Pastoral Perspectives

Isn’t Grace Simply Amazing!

Three deaths over the past three weeks got me thinking. The first happened on 30 November and I had no idea who that person was when news of his death first appeared on social media. He was on his way to attend a charity event when the car he was in hit a lamp post and killed him. I do not know Paul Walker as I do not follow the Fast and Furious franchise but I guess he had to be someone special in order to touch the hearts of many worldwide. Well, I have come to learn that Paul was a Christian and he had these wise words, among many others, to share with the world:

You know, all that really matters is that the people you love are happy and healthy. Everything else is just sprinkles on the sundae. (Flaunt Magazine, July 2001)

Life’s too short. And the biggest curse is falling in love with somebody.

Paul was not the only one to acknowledge that life is short. I believe many of us know of someone else who suggests that we should therefore have an affair. So I salute this dear brother-in-Christ and Hollywood celebrity that though his life was cut short unexpectedly, I believe that there are happy and healthy people around because of his love. And so many mourn his death and yet celebrate his life.

The second happened on 5 December but unlike Paul’s case, the world had been preparing for his death because of his old age and failing health. Nelson Mandela was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician and philanthropist. He had spent a good part of his life fighting against apartheid, including a 27-year jail term. And when he was released from prison at 71 years of age, Nelson wasn’t just freed from metal bars but also free of malice and all kinds of vengeful spirits. The courage to stay behind bars for a cause is commendable and many had done that before. The ability to leave grudges and hatred behind those bars is also commendable and I believe many good people had also done that before. But the will to serve as elected President for only a term, after all that he had been through, that is the thing I have come to admire him. Nelson had certainly made many people happy and healthy because he worked his life to achieve it and did not allow success to get the better of him. And so people from all over the world also mourn his death and celebrate his life.

There are other notable celebrities and politician who died this year. But Paul and Nelson are the two that capture my heart and mind. I am not sure why. Perhaps there is something sincere and authentic about them that celebrates our humanity, one that is created in God’s image but now yearning for his redemption. So I had to ask myself the hard question: when my turn comes, will others also celebrate my life? I guess it all depends on me while there is still breath. And I believe this should matter to us because it says a lot about how we live as Christians and whether the Lord is pleased to receive us at the other side of heaven. So the first two deaths celebrate the goodness that remains in humanity.

What about the third death? Well, it happened on 8 December on our home soil when an Indian national was knocked down by a bus, pinned under it and died there. Most of us would not know him but we surely know what happened thereafter. He wasn’t the only person, whether a foreign worker or a local resident, to fall victim to an unfortunate traffic accident. So what led to the riot? Why did they turn on those who came to render help? Many questions are asked and hopefully we will have the answers and solutions so that we may not witness another mob gathering on our streets. But I believe that any human being is capable of forming a mob when the necessary conditions are present, even in a church. Whether it will turn into a riot or not is another thing altogether. So this third death reminds us of the fallen nature of humanity.

There was a time long ago when a mob also gathered. However it did not escalate into a riot because someone died and his death pleased the mob. Most of us should know him and also what happened thereafter. He wasn’t the only person, whether a robber or a rabbi, to be hung on the cross. So what led to his crucifixion? Why did they crucify him who was found not guilty? The Bible gives us the answers but many continue to doubt his identity, challenge his claims and ignore his warnings. Well, as the Bible warns, Jesus will come again, not to render help but to pronounce judgment on this world because of human rebellion against God. So until then, we should not be surprised to find mobs gathering here and there and riots happening all over the world.

The Bible also gives us God’s solution to our problem so that we do not have to face his impending wrath. And that is to believe in his Son Jesus as our Lord and Saviour and his blood shed on the cross will redeem us from our sins and clothe us in his righteousness. This good news was proclaimed by the angels when they announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds who were keeping watch over their flock by night. And Jesus would live a life that was pleasing before God and die a death that appeased his holy anger. It is a life that we are all not able to live and a death that we would therefore all face. But God took it upon himself so that in Jesus Christ, we may have eternal life instead. God didn’t have to do it but yet he did. Isn’t Grace simply Amazing!

Pastor Ronnie

December 22, 2013