Lessons from Rye

Hi everyone! As some of you might know, I was away for 14 days in Rye, a scenic and quaint town along the Peninsula, on what was known as Summer Project (or Project). I was there with a group of Christian university students helping out with Schoolies Week – a week where high-school students flock down to Rye to celebrate the end of their high-school journeys. In Melbourne, Schoolies Week is seen as a rite of passage before high-schoolers hit university and the rest of their lives, therefore you can imagine that the vibes in Rye were loud, festive and excitable.

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The pursuit of excellence

Dear all, I know there has been a hiatus since my last post. This always seems to be the case as the academic semester picks up. Today, my hot coffee, a three-hour break and the gloomy skies outdoors call for a moment of contemplation. University life has picked up and as I progress through my degree, I wouldn’t have thought two and a half years of law school would have passed by so quickly. Through the rigour, pressure and frequently humbling reality-checks, I have been thinking of a few things. Here are my thoughts (with genuine attempts to be concise!)

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Jesus’ Unanswered Prayer

As Christians, we have the privilege of calling the Creator God our Heavenly Father too. Because we are praying to a deity with whom we have a real, personal relationship with, prayer is more than just a ‘shopping list’ we bring to God and cross out as He answers it or as we change our mind. God cannot be just our Genie who whimsically does our bidding. If we treat Him as such, I would ask the serious question of who really is acting as God here, us or Him?

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Waking up to Good News

Living in this age, we are inundated with daily emails, proposals and texts that update us on what’s happening both in the world and in our lives. I’m unsure if this is the daily ritual of my friends, but I wake up and fall asleep to notifications from news sources, social media and multiple E-mail accounts. And many times, this news isn’t good: Stagnant attempts by global leaders to promote peace, yet another terrorist attack, or perhaps a more personal blow, such as a rejected job offer or promotion.

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Frustrated by suffering

Our everyday life is peppered with both bright and dark moments, colouring our lives with various depths and intensities. As we toil through the struggles of living, which may rear its head in any form: a sickness, a failed test, a broken relationship, have we  lifted our heads to the Heavens, yelling at the futility of it all? Or, if we don’t believe in a deity, have we mulled over it in the quietness of our hearts? When the music has ceased, and we are left to our own devices, have we ever felt frustrated by the mundane difficulties of daily life?

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An acute, intense love

Apparently it takes a momentous event such as a Good Friday weekend to stir me out of my blogging slumber. I had no intention to write, but was particularly moved this morning by the significance of this weekend. This significance transcends the 4-day respite we have from work, the sub-par mass production of hot-cross buns, and even the extra time we get to ourselves. This weekend concerns Christ and the cross alone. It is only under the banner of the message of Easter that you will find complete, wholesome and pure joy, life, and hope. And yet, this weekend begins with the antithesis of all of the above- it begins with death.

For on this day, our God Himself, creator of the universe, my life and yours, heaved the cross upon Himself and walked the lonesome path up the hill of Calvary. Faced not only by the ridicule of the very ones whom He came to save, He received the punishment for the evil He never committed. He made payment for debt He did not owe; for slander that never entered His mouth. As I reflect upon the portrait of my Saviour who came to die, I do not find the waffly, hyped-up, romanticized love that the world is so accustomed to throwing around. I do not see my Saviour gallantly riding a horse up the hill to shed His life for us. I do not see my Lord boasting about how he has come to serve and save. I see the acute, intense love of my God as He cried out for forgiveness of  those who drove the nails into His hands. ‘Father, forgive them! For they do not know what they are doing.’ Indeed, they had no idea. I see the serious, foreboding love that translated into the giving up of life for the sake of those He came to save. 

The love of my Saviour transcends the feel-good, self-esteem-boosting idea of love and acceptance that we are used to today. It involved torture, pain and ultimately death. It involved selflessness, sacrifice and the wrath of a Holy, Righteous God. In fact, I cannot see how someone could sing of the love of Jesus Christ without remembering the cross that demonstrated it, and the sin (our sin) that held Jesus there. If we are asking God to show us more of Himself, to give us more blessings, or if we are only remembering the cross on this Easter weekend, I wonder if we recognize the all-sufficiency of the cross in redeeming us into an eternal relationship with the Holy God who created us. In fact, I wonder if what we desire for is the eternal relationship with this God. Do we see God’s worth, faithfulness and goodness by what He has blessed us with? Or, alternatively, do we see it through the prism of the cross? The death of His Son to atone for our wrong-doings is the greatest blessing, and the most perfect demonstration of God’s love.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8

Don’t let the cross be a token demonstration of your faith. Rather, let it under-gird everything that you do. Let your decision to serve, honour and love God be propelled by His love as demonstrated on the cross. Let your daily walk with God be infused with the remembrance of Jesus Christ, who lived and died, and ultimately rose again. Don’t think that you can ‘graduate’ from knowing what Jesus did on the cross. It should be this very nugget that spurs you on in your faith. Let your life be based upon the character of Jesus Christ as demonstrated on the cross.

But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. – Galatians 6:14

Boast in nothing but the cross. Not in wealth, nor riches, nor personality, nor worldly achievements. All we have is Christ. All we need to know about God is demonstrated and accomplished in Christ, and for that reason alone I can confidently bid you a blessed Good Friday.

Reading the Old Testament

One of my (few) New Years Resolution for 2017 was to read through the entirety of the Old Testament and to expose myself to more teachings and sermons about the Old Testament. There’s no strategy or app to go along with my reading plan, just good ol’ daily cracking open of the Bible, the occasional commentary and hopeful ambition that I will be able to reach the book of Micah by year-end. To 21st-century Christians, going through the compilation of Old Testament books is an arduous, and dare I say, irrelevant task.

After all, we live on the other side of the cross, we are Christians, not Israelites, we have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit within us, and we await the second coming of Christ, not the first coming of the promised Messiah. Surely, the New Testament would be beneficial in teaching us more about God than the Old?

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