Samson

This is part 1 of a 2-part series of reflections on the sermon I heard last Sunday. For a while now, we’ve been going through the book of Judges and we immersed ourselves in the story of Samson on Sunday. By the end of the service, we’d read 7 verses in Judges chapter 13, the whole of chapters 14 and 15, and most of chapter 16. That’s immersion.

Reading all that at one go, I couldn’t help but wonder, “How is it that Samson is considered one of the faith giants in the Old Testament??” Here was a man with a weakness for pagan women. In chapters 14-16 we have the abbreviated account of his life as judge—he was judge for 20 years—and each episode has a Philistine woman as a supporting character. His death does not directly figure a woman, but the (in)famous Delilah was partly responsible for his predicament.

Some things struck me about the story of Samson. Like, how does one sleep while one’s hair is being woven in a loom? Why doesn’t Delilah shave his hair herself? The Bible is clear that on the previous occasions she herself tied him up, tied him up again, and wove his hair in a loom. However, she “…called a man to shave off the seven braids of his hair…” I wonder what the significance of that is.  In addition, I was also taken by Samson’s poetic ways– not exactly what you’d expect from a Philistine-killer.

On the serious side, these things were written as examples and warnings for us, that we may not fall into the same sins.

I also noted some things about God. God is pure and holy. So why does it seem He was using not-entirely above-the-board methods? I remember reading that during the period of the Judges, “God wasn’t averse to bringing about states of affairs that did not conform to His revealed will in order to achieve some wise purpose.” In addition, God’s motives and actions are never tainted by sin, as are ours. So, even if He seems to be doing something “sneaky”, we can be sure that He has  His glory our and  best interest at heart.

His grace is also abundant. Samson prayed just before his death that God remember and strengthen him. And God answered him. The Bible notes that “…he killed many more when he died than when he lived.” Apparently, that grace was also extended to his formerly barren mother—his “brothers and his father’s whole family” buried him.

Thank God for His wonderful gift!

Engaging Culture

Living can get so complicated. There are so many grey issues out there; it is hard to know WJWD (what Jesus would do) if in your shoes.

There’s some really helpful advice in the v. Culture article— six ways to redemptively engage culture. A good read, and to put into practice!

Truth and Compassion

Throughout history, Christianity hasn’t been known for being successful at merging the two aspects of being the diffusers of God’s eternal truth and the spreaders of His infinite love. And unfortunately for the Church, the things we got wrong tend to stick more than those we did get right.

Case in point, the article Grace and Gay Men at Boundless. I found the following particularly stinging:

While some were claiming this was God’s curse against homosexuals, my gay friends wiped away my tears and held my hand as I waited on test result that I just knew were going to give me bad news.

The article concludes thus:

Do you think Christ used a gay man’s hands to wipe away my tears at 3:15 a.m. in a Nashville restaurant, as I mourned the loss of Ron and feared for my own life? Do you think Christ was using a gay man’s hands to hold my own as I grappled with “inconclusive” test results? Is it possible that Jesus goes places that the Church is sometimes afraid to?

I do.

That got me thinking… So how exactly do you show the love of God to someone who identifies themselves gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (GLBT)? What came to mind was the account of Jesus and the Samaritan woman (John 4). Jesus first pointed her to Himself (verses 10-13), before pointing out her sins- both the moral and spiritual. We tend to do it the other way round.

I’m not claiming to be an expert. I need all the grace that God sends my way just as much as anyone in the GLBT community. May I always humbly remember that.

Confusion. Clarity.

I’ve been sitting on this idea for a week, and I think it shouldn’t go past its best before date.

So, there’s a pregnant man in Oregon. In case you haven’t heard, here’s a very condensed version of events: Thomas was born female. About 10 years ago, she underwent a sexual reassignment procedure- chest reconstruction and testosterone therapy. She kept her “reproductive rights”, i.e all her internal reproductive organs are intact. After the procedure, he was considered legally male and legally married Nancy. Nancy can’t have children, and so Thomas stepped in.

When I read this story in the Italian media, I thought it was just too weird to merit any more of my time.  Albert Mohler, in his radio programme, rightly diagnosed my reaction as the “yuck factor”- when you know something is wrong and you find it revolting. And there’s been a lot of that going around, from both secular and Christian points of view.

Mohler adds that this wisdomof repugnance is not enough. Firstly, people get over it- it can be overcome by rationalisation. Secondly, it isn’t much of  an answer. It doesn’t attempt to bring any clarity into the confusion. We as Christians should go beyond “yuck”, and approach the issue with truth and compassion. The truth comes from the Bible. Choosing a gender identity that isn’t what we were born with is robbing God of His glory. It’s saying to the Creator, “I don’t like the way You made me.” This is true for transgender people and for gays and lesbians. Regarding the compassion, we shouldn’t see these people as being unworthy of our witness. However, we shouldn’t respond to them on their terms. We can’t treat sin as though it weren’t.

I have no doubt that this is only the beginning. More people will push the envelope farther in the future. As salt and light, we Christians should be willing to engage in compassionate and intelligent conversation, which I know is  so much easier said than done.

A proper blog!

So, I have now entered deeper into the blogosphere, and in so doing, I’ve become a statistic. Mine is one of the 298,194 new blogs created in the month of March; I’m one of the 381,855 new WordPress users. (Source)

I hope this will be an interesting experience. And I hope I’ll be able to move all my previous inane chatter from my Yahoo! 360° over here. I’m not sure I should have a theme– I may just continue to share what strikes me as important. I hope you enjoy it too!