Ni Joy Eva Bohol
Text: Mark 13:1-2
NO ACCESS to clean water. The community prohibited them to have electricity. The wife’s left leg is weak, making it hard for her to walk, much more to carry a pail-full of water for a long distance. The husband met an accident from his work, disabling him to earn money. The couple couldn’t afford to pay for hospitalization, instead they use Salonpas (a muscle reliever tape/bandage) to ease the pain from the wounds and cuts the husband got from the accident, which the company didn’t take responsibility of.
Yet amid their desperate situation, true hope is found in their lives. Joy overpowers the couple’s wrinkled tired faces during our visit at their humble home, and even offered us with bottled water, which is already a luxury for them. Having met the couple showed me the Living Temple in which Jesus is the foundation; a Living Temple that would not fall down or be destructed by the world.
God is a fair God. Sometimes I think how unfair the world is because of how it defines everything in it. But seeing the couple’s faith reminded me of a life after this earth. One hundred years on earth is nothing compared to eternity—and that’s the life we look forward to when we join Jesus Christ in heaven!
Like the couple Hannah has never faltered her trust in the Lord and kept praying for a son. Though not poor in wealth, Hannah’s inability to bear a child has made her a weak woman and a target of humiliation. The couple I met is an outcast in their own village and people seem to humiliate them in any way they can. The community would not help them because of their belief (non-Christian religion) that being poor is karma that may pass to people near them.
The Heart Religion
In Mark 13:1-2 Jesus answered one of His disciples, saying, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” Jesus’ disciples were amazed of the “wonderful stones” that built the temple. Yet Jesus rebuked them by telling them that worldly greatness is not eternal. He wanted His disciples to focus on what is most important—the heart. We can also relate the temple to a person. Oftentimes, our church is more concerned or is hospitable only to those who can contribute largely in the financial aspect of our church or to persons of high status and position in the society, but ignore those who are poor and weak.
One Sunday I joined a worship service of one of the United Methodist Churches (UMC) in Metro Manila. I went there not as speaker or a guest but as a Christian, searching for a place to fellowship with other believers. I came early and welcomed by two greeters. I sat down at the last pew and waited for the service to start. The service went on (in a liturgical manner). After the worship I stayed for a few minutes, waiting for someone to come to me and perhaps invite me for small group meetings or even mingle with me. Sadly, no one did. This experience is way opposite as to when I introduce myself. When they know about my position in the Philippine UMC, they treat very well until I go home full of prayers and warm hospitality.
Even our brothers and sisters in faith may treat us unfairly. Hannah experienced it when Eli the priest told her that she was drunk, when all she did is pray silently. Hannah was perceived wrongly when she prayed humbly to the Lord. Needless to say, our church has reacted like Eli when we see persons who do not reach a “certain standard,” which is based less from God and more on social norms.
Psalm 113 expresses God’s love to the afflicted, poor, persecuted, and weak. The psalmist describes God as the Alpha and Omega. At times I wonder why God allows terrible things to happen to His children, just like the couple I’ve met—they’re poor, sick, and outcast—but God’s assurance is powerful and real in their lives! It goes beyond poverty and sickness. It goes beyond loss and wealth. It is everlasting!
Seeing through God’s eyes
As God’s children we should grow like Him every day of our lives. To see people as God sees; to love people as God does. The world creates the norms that Christians should counter.
Anyone who would meet the couple from the small village in Vientiane, Laos would definitely feel sorry for them. Their situation is beyond normal. Every day, the wife fetches water from the Mekong River, which is dirty and not good for drinking. The water they get from the river is used for cooking and drinking, making them vulnerable of infections and diseases.
Seeing through God’s eyes helps me appreciate the couple as co-believers in the Lord. I no longer see a poor couple but as faithful servants of the Lord, who, despite their situation never stops praising the Lord! Their lives are living testimonies in their community. Their lives are inspiration to other believers, who, in difficult times, doubt God’s grace. Their lives are a reflection of Jesus Christ’s great sacrifice on the cross to redeem us from sin once and for all, so that in Him we would have joy the overflows that money cannot buy. Their lives are the very reason why the Messiah came on earth not as King in earthly royal robes, living in big palaces, but as a King who was born in a humble home, raised in a commoner status, yet reigns on heaven and earth. Jesus knows exactly how it is to be poor. He identifies with them. And in the last days, Jesus promised to uplift those who were taken for granted, weak, afflicted, persecuted, and poor. “Who is like the LORD our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes, with the princes of his people.” (Psalm 113:5-8)
Guide Questions for group discussion:
1. How is Christ reflected to other people I see every day, regardless of religion, race, and status?
2. How do treat new people in church?
3. Seeing like God sees, how do you think the church should treat other people?
4. Does our church have ministry/ies that respond to be God’s hands and feet to the community where we belong to?
5. If not, what are we going to do about it?
7. How do we treat new people in church?
8. Through God’s eyes, how do you think the church should treat people?