The Good News
Our Monthly Newsletter
This is How We Love God and God’s People!
From the Rector’s Study
A wise man once told me, “We are who we are. Time only makes us more so.” I had thought it meant my usual self became more amplified as I grew older and did not expect it to suggest changes. The Diversity Game, a program to assess individual character types in group dynamics, showed a significant difference in mine at the vestry retreat this year. The past sessions always resulted in solid creativity and emotions, but this year’s shifted one-eighty to a more pragmatic consensus-building problem solver. While finding such a change was not all that surprising, what intrigued me the most was the impact of different team dynamics on such a shift, like a ripple effect. It reminded me of the social work 101 of human development in the social environment. We are who we are, and time only makes us more so; however, becoming who we are does not mean amplifying our self-image stuck in our heads. Instead, our personhood is shaped in new ways through relationships with others, like a piece of pottery and God being the potter. As such, becoming more of a person that God calls us to be requires so much of letting go – of stubbornness understood as “determination,” personal baggage disguised as “experiences,” pretentiousness as “competency,” and insecurity as “self-awareness.” We discern God’s will planted in us by letting go of the self-promoted image of our being.
Apostle Peter is a great example to learn about this. Peter always assumed he knew his role and what Jesus wanted him to be. When the crowd gathered around Jesus, Peter became his bouncer. Seeing Jesus praying with Moses and Elijah, he offered to build tents. When Jesus offered to wash his feet, Peter told him it should be the other way. When Jesus foretold him about his denial, he could not bear what Jesus said about him. Peter wanted to be Jesus’ favorite and tried hard to be a good role model. Only after he realized Jesus accepted him for who he was did Peter start listening to God and growing into God’s agent of peace to carry out the Good News, not for his own sake but for Jesus’. He had to let go of his pride and stubborn assumption to let God transform Peter.
We are no different from Peter in many ways. We often set selfish goals for ourselves and try to live accordingly. Succeeding to live this way sometimes brings joy, but only temporarily. When we fail, disappointment quickly discourages us and makes us look for tender loving care. God wants us to listen to Him more and allow Him to shape us to be an agent of peace rather than constantly negotiating with Him to seek an A+ for a self-promoted gold star discipleship. Perhaps God looks for us bravely coming out of our hardened shells, sharing our vulnerable selves, and loving the world in ways He intended rather than us being His zealous bouncers. Our job is to be His moistened clay flexible to be shaped into instruments as He sees fit. Love is the way we keep ourselves malleable. Jesus teaches us to choose love. That is why we are called to love God and one another. As we identify as Christians, may we always have ears to listen to His message of Love and let God transform our lives so that we may serve His purpose here on earth accordingly.