death. As Lord’s supper is not taken part in any public place, this does not relate to non-believers or non-Christians. We, as a church, proclaim to ourselves that our Lord came, died and rose again and got the victory over sin and death.
So let us also examine what Apostle Paul says about Christ death. According to Romans 6: 10, Jesus died to sin once for all, but the life that He lives, He lives to God. The same chapter of Romans also says that, those who were baptized into Christ were baptized into His death. In other words ,we are united together in the likeness of His death. So what should be the outcome, if we all those who have taken the baptism united into His death? We should be in the likeness of the verse – Romans 6:10, as Christ died to sin once for all and the life He lives, He lives to God. Romans 6:6,7 says, “knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died, has been freed from sin. “ This is the kind of death that our Saviour had faced for us and He also united us in to His death. So that we no longer be slaves of sin but slaves of righteousness.
Now coming back to 1 Corinthians 11, when we approach the Lord’s table this thought must dominate us. We all must recall the kind of death, Christ had died as we approach the Lord’s supper. As we examine His death and our relation to His death, there should not be any spot of sin in our life. Therefore if anyone partake the Lord’s table in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord (1 Cor. 11: 27). The Spirit of God admonishes us through Paul to examine our life. 1 Cor. 11:28 says, “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” He did not ask us to stay away from it, but to examine ourselves before partaking the Lord’s table.