Before you read, I purposely didn’t put full passages in the post to encourage you to open your bibles and read it yourselves! :]
The concept of living life in another’s shoes was, if not still is, a pretty popular idea. I have yet to try it since I have pretty small feet, even for an Asian, so I would not know how that is. Lately though, God has put it on my heart to see things the way He sees them, including the thoughts that He would think, the feelings and emotions that go through His mind as He sees the things I see, the actions He would take as if He was physically present with me. These are just some of the things I want to come to understand. I cannot say I have many answers yet, but God has revealed to me, what I believe as, a glimpse of His heart through prayer and meditating on His word.
First thing He put on my heart is: I am a sinner. It says in Luke 5 when Jesus first starting seeking his disciples, He finds Simon (called Peter), James, and John fishing. They had been fishing all night and were washing their nets. As they were getting ready to call it a night, Jesus says to them, “let’s go fishing!” (in a more elegant and Bible-y way). Simon complains a little, but at Jesus’ words, he obeys. Out of nothing, Jesus abundantly fills the nets with so much fish, the nets were breaking, and Simon and his crew had to signal to their partners to fit all the fish. Immediately after this, the text says “when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.’” Why? Because he saw through God’s lenses. He saw himself and his own life as how God would see him—as a sinner—and he saw Jesus the way God sees him–as a holy and righteous judge.
My first reaction to this miracle would be overflowing joy and amazement. Sure, I would be very curious about who this stranger was and how he could have known how to fish like that, moreover, I would probably go and sell all those fish and made a fortune. That kind of catch is not just a lot of fish. It was a lot of fish. I imagine the scene of Finding Nemo where the little Nemo tells all the fish stuck in the net to start swimming down all at the same time, yet double or maybe even triple that amount. Upon seeing this, my heart would naturally harvest a ton of greed and I would gladly take all the fortune this stranger freely offered to me.
Simon , James, and John, however, left everything and followed Jesus—the unbelievable catch of fish, the fleet of boats, the nets (which existed for who knows how many generations), their families, everything! They did not even know this guy. I mean, perhaps they could guess but truthfully, it was just some other freak-show who could do supernatural things. There were plenty back then who would do supernatural things like sorcerers or diviners, etc, but those three—Simon, James and John—had faith that this was indeed the Messiah. They left everything and followed Him.
Sadly enough, God did not give me his personal revelation as He did Peter. Even more tragic, I do not think God gives it to many people, if any at all, in this age. We must come to that point and realize our sinful nature not only through the things we do (ours sins) but mainly through who God is. Imperfection does not look very imperfect amongst imperfect people, but it does when compared to a perfect God, the author of redemption, the creator of the universe, the prince of peace.
Second thing he put on my heart: people are dying. All around me, people are dying both physically and spiritually. Friends are losing loved ones, sometimes immediate family such as a mother or father. Others are losing their way and getting caught up in what the world has to offer them and the rest are simply dying because they have not accepted Jesus as their personal savior. We all know in our heads the last words of Christ on earth—the famous “great commission,” right? The apostle Paul’s words as he wrote to Timothy during his last days also gives the same instruction. Paul even reveals more depth into what will be happening as the time draws near for Christ to come again. Paul charges us to preach the word, as now is the time when people will not endure sound teaching, but they will only listen to what they want to hear; it says in the passage 2 Timothy 4:3b – “having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teaching to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
(It isn’t just for the strong Christians, it’s for all Christians. Jesus did not say that the weak Christians only get part of me, no way. Every Christian gets all of Jesus, and all authority on heaven and on earth has been given to him! Matthew 28: 18-20)
Many times, I pass by on an opportunity to share the gospel. As the Holy Spirit stirs me, I always tell myself, “oh someone else will do it, next time I see them I will share, I don’t really know that person that well, we’ve only talked once, God are you sure you want me to go…etc”—all these lame excuses. More and more though, God has told me how my best friends, friends I’ve known since elementary school until now, are dying! My family members in Taiwan, my cousins, aunts and uncles, my classmates, even some people in my ministry may be dying! Am I doing everything I can to minister to them, to love them, to do everything I can to reach out to them and show them that the God of the universe is still knocking on their door. Revelation 3:20, Jesus says to the church of Laodicea, the lukewarm church, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and eat with, and he with me.”
Lastly, he put on my heart to ask for suffering. In 2 Corinthians 12:1-10, the church of Corinth was struggling and being ravaged by Satan’s servants. Paul, upon hearing this, becomes very troubled. He describes it as a “thorn (in the Greek, literally, a stake) given [him] in the flesh, a messenger (angels are also called messengers) of Satan to harass [him].” God allowed the church of Corinth to be attacked in this way. In this same way I believe God has allowed the demons to attack our ministry here in Santa Cruz. That without these trials, nothing good would come of us. We would have continued our stagnant cycle of going to ministry activities, complaining about certain people, gossiping, and doing everything except encouraging the brothers (and sisters). But as always, we must ask ‘why.’ Why does God allow this to happen?
Paul explains it further in the verse, “to keep me from being conceited.” God needs to humble Paul. The great apostle Paul who made us Asians into Christians. He needs to be humbled by God. Paul goes on to explain it in verse 10 – “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
I live too comfortably. Slowly, God has put suffering into my life through the lives of others. It isn’t bad to the point where there is a stake in the my side or anything of the sort, but in light of recent events, God has shown me more of what He sees and what He feels—a kind of holy anguish that comes from seeing others dying and a humility only attainable through suffering and weakness.
So now what? I don’t know about you, but for me, my identity as a sinner, my calling as a disciple maker, and my pride is not always before me in my Christian walk—yes, my Christian walk. If I were to live the Christian life God called me to—God’s Christian life that he has planned for me—then I would see these things all the time. These things and more will always be before me, reminding me how much I need Him. I am not writing these things because my life will dramatically change after this post; that is utterly impossible. I write it to invite you to keep me accountable, those of you who feel convicted to also to live God’s Christian life.