Growing up Jesus Sensibilities were affected most deeply by the poor, by the powerless, and the oppressed- in short by the underdogs.
– Philip Yancey , from the Jesus I never Knew.
Commoners.. I repeat that word over again.. Commoners. I wonder what it means..?
I can answer my own question in a way; They are people who believe that their culture is the way in which they have to approach life and living. That is one way of looking at them, the other way is the nature of their often times ignorant, blunt and cynical opinions about people who are different from them. They are mostly impatient, you can see them in jobs that require clothing choices that are spectacularly devoid of popular appeal. They are sincere in the most indecent of ways, they seem self contained, rarely are they expressive and most of them are completely immersed in the personality psychology of a particular role.
I find myself reading what I have just written. I don’t know if I have captured the essence of what that word represents. I did not consult a dictionary or the opinion of an academic. I simply searched my own experiences and observations and formulated what I believe is a definition of that term. I tend not to go with the conventional opinion. I wish to analyze it with my own gut and instincts, I like to experience things for myself. Most of what people write seems to be crafted for the sensibilities of the educated, to those who view the world as an information hub, and assume such information’s to contribute to the knowledge that shapes their thoughts and their worldviews.
Although when I read my own definition, I can only capture the essence of their behavioral inclinations. I wonder if they are like me in a way…? I wonder what they think about the world and its people..? I wonder if the idealistic and biblical notion that we all are one can apply in a reality based framework…? There are so many inherent factors in each social civilization that are teaching people to behave in a particular way, so many philosophical mannerisms that people adopt to cope with the affectations of everyday living, then there is the great inner voice that shapes the attitudes of the individual.
Everyday I have to deal with this inward sense of turmoil when I wake up. I wake up at 12 in the afternoon, the day is already filled with the light of the sun, and during midday the sun’s rays turn heavy and begin to heat things up, I wouldn’t compare it to a stove.. not now anyway… It is September, and so far this month has only seen cloudy masses hang over the surface of the upper heavens. There have been rainy spells, scattered showers, consistent gray skies, it is all quite mood lifting actually. But it has stopped many of our Sunday afternoon cricket matches when I am in town, and halted many of my midnight basketball matches when I head over to the city.
My deepest question is that if I should call someone as a commoner..? What differentiates him from me..? Is it based on my lifestyle..? Or is it some arrogant assumption that my academic qualifications have somehow lifted me higher..? Because that contradicts the Biblical command that all men are equal. This question posed itself chiefly since I was probing the nature of social status that my Lord Jesus took when He chose to be incarnated. He chose the most lowliest family, his father was a simple carpenter and his mother was an ordinary housewife. I get so caught up in personalizing details of my life that I miss the bigger picture that God wishes to communicate to me about. He is interested in everyone, and I MEAN every single ONE of us that there is. That includes drug dealers, hate filled bureaucrats, lazy people, terrorists, lesbians, gay men, transgenders, cross dressers, pimps, prostitutes, middle class men, the poor, the homeless, the destitute, drug addicts, serial killers, psychopaths, alcoholic wife beaters and the list goes on and on. I can only marvel in sheer fear, how can God love men who are so evil..? I remind myself that I have been no better than many of the people on this list, but I question God’s love for me as well… This world has conditioned me towards limited, conditional love that I can only question, unreasonable, unconditional love and acceptance.
The problem is that the spiritual realm has been sealed off from our view for some divine reason, and as much as it deeply saddens me and aggravates me, I can do little to peer beyond the world of the senses. My managing director, a shrewd and grounded Christian was recently telling me that it was possible that souls who committed suicide wandered here on earth, they had still not reached the stipulated time, they were to wander and roam restlessly in his opinion. I asked him if he knew how dangerous his position was, since that view would open the doors for contacting such souls. He seemed to not be attentive to the implication that I posed, but I wondered if the way in which he interpreted scripture was true. I hold on to the view that after a man’s life is done, he is escorted into God’s presence and asked to give an account of his life.
The reasoning that there is a great and sinister evil who derives great pleasure in watching people suffer should be a great case for alarm, and this reality includes the victims of child abuse, includes the poverty that is a serious evil that forces its sufferers to the extremities of life, it derives happiness of making souls burn without any respite in Hell, it derives great joy in cleverly afflicting the world with cheap ideologies and philosophies all centered on the self, that make people move away from God and into vague relationships with themselves and with dark forces. I wonder why people are not making videos of these and posting it online..? I wonder why first take of ESPN doesn’t debate these issues..? I hear them psychoanalyzing Lebron’s hairline most of the time, why can’t they employ that dazzling showmanship and arguments for a cause that can actually save lives…? The name of Jesus is so powerful that it can bring someone who was clinically dead for three days, His magnificent name can cast out all demons of hell from a possessed soul, but instead I find it used as fashionable cuss word in Hollywood movies. When will the world know that we truly and deeply need Jesus..?
Satan is viewed by many to be a trickster, a friendly foe who is waging a war with God and humans are just in the way. He is not interested in humans, but if one were to take the Bible seriously, and perhaps even for a short time assess their lives honestly they can find such a deep evil that has permeated our known universe. During the nights I find myself deeply aware of something sinister and cruel that is out there on the streets, roaming and searching for whom they can devour. But the Bible has some clear names for Satan, as the Father of lies, as the first murderer, as the one who messed up Godly views about sexuality, morality, life and faith. There are clearly two directly different histories that are running side by side, humanists and historians gush over the advances of modern civilization, but Biblical history clearly reveals an impending doom that is slowly sneaking up on all humankind. All of man’s greatest inventions will mean little when he faces the Great Judge to whom he cannot lie. All of man’s greatest moments will mean little when faced with the dire question of his eternal fate, what will he do then..?
Sometimes I feel like asking atheists if their philosophies hold ground. The true test of a philosopher is to see if they live out their theories. Atheists derive great happiness in being blind to the probing eternal questions and fill their minds with all sorts of intellectual nonsense that hardly makes any sense whatsoever. I am not venting here, I am just being real and honest. And my question is this … Why don’t people seek God…?
I feel like I am severely underestimating God’s might sometimes. I stay awake late into the night and though portions of Psalms 91 deeply speak to me, especially the first part of verse 5 which goes like this, “Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night” … I find it strange that God’s voice differs through the translations, but I am glad to hear His voice, for I know that the Bible is a person and not a book, and that person is God… but I find myself sinking into a state of fear without an anchor or a burst on to the surface escaping the impending drowning… I am drawn into a bundle of childhood repressions and earthly awareness. My earthly awareness sadly fills me with countless stories of horror that I have absorbed through the years from television, from morbid accounts of murder from the newspapers, from unnecessary movies that have glorified evil instincts in mentally unhealthy men and women, with statistics and realities that have to be accepted. I find myself running towards Prayer, a discipline that I have sadly allowed to decrease in my life. Early on I would kneel down and pray about everything and anything, and I would end up feeling spiritually healthy and robust. But then my old fight with secret sins reappeared and stole me away from first love. My mindless preoccupation with mere information despite making me feel like I am doing something steals away the precious hours that I used to earlier seek the Lord with. I can’t express how much I love the Lord, I know that heartfelt and sincere expression cannot even measure the unconditional and ever present help that the Lord provides, but I find a great joy in reminding myself that I love the Creator of the world more than I love myself, and that despite all the failures of the recent past is a cause to rejoice.
On most nights I get by without fear, I browse for content to study, I go through difficult to digest atheist debates. I play my favorite video game, I watch a few basketball oriented videos to remind myself that I have a baller dormant within me. I analyze the footwork of my favorite players, watch their offensive techniques, and see how they react to defenses.. I immerse my mind with constant information, but none of these compare to truly spending time with the Lord. I have learned that that is where true power resides. The trouble is that power offered by God is rarely physical, it is most often spiritual. Which leads me to question whether all of our human afflictions and turmoils have a spiritual cure…? The world confuses the spiritual with meditation and yoga, the christian man knows in his heart that the spiritual is truly found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. There are so many vast and powerful secrets within the Christian faith and worldview. I can no longer read the Bible without drifting off into a delightful re-imagining of the culture, the mood and the context of history that it first arose in. Being a Christian in my life seems like such a personal torch to bear. There are no camera lenses that follow my journey, it is private and often secluded. I don’t go to church when I am in town, I sleep late on Saturdays… I wake up around 12 on Sundays and eat lunch with my family after enduring my mother’s fierce complaints about my lifestyle habits strategically expressed during my finishing hours of sleep. I wake up feeling guilty and slightly confused, I question my conscience which offers its usual blunt response that I should attend some church. I need a spiritual grounding it seems. I reply back arguing as usual that I can’t fit in, I’ve never fit in.. I remind my conscience that I have just deleted my mainframe egoistic foundations, and that I still have some passionate lifestyle assertions that I seek to follow. My conscience reminds me that I love hearing God’s word, I counter back saying that I can’t deal with constant reminders of Hell in fiery preacher’s sermons, my conscience tells me that that it is true and that I should not react to it but take it and follow the powerful revelations of a loving God. I tell my conscience that I can’t deal with large crowds, most often filled with fundamental or overtly conservative individuals, my conscience reminds me of my own past and reminds me that God loves everyone and that I should do the same. I tell the Lord that I will find a Church soon, I promise Him that.
I sense inwardly that I have been rejecting the local Church for the early years of emotional emptiness that I felt there many many years ago. There were negative incidents at the Church, and I always felt terribly bored by the songs, the worship, and by the sermons as well. They seemed to lack the life that I so desired. In the city I attend a more culturally relevant Church. Filled with air conditioning, with suave light colors and a type of sanctuary that is atypical of modern churches in the US, the worship time is truly a vibrant time to experience the spiritual cleansing that one seeks. But I am still finding my way through these experiences, I am an anomaly in some ways… I enjoy it sometimes, but I am a deep individual who questions everything… I can’t praise God in front of people who seem different from me.. But I love the feeling of being so bold about my faith in God, I feel glad that I don’t have the burden of encountering judgmental spirits that strip me of my courage. As unashamed and unapologetic as I am about my status as a Jesus Freak, I am still a mortal and finite person trapped in a 27 year old’s body. And that 27 year old has for the most part of his life lived two different lives, has battled with thoughts of suicide, has felt the deep scars of being rejected, scorned, emotionally neglected… I know that God releases me from these prisons, but I have my ways that I use to avoid pain at all costs, and I have become shy on account of them. I filter out people after carefully observing them, I am not judging them, but I am going with people who can build me up and not tear me down or wear me out day in and day out with their own issues, chiefly pride and arrogance.
People with pride don’t realize that they are control masters, expertly asserting their control and manipulative tendencies when it is time. Again I have my own history here as well, but I see what the Lord asks of me in this case. It is easy to love those who love you, love those who hate you, pray for those who despise you commands the Lord. And I am fine with that, I am terribly in love with all the tiny and demanding things of faith, I take great joy and passion in doing them… It is myself that I deeply mistrust, I constantly see myself as failing, I wait for me to screw up or lose face… I have become so used to experiencing these things that I can’t see myself without them.
Recently I have begun opening myself up to facing the pain that comes with someone who vehemently denies Christ as God. I earlier used to fear the emotional pain and agitation that came along with it, but now I find that I need to accept the individual for who he is and not worry about the venom of his words. I have a deep heart and it feels pain quite acutely and that is one of the reasons why I tended to avoid people who fought back, I would present the gospel to them once… I would tell them in simple detail the entire message of God and choose wisely to practice my faith in plain view… I wanted to truly follow Christ in my life and help them become drawn to that… It was by no means an exploitation… , I spent a great deal of time investing in these souls.. I asked God for favor in their eyes.. and I saw the fruits of the Lord’s blessing… but their hearts remained as cold, reactive and as defensive as possible. They did not burn with the same hunger that I had.
I have met my share of cold blooded atheists who were great threats to my faith in my early and lost years. I know people who derived great joy in destroying my love for God, they saw me as some primitive tribal man out of touch with reality , and living in a jungle under a rock. The World has changed, why have you not they would mock in intellectual scorn. They lacked emotional compassion and warmth, I allowed these individuals to greatly ridicule the Lord that I used to love in secret. I stare at myself in the mirror in disgust remembering those years of inward torment, I was so confused and I kept expecting the Lord to show up on my doorstep and explain why everything was happening. But He didn’t. I grew tired of shouldering the cross, I went undercover, I explored the outer rituals of Hinduism.. fell in love with a few strongly Hindu women owing to their strong traditional appeal…which led to further emotional turmoil and angst, dabbled with the knowledge of the occult and the paranormal, practiced Zen and Buddhism.. Pored over the philosophies of religious philosophers, and began to ask scathing questions about my faith… yet in my heart of hearts I could not abandon the Nazarene that I had so often called out for. I could not explain this peculiar love for God that swelled within me despite the crushing defeats of my early years. I played the usual blame game, but I found myself drawn to Him beyond the fear of ending up for eternity in Hell, beyond the disciplinary torments that were meted out to me by sincere followers of His, beyond every other reason that I could use as an excuse, I found myself drawn to God, I sought Him most sincerely in other faiths, wondering if it were multiple expression of the same deity.. But lo and behold, all other faiths seemed truly dull and their idealistic sages were cunning swindlers.
My usual routine over the past few months has been that of loading these really heavy books into my bike’s trunk, packing my laptop into my backpack with the charger, throwing a digital camera inside in case I need to take a picture of the skies or of some building that seems to stir some feeling of poetry within me, wake up around 12pm , get ready and eat in about 45 mins, plot a plan to reach the office by 1.30 but failing regularly…, sit on my bed and have a running conversation with the Lord and thank Him for a new day, ask Him for help with my coworkers, ask His help with my own character and personality, ask Him to protect my family members and ask Him to provide for our family… and then I rush off… this routine is done in a haphazard way.. the order of events vary of course, in variations of my moods and philosophical outlooks… except the final event where I drive to my office past the perennially moving main streets and into the inner plain roads that lead into deep and thick housing colonies.
I stare at the clock, just a couple of hours before dawn.. I have work tomorrow, people to teach, issues to resolve, ideas to communicate, souls to reach, stuff to discover, nature that I have to enjoy… I need to sleep and sleep good at that, so for now I will shut my brain and my fingers and revisit my psyche later on. Good night dear friend and fellow journeyman.
For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.