The year is turning out to be a year of elections. We are not even at the half-year mark and we have already witnessed elections in Taiwan and South Korea with the latest being the Philippines.
Mr Rodrigo Duterte, in preliminary count with 38.5% of the vote, is widely tipped to be the next President of the Philippines. Mr Duterte is a colourful character by any account. Known for his zero tolerance policies against criminals in the city of Davao of which he is the mayor for the last 22 years, he is also known for being a womanizer. He considers himself a “Catholic on leave” and claim that if he had to obey all Ten Commandments, he would not be able to perform his duties as mayor.
I find the phrase “Catholic on leave” interesting. He is saying he is taking leave from being a Catholic in order to do his job. Implicit in that phrase is the assumption that one cannot be a good Catholic and an effective leader at the same time!
That got me thinking about Christians who claim to follow Jesus. Are you a “Christian on leave”? You may be fervent for the Lord in your younger days but have now taken a back seat. Or your closest association with Christ is your Sunday attendance, provided the service is not too inconvenient and doesn’t drag too long. Do you see your faith as a mode to be turned on or off depending on your circumstances, much like the “Airplane Mode” on our smartphones? As a young believer, I was taught that if Jesus is not Lord of ALL, He is not Lord at ALL. To love Jesus is to live His life in us and to live our lives in His life. And that permeates all aspects of living and in whatever office we hold in life! Jesus said, “Why do you call me, “Lord, Lord,” and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:4b). Are you a “Christian on leave”? In a way, the phrase itself is an oxymoron. By definition, a Christian is a Christ-follower. You don’t choose to follow Christ in one area of life and not in another and still call yourself a Christ-follower!
I read a story recently about a couple who adopted 2 children from Ghana. After months of paperwork, they came home from Africa with a four-year-old girl and her six-year-old brother. This is the account from the writer:
“Excited as the adoptive parents were, the transition wasn’t easy. They had the challenge of assimilating the adopted children with their three biological kids. But the biggest challenges stemmed from behaviours the adopted children had acquired in their first years of life. Before being taken in by an orphanage, they lived on the streets. Their short lives had been marked by scarcity and neglect…
… they found sharing nearly impossible. Just the sight of another child playing with a toy they wanted was enough to set off a forty-minute crying fit. Once they finished playing with a toy, they would sometimes break it to ensure no other child could play with it. At mealtimes, they would gorge themselves. If they saw the cereal or milk running low, they got nervous….
We are a lot like these children. We have all picked up bad habits along the way – and it’s not hard to see why. We’ve been raised on the streets. By the streets I mean this world. It’s a place where only the strong survive, where you have to scratch and claw for everything you get. The powerful, talented, beautiful and wealthy are rewarded. The weak are crushed. It’s a reality reinforced in every arena and stage of life: on the playground, at school, in sports, in dating, in social circles, in the job market. So we jockey for position and angle for opportunities and look out for number one… We’re conditioned by a system engineered to foster fear and selfishness… Then one day something miraculous happens. God adopts us. We joined His family… We’re introduced to a whole new way of living, one in which the last are first, the meek are blessed, and we love rather than hate our enemies.”*
May God help us to truly live for Jesus! May our lives be characterized by only one mode which stays ON all the time! Our study on “6 Steps to Loving Your Church” helped us understand that as God’s redeemed people, we are called to love one another and others, whether inside or outside of church. Then we can truly claim Him as our Lord!
*Extract from “Yawning At Tigers” by Drew Dyck