11 Oct 2019
Joel 1:13-15, 2:1-2
Priests, put on sackcloth and lament. Ministers of the altar, wail.
Come, pass the night in sackcloth, you ministers of my God. For the house of our God has been deprived of oblation and libation.
Order a fast, proclaim a solemn assembly; elders, call together all the inhabitants of the country to the house of the Lord your God.
Cry out to the Lord, ‘Oh, what a day! For the day of the Lord is near, it comes as a devastation from Shaddai.’
Sound the trumpet in Zion, give the alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the country tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming, yes, it is near.
Day of darkness and gloom, day of cloud and blackness. Like the dawn there spreads across the mountains a vast and mighty host, such as has never been before, such as will never be again to the remotest ages.
When Jesus had cast out a devil, some of the people said, ‘It is through Beelzebul, the prince of devils, that he casts out devils.’ Others asked him, as a test, for a sign from heaven; but, knowing what they were thinking, he said to them, ‘Every kingdom divided against itself is heading for ruin, and a household divided against itself collapses. So too with Satan: if he is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? – Since you assert that it is through Beelzebul that I cast out devils. Now if it is through Beelzebul that I cast out devils, through whom do your own experts cast them out? Let them be your judges then. But if it is through the finger of God that I cast out devils, then know that the kingdom of God has overtaken you. So long as a strong man fully armed guards his own palace, his goods are undisturbed; but when someone stronger than he is attacks and defeats him, the stronger man takes away all the weapons he relied on and shares out his spoil.
‘He who is not with me is against me; and he who does not gather with me scatters.
‘When an unclean spirit goes out of a man it wanders through waterless country looking for a place to rest, and not finding one it says, “I will go back to the home I came from.” But on arrival, finding it swept and tidied, it then goes off and brings seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and set up house there, so that the man ends up by being worse than he was before.’
He who is not with me is against me
I grew up with my grandaunt, who taught me always to be kind to people around me. She was a wonderful role model for me. I learned from her how to take care of others. I remember how she used to go out of her way to take care of a relative who was addicted to opium. She would cook for him and take a bus down to make sure he had food to eat, and to also clean his place.
I have always taken the position that in addition to being kind, the additional thing we need to do is to not do evil. As a Christian, this had been my practice for many years.
I began to be aware that such an approach is insufficient in the life of being a Christian. In particular, I heard a sermon by our Archbishop William Goh. He was talking about the danger of being lukewarm; about not being ‘hot’ nor ‘cold’ in our faith. Rather than taking a stand, Bishop was emphasizing the need for us to be strong in our faith and to demonstrate it.
I must have read this Gospel of Luke countless times. Yet, it was only when I was preparing for this reflection that the latter parts (verses 21 and 24) spoke to me. All of a sudden, I see the close link between the dangers of lukewarm-ness and the lack of one’s conviction in faith.
What can I do in order to be stronger in my faith? For one, I recognise the need to guard against the ‘little things’. Sin tends to overcome us in small movements and I realised how important it was to be on guard at all times. An amazing song I recently heard is one by Casting Crowns — “Slow Fade” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QASREBVDsLk)
Let us stand guard and be strong. Let us be convicted in our faith. Let us take our side with the Lord, and do so convincingly.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)
Prayer: We pray that we will always be unafraid to stand up for our faith. That we will allow others to see it in full glory.
Thanksgiving: We are grateful for the freedom that being with You brings, Father God. Thank You for showing us that we need to be courageous in our faith!