Thursday, October 13, 2011

5 Ways to be Like Jesus

I've been reading Luke with the help of Mr. Matthew Henry (a complete beast at interpreting the Word of God), and here are some things that stood out to me.

1. Get Casual & Lose Your Bubble...
Jesus spent a lot of His early life being surrounded and almost trampled on by crowds of common people. The first time He sent his disciples out to do the work we are all supposed to be doing as Christians, He said "Take nothing for your journey, neither a staff, nor a bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not even have two tunics apiece." Luke 9:4. He didn't want His disciples traveling with anything that would weigh them down, or make them look fancy. A silk suit would not only have made the crowds intimidated by Jesus, it would have been restricted how much He could do and how close the people could get to Him. Imagine the woman with the blood problem grabbing onto Jesus if He had on a robe of pure gold - not likely.
2. Spend Yourself On People Who Can't Help You...
The idea that we circulate today is that we should make friends in high places. Make friends with important people who can in turn connect you to other important people, and that way you will have lots of influence. It's so much of an obsession to know the Who's Who's that we disregard those who we consider beneath us. Preferential treatment for the important/wealthy can be seen everywhere, even in the Church. This is to our disgrace and shame. Jesus, the Holy and Anointed Son of God, hung out with fishermen, was in the company of prostitutes, and visited with the most common people of the time. When His Mom and brothers came to see Him, He didn't abandon the crowds to hang out with them, instead He continued to talk to the people who needed Him the most (scripture). He even agreed to dine with Simon the Pharisee, knowing fully well that the dude was not a fan of His, and was a very gracious guest. Our associations should be based more on who we can help, than on who can help us. That's what Jesus says here.

3. Take Things from People...
We have taken "It's better to give than to receive" and made it into quite the mantra. From the little I've seen, it's kinda dangerous to take one principle of the Bible and apply it more strictly than it was intended by the Author. Yes it is better to give, but it is not bad to receive. When we refuse the gits and service of others, we are taking away an opportunity for them to be blessed. Jesus, who clearly owns everything (see Psalm 50 lol), had a bunch of women He had healed following Him and His disciples to help support them here. He also told His disciples that when they were sent out they should stay in people's homes and eat what they were given. When you are going to do good for people, it takes special humility to let them serve you too. 

4. Shine Your Light Or Lose It...
Imagine if Jesus had come to earth, and then for fear of failure, or fear that people would think He was being prideful, He decided not to do anything until it was time to die. That's how a lot of us think. I know I do. "Well, I know that God has a plan for me, and when the time comes I'll do something for Him, but for now I'll just keep a low profile and observe what happens." Or worse still "I won't cheapen my gift by using it often, I'll keep it until the right time comes for me to showcase it, then everyone will be amazed". Jesus was a very nice person, he was always responding in love to people. In Luke however, this is how He responded to this attitude: Luke 8:18. Seem harsh? Well the hidden things of God's Kingdom are revealed to Christ's followers so that they can be revealed to the rest of the world through us. If we then insist on hiding them, then naturally, our wickedness will tick God off. In Matthew 25, He shows this. We should share what we've been freely given without fear or boasting.

5. Touch People...
Leprosy is not cool. And it's not a pretty sight either. However, when a leper approached Jesus for healing, this is what happened : Luke 5:12-13. Now, Jesus healed a lot of people by saying a word, or even while He was far away from them like the Centurion's servant. But he touched this man. He reached out and touched him to show love and compassion, instead of disgust at his condition. Jesus would touch an untouchable because He cares enough. Again the personal bubble really gets thrown out of the window when life is more about letting the hand on God mend people's lives through ours than anything else. May God help us not to distance ourselves from people who the rest of the world shuns.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Love Letter (A Poem)

I sent you a letter in the mail.
Posted that is - two days ago
I know you'll send me one back soon
And your words will be like gold dust - unbearably radiant yet as fleeting as the wind
But you'll get another from me.
And we'll continue to reciprocate cliches and allow ourselves meaningless flatteries
We'll exchange I (can't possibly) love yous And I miss (being honest) with yous
Until one of us gets bored or afraid of boredom from the other or both
And because we thought we'd alchemized confusion into love 
Reality will be our heartbreak.
But we'll remember the thrill and find worth in the pain somehow
Because it will be so much harder to be honest about why we so easily destroyed ourselves
So we'll vodka away our sorrows
Tell ourselves that the pain is not a signal from our bleeding hearts begging us to stop 
But just a part of life
And we'll cry on the shoulders of the vultures who get to us the fastest 
Becuase self-pity is how everyone else copes these days.

      Love you, miss you
              - Sadie(st)
Unknown Object

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Nigeria: A Scattered Travel Log (part 1)

The plane landed
I paused, inhaled and tried to feel like I was at home.
But I didn't.

The interesting thing about being away from a country for so long is that when you arrive, no matter how strongly you want to embrace the culture, people and everything else that comes with it, you still feel foreign. To be true to yourself, you would have to admit that the food tastes strange in your mouth, the smells catch you off guard and the surroundings have you spending short bursts of time just standing and staring to take it all in. It didn't help that the security man's face twisted into a retort as I handed him my passport. "Ah ah, what brings you to Nigeria?" "I'm here to see my dad." "Oh kayyyy... so he's a diplomatic somebody eh?" "No, he's Nigerian." "So, where is your Nigerian passport?" "Well I don't have one, my mom is Gambian and I..." A swift reply "My friend, you are a Nine-gerian, what is Gambia?! Come, you have to get a Nigerian passport oh!" I laughed genuinely at his tactless, yet goodnatured humor.

Street in the Village (which is pretty much a town now)

The official language of Nigeria, contrary to popular belief, is not English. It is Pidgin. Pidgin is a sort of "broken English" that everyone in Nigeria speaks. I love the language, and have managed to keep my fluency away from my Fatherland. I held an entire conversation with the taxi driver before the 6 hour bus ride to Ibadan. Everything is funnier in Pidgin I realized, as the man quipped, "Officer want take all my money finish, say im no get lunch, see im belle like oil rig" shortly after delivering a bribe to a jolly looking police officer. The police are something like the scum of Nigeria. Their pockets go deeper than the frequent potholes that decorate the highways and they will ask for a bribe as easily as they will ask for licence and registration.

As we started off on the highway, a passenger surprised me. "Make we pray" he said loudly and bowed his head along with the other passengers on the bus. I was the only one looking puzzled, and so I quickly copied my fellow bus riders and bowed my head. What followed is best described as a Sunday church service - nothing exluded. The volunteer prayed and prayed and prayed, quoting various scriptures that were applicable to journey mercies, safety, protection, and other related things. At the "Amen", I began to look up, and another passenger cut me off with a prayer of her own. She covered all the things Volunteer One had covered and then some, and ended her prayer by leading us into a series of songs. When the worship was over, I wanted to be like the rest of the passengers and settle into a comfortable position but I was too stirred. I spent the rest of the ride trying to figure out who had gotten the whole "freedom of religion" thing right; we or the western world. 

Craft Market - that's snake skin :-/

The most fascinating thing about returning to Nigeria after fourteen years was going to the market. I had not completely lost my ability to haggle with prices, so I was able to leave the country with some money in my purse, but I could tell I was getting ripped off. You can only ever get them to go down as far as half of the "original" price, so the first price they give you is enough to let you know whether you will be ripped off or not. Of course, being a visitor, I couldn't bank on being able to buy whatever it is that I wanted later, so it was then or never. It didn't matter whether I dressed in traditional garb or intensified my accent, somehow they could tell that I did not run fluidly with the rest of the nation, that I was out of sync, albeit by a few milliseconds.  

 I bought a painting (another sure sign of being a tourist) from the craft market for double of what any God-fearing individual would have charged and beamed as I took it home. Somehow, I felt that they were justified in charging me so much. After all, here I was, able to travel abroad and able to shop and have an expensive cell phone, and they were only trying to make ends meet. This is another touristy trait. The sense of guilty pity you have for the true sons of the soil that causes you to smile and shrug as they bleed every penny out of your pockets. I had not been cheated, I reasoned, I had only done my share of alms giving for the day. In reality I was not doing anyone a favor. Not my dad, who had dished out the cash, and not even the seller. Who was I to make someone who was working for his living into a beggar for my own self satisfaction?

Obviously a foreigner.

(To be continued)