I was driven with a spirit of entrepreneurship while in college. I took Economics due to a personal mission to amass wealth. I somehow imbibed the ancient penchant for superstitious alliance in order to insure my projected dividends. The smorgasbord of eclectic soothsayers informed my daily calculations. From horoscopes to mantras, I was East to West in divergent accommodation.
The Pope was visiting the city and I remember, having a vision (or was it just a dream) to milk the opportunity for financial gain. I was enthused with an idea to convince our School Administrator to have all students wear a theme shirt on the day of his eminence’s appearance. I was too driven to accommodate a rejection. And so I coerced a negotiation to supply the school community with my crafted merchandise. Boxes of shirts were produced from personally outsourced capitalization. The macroeconomic scheme was quite in play: my friends and relatives bought into my lucrative proposal. All shirts were delivered and worn with divine glee.
After the sacred festival, the depravity of human complacency took over. The supply and demand chain was shot. There was drought in the collectibles. I went bankrupt and disillusioned with the irrational loss. The investors saw my personal descent into embarrassment. I was not able to deliver my word.
Whoever god it was who played its trick while I was in deep slumber was truly a genius in planned catastrophe. I sought to redeem my bruised integrity by resorting to alibis but to no avail. It had nothing to do with mercantile system. It was all due to the myopia of how I misread the damn crystal ball.
I never reckoned how crazy the gods might be. But with my economic bludgeon, whatever confidence I had in securing any business stall somehow evaporated in a mist of brutal surrender.
Nothing holds. Nothing bonds. I was simply doomed not to cash in but to crash in isolation amidst a self-serving community who is merely practicing the virtues of social necessity on top of my own greed and quantitative ineptness.
A song of ascents. Of David.
How good and pleasant it is
when brothers live together in unity!
It is like precious oil poured on the head,
running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron’s beard,
down upon the collar of his robes.
It is as if the dew of Hermon
were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the LORD bestows his blessing,
Even life forevermore.
My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
John 17:20-21 NIV
The call to unity serves as the penultimate anchor in our syllabus in order to establish the very foundation that keeps our life with God secure. Conversion to Christ involves integration into a true community.
The personal nature of one’s submission to the lordship of Jesus Christ finds its deepest meaning when one enters into covenant relationship with a church in order to get involved in the experience of Body life. As we are one with Christ, we are called to share deep life with kindred believers, who by virtue of our blood affinity with Christ’s atonement, are now our brothers and sisters in God’s family. To this incredible adoption, we hear the affirmation of the Psalmist: “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!”
It is important to see the crucial aspect of this life together within the context of active nurture. The sweetness of this God-given familial arrangement implores a sacred kind of togetherness that simulates the unity of the Triune God. It is the kind of living that is devoid of schemes and hidden agenda. There is no shrewd commerce involved, nor any type of religious power play. What is being admonished is beyond ethnocentrism: it is a gathering of adopted children, who are currently living out the amazing grace-laden status they now possess. As such, there is freedom to treat each other with utmost decency.
The regard for others in the community of faith is likened to the respect that is granted to the oil-drenched Aaron upon ordination as God’s anointed priest. We take to heart the reality of our new identity as a special people, chosen by mercy and not by merit. With sacred expectations, we look at each other with a disposition of holiness, truly believing that our compassionate God has likewise chosen our brethren. The fragrance of such awareness is precious in the sight of the LORD. As we commit to such, the unity of believers takes on a new form: a sweet holiness that is both good and pleasant!
Such existence is likewise seen as a reflection of the constant refreshment Mt. Hermon receives daily. The mountain dew speaks of the organic newness of every single day that is granted to God’s creation. There is a sense of excitement as we anticipate the on-going transformation of our lives gathered together. We are being admonished to stay distant from the conventions of the world, which by default sort out humans based on pre-conceived labels. Humans were not created to reside in catalogued boxes but were placed in God’s house in order to increasingly grow in wild expectation. In the community of faith, we are called toward each other, while praying through all the adjustments and changes that shall take place, by virtue of Christ’s work in our lives.
The blessings of God abound in the context of living together as God’s children. Christian community is not an option that works only for the socially gregarious. It is for all who claim to be God’s children. As the call to unite with one another comes with a blessing, the source from which it is lived out comes from Christ Himself. We are able to love one another within community because of Christ’s enduring example. As he remains at the very center of our gathered community, we are given a guaranteed assurance that we shall never fall apart.
With Christ at the headship of our community, through and through, ours is an ever-glowing manifestation of God’s work of beauty, as though in a Bride, well taken-cared of, well loved, well bonded.
Stewart was your perfect puppy. The Shih-Tzu’s intelligent quotient was pretty impressive. He was quite popular in the neighborhood as the early riser who gallops like Secretariat. He was my wife’s delight. If there were one slip, it would be his obvious misreading of his canine identity: he really thought of himself as some commodious pit bull … ferociously loyal to his master.
It was a bright Sunday morning when his zest left with unfazed valor. My wife and the kid were on their early morning stroll when two unleashed pit bulls attacked without warning. The little soldier took it to the ring, while being mercilessly routed. It was a brutal day for our family. I buried the hero, while weeping gallons of gloom for such a cruel end.
It was a season to heal, and so I got my wife a present: two pups that should provide good balm: Teddy and Gracie.
Stewart was beyond compare, but the new duo infused renewed perk to our home. Whenever we took them out for daily walks, it was always with optimized caution and organized vigilance.
It had been two years since, and trauma had clearly dissipated. We were enjoying the nice spring breeze, each with our leashed pets, when the menacing sight emerged: Déjà vu! There were two un-leased pit bulls approaching our path!
I did not quite notice the owner who was lagging behind the corner. Suddenly, I heard a commanding voice. The beasts froze to a halt, resembling two marble statues that neither turned either ways, not even to a wink or a wag. The gentleman, who had the stance of Collin Powell with firm gentleness, assured us: “Friends, do not fear. They will not move. Please walk on by. My voice is stronger than any leash.” We crossed the line, amazed by such a defining moment. When we were about several yards away, the gentleman spoke to his loyalists: “Alright now, boys, let’s go.”
God’s alleys seem dangerous but truly safe and grand. He allows his children passages through valleys of death for a reason. I suddenly realized that it’s not about being a pit bull or a dachshund. It’s not about our orientation from the ghetto or the Hampton’s. It is all about the leash and who decides to let go of it, when deemed appropriate.
We only devour each other, when there is no such Master to call our actions into proper accountability. This is so true in the context of community. Left without a guiding lead, each breaks out to his own. But then, with a True Center, everything holds together. Life is lived in its full potential: people experiencing genuine care one for each other.
One day, hopefully, Teddy and Gracie will be seen strolling, without any restricting rope. Simply free with unbridled obedience and playfulness to and fro, our little village.
The little guy Stewart would have loved to see such a day.