Happenings, News

‘We can only boast in the Lord, not in our own selves’

“Voices from Scripture” is a work of fiction based on some references in Scripture to “minor” characters. This issue’s article features Lucas. Lucas is an imaginary leader of the Corinthian Church. He is a merchant by trade, hosts house gatherings in his home and is generally a good man. However, he has been swayed by the attractive “super apostles” (2 Cor 12:11) who came to Corinth. He now reflects on Paul’s letters to his church.

Voices from Scripture: Lucas

NOW that I think about it, Paul is right, not only about the Truth, but what he’s also right about the implications. Working with all those people in the marketplace has influenced the way I viewed the church: brought the marketplace into the church, instead of the other way around. So naturally I think that it is the powerful, yes, and even the attractive and desirable, who are the ones to be followed, but that is not The Way.

I pray God will forgive me, not just for my sin, but for leading the church in the wrong way, for as a leader I have responsibility over the sheep in my care.

I was drawn to these “super apostles”:
their skills, their good looks and melodious voices; and I had forgotten that we worship a crucified, humble Saviour. Our Lord Jesus Christ did not seek to grasp power and honour, but rather gave Himself in service of others. Jesus did not do things by force, rather He surrendered Himself to others. That is the “power” which we as believers subscribe to.

Actually, it’s strange to call that “power” because it is being power-less; it’s a strength, the value, the mark of being like Christ. And by following the way of the super apostles, I’m actually nullifying my Lord Jesus Christ.

That’s why Paul writes the way he does, he won’t boast about his accomplishments, but he will boast about his hardships and sufferings for the sake of our Lord. I didn’t really think about what he went through, though we’ve often prayed for his travels. Shipwrecks and stuck on the open sea! I couldn’t take that.

And he can still say that God’s grace is sufficient for him in all situations and His power is made perfect in weakness. That is such a new idea for me!

In the Greek thinking, we are looking for gods who would give us good luck and who could outsmart the other gods, so that we can be one-up from others. Jesus Christ is such a different God.

It seems so simple, and yet, I didn’t think about it that way. Christ crucified is God’s foolishness, which is wiser than man’s wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength. I forget that in this church most of us are not wise or powerful or even of noble birth. Yet, God chose us, and Gentiles to boot, to shame the strong Romans. We can only boast in the Lord, not in our own selves (1 Corinthians 1:25-31).

We are nothing. And yet…we matter in God’s Kingdom. God chose us so that His grace, and power and life can be seen in us. People shouldn’t see me, Lucas, my talents and abilities; rather, they should see Jesus Christ in Lucas. Yes, I think that’s how it should be. The way of our Lord is so different from the ways of our world; there is still so much for me to learn.

Enough, I’d better walk down to the shop and see if my spices have arrived. (1 and 2 Corinthians).

Kwa Kiem Kiok, a member of Trinity Methodist Church, is on sabbatical at Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky, the United States.


MMS planting two more churches

THE Methodist Missions Society (MMS) is planting two more churches — one in Cambodia and the other in Thailand.

Toul Kork Methodist Church, the first church planted in Cambodia on Oct 30, 1997, recently started a Preaching Point near Phnom Penh Airport. The people from the areas near the airport gather for worship on Saturdays.

The MMS, partnered by Barker Road Methodist Church, is also planting a church in Chiangmai, Thailand.

Meanwhile, together with Paya Lebar Methodist Church, the MMS is also targeting the Rangsit Methodist Church, outside Bangkok, for growth through the development of cell groups, discipleship and training programmes, community outreach, youth ministry such as The Boys’ Brigade and The Girls’ Brigade, school ministry, and campus and university ministry.