Apr 22

Unexpecting the Expected

It’s funny sometimes the ways in which God can teach us something completely unexpected. So often, regardless of how long or short we may have been a Christian, when we want to learn about something in particular, God will surprise us by teaching us something else, often more meaningful and powerful than we first expected.

Last year, I remember experiencing this when I was looking for an appropriate video message to show at a Youth Service. Based on the title and general content of the video, I thought the message might teach us about the ways in which our church could be more biblical. In the end, it helped me think about that, but I also walked away thinking about something related, but different – how if our church and Christians worldwide were more biblical and united in purpose, love and spirit like the early church, there would be less negative connotations surrounding Christians and more people who would actively seek to be a part of the church, without an invitation! However, we should be careful in this thinking as the Bible also kept accounts of some of the challenges and difficulties the early church faced, some of which aren’t so different to what the church faces today, which I believe to be in part, a form of encouragement for us to continue persevering, with God’s help, in our efforts to be a community worthy to be considered the “bride” of Christ.

When I think of examples of this unexpectedness in the Bible, I am reminded of a rich man and his conversation with Jesus, recorded in Matthew 19:16-22.

16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” 17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 “Which ones?” he inquired. Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”

20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

I can’t say for sure, but when I read this I feel like the rich man when first asking his question is seeking to affirm that he is good enough to earn eternal life. He seems to be asking from the viewpoint that he has already done a lot of “good” and therefore deserves it. However, Jesus teaches him something he didn’t expect – that though he was a good man, he was still not perfect because he struggled with the thought of sharing his material “good” to those in need.

God certainly has creative ways of teaching us things – sometimes through trials and tribulations, through the word of God itself or through modern-day prophets you have come across in your life. Regardless of the transport medium, we must always be ready and eager to learn what God has to teach us, because often, it may not be what we were expecting to learn in the first place!

-Tim Fong