February 13, Sunday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on October 30, 2014.

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“A Life of Immigrant”

Phil. 3:20a

“But our citizenship is in heaven.”

No matter how well the children of Asian immigrants are assimilated into the American society, some Americans will always differentiate them because of their physical appearance.  A frustrated University of Missouri senior once wrote to a local newspaper: “I am an American.  AMERICAN.  I’ve spent a large portion of my life trying to convince people of this. . . . Yes, I’ll admit that my parents are Korean immigrants, but I was born—and made—in the USA . . .. Everyone assumes Americans come in only two flavors, chocolate and vanilla.  Even if you arrived from Tanzania or Iceland two hours ago, you get the benefit of the doubt. . . . I’ve had people compliment me on my English.  Shucks, it’s only my native language. . . . Second-class treatment like this has made a lot of American-born Asians and Latinos ashamed of their heritage in a way that other Americans aren’t . . ..” 

The issue here is one of identity and acceptance.  And as long as our primary identity is defined by our earthly affiliations, such as ethnicity, gender and/or social status, while a “permit” may be given to pass one entrance of acceptance, sooner or later, we will be kept from entering another because of our differences.  

The Bible, of course, is not silent on this matter.  Joseph and Daniel, two outstanding heroes of faith in ancient Israel, had a common experience of being thrust into a pagan world of Egypt and Babylonia, respectively, as young men.  As a result, several unfavorable changes were forced upon them, including the name change: Daniel was called Belteshazzar, meaning favored by pagan god Bel, while Joseph’s name was changed to Zaphenath-paneah—the meaning being unclear (Gn. 41:44); however, nothing could rattle them.  Why? Because their primary identity derived from their conviction that they belonged to a people with whom God established a covenant of love and affection based on His goodness (Deut. 7:6-8).  Thus, no matter how hard life became, they never forgot to whom they belonged: God.

Thus, while Joseph was still as a prisoner, he declared this to Pharaoh, who was then the most powerful person in the world but disturbed by the meaning of his dreams: “I cannot [interpret] it,. . . but God will . . . (Gn. 41:16). Likewise, Daniel, facing death if he was not able to interpret the king’s dream, said: “No wise man . . . or diviners can explain to the king the mystery he was asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries (Dan. 2:27-8).

Of course, no one should discount the stress and even worse things that may result from not being readily accepted due to racial, gender, and/or social difference.  However, when our primary identity is derived from our citizenship in heaven, not only can we cope better, but are motivated to take part in our efforts to make our society better, not as social crusaders but as “Christ’s ambassadors” (2 Cor. 5:20).  

So, think about a way to make our society better, today.  It may be cleaning up the corner of our neighborhood.

Prayer: Dear God, I praise and thank You this morning for all that You have done for me, particularly the fact that You have given me the citizenship in heaven through Your Son Jesus Christ. Help me to be a responsible citizen of heaven in the way I live my life to expand Your kingdom on earth. Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today:Isaiah 48

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