Monday, November 10, 2008

Singing Analytically: Love VS Justice (Part 2)

(to see the first part of this entry, click part 1)

I know that everything sound hypothetical without valid supports so let me build my case. Does the tragedy in Eden come to mind? A would-be Cinderella story had they obey God's command to stay away from the tree. Or the Israelite's unnecessary 40 years journey rounding the dessert had they obey God's command to be faithful? There are myriad of examples from both the Old and New Testament that strongly prove my point, nonetheless, I will deliver my final blow with these verses from the book of Haggai.

  • The process of rebuilding the House of the Lord was abandoned by the people
  • Instead, they were too preoccupied in accumulating wealth and building their own house.
  • Consequences: God blew their wealth away, their hard labor and toil were fruitless. 
"Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it." - Haggai 1:5-6
  • Why? Because they disobeyed God's command to rebuild His House.
"What you brought home, I blew away. Why? Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house." - Haggai 1:9

  • Once they realized their misdeeds and started to rebuild the House of the Lord, their future is, once again, reassured.
"From this day on I will bless you." - Haggai 2:19
  • Simple interpretation can be deduced: There is a strong correlation between (1) obedience and reward and (2) disobedience and punishment

I'm not saying that we can earn God's love by obeying him. No, and I reiterate, God loved us first regardless of our deeds. But, there is another spectrum to God's nature: justice. When humans have gone wayward, God's love translate into a mean to bring us back. And most of the time, it involves pain.

That said, let's interpret the song in that light. Although it is true that God cannot repudiate his loving nature even when we "ignore the hand that fed me (us), or if "we forget to confess", that fact should not lead us to think that we can continue to indulge in our sinful nature. Beware that sins and God's discipline go in tandem and although God's reservoir for forgiveness is boundless, so does His punishments. 

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Singing Analytically: Love VS Justice (Part 1)

In this post-modernization world, theological doctrine can be easily skewed towards one direction and tailored towards one's specific need. It is very tempting to pull out a statement from The Bible and torture it with free-interpretation. This symptom can be prevalently found in music and it's lyric. Why? I'll spare you that question since I'm more interested in encouraging all of us to put on, not just our barely two-octave voice, but also a critical mind while singing. Thus, there you have the title: Singing Analytically. 

Before I start, let me remind you that this blog is an open space for opinions, both mine and yours. Opposing views, criticisms, and laudations are encouraged. So, let's lift our voice and share our opinion!

So, my first pick for the Singing Analytically series is "What If" by Jadon Lavik (click here for the lyric). The essence of this song is God's unconditional love - no matter how good or how bad we are, his love remains unchanged. There is no correlation between God's love and humans deeds. True? Absolutely! However, I would argue that this is an incomplete picture of God's nature - the loving God who died on the cross is the same God who will come & judge the earth. To eliminate either side of His nature is to give a misleading truth; both natures - love and justice - are inseparable. And with the song's lopsided emphasis on God's love, serious misunderstanding and careless interpretation of a loving God who is incapable of disciplining his children can be easily drawn. 

First, God's Love.
One inarguable truth: His love goes beyond our comprehension. This is unconditional love, meaning God loves us regardless of our iniquities, he loves us just the way we are and there is nothing, good or bad, that we can do to earn His love. The unconditional love precede our existence and thus, our current deeds have absolutely zero effect or impact on the love that was and is showered upon us. Good news? Definitely. But, that is only part of the story. 

Second, God's Justice
Simple way to illustrate this point is to imagine God as your parent; Yes, imagine your mom and dad. There's no doubt that they love you genuinely, but, it does not mean that they let you off the hook when you disobey and misbehave (remember all those stupid pranks we've committed in elementary school.). In brief, good and loving parents discipline their children, with their weapon of choice: timeouts, spanking, slapping, etc. 

Discipline can take many forms in God's vocabulary and I believe that reward-punishment is God's favorite method. This means whenever you obey and uphold his commands, you'll get a pat on your back. Enjoy the carrot. Fail to do that, you'll receive all sorts of negative consequences, ranging from a friendly slap on your wrist to a vigorous belt's strike. Fair enough?

(to continue reading, click part 2)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Obama's Promises, that We Believe In

Seriously, you wouldn't think that I would miss the privelege to write an entry about this historical political moment right? Although I'm in the middle of burying my head in this mountainous papers for tomorrow's 620 midterm, I cannot help not to define this defining moment. Thus, sit back and relax, this entry won't be long.

First, and I would not be redundant in proclaiming a message that everybody already know, Barack Obama is America's 44th president. So what? These are the things that you should expect to happen in his presidency.

Economy: middle class will taste more tax relief and big business will stare at disbelief when their taxes are raised significantly. Personal opinion: The economy is in dire need of attention and this is definitely the first thing that Obama will do on his first day. Why? Because everything greatly hinge on the economy and without appropriate budget, no matter how great your policy is, nothing can be carried out. Is it going to fly? Still a question mark for me. 

Energy: invest heavily in green renewable energy. His main focus is to end the U.S.'s dependency on foreign oil. Cap & Trade system is enforced; say Hi to the blue sky.

Health care: employers will have to cover their's employee health care. Obama's plan is to free Americans from high medical cost set by either government or insurance companies. It's all about expanding coverage. What I like from his health-care plan: Universal health care for children. It's about time.

Well, those are three issues that I hold most dearly. I am an Indonesian, correct, but this election is not merely about being Indonesian or Americans. It is about people and any effort by any country to make this world a better place deserves an attention. I always believe that developing societies like Indonesia is always one step behind developed societies; at least the changes that we hope will take place in America will serve as great lessons for Indonesia's government to value its people and to realize that changes are also on the horizon for Indonesia.