Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Good Friday – A Look at Gain-Loss in Life

Allen Tan stands in front of an Olive Tree at Garden of the Bay in Singapore

By Pastor Allen Tan

It is a common practice for believers of Jesus Christ to immerse themselves in a state of deep thoughts at the Passion Week. They will try to capture the reason why Jesus as the Son of God could forsake the splendor of Heaven and came to die for mankind.

In a time of mishap today, let us cherish each and every day. The recent incident of MAS MH370 has provided us with a lesson in pondering about gain-loss in life. I am not disrespectful for the crew members and passengers as well as their loved ones. The Roman Catholic and Christian Church have been praying for them without ceasing, including Pope Francis, who has also led their parishioners in prayer. However, compared with the Buddhists, we did not get as much publicity by the media as they.

We ought to always value the people around us, and get our heart prepared for whatever unforeseen mishap that might happen. I admired the Muslims, that they viewed life and death as the will of God, thus their minds were open towards life and death.  Whenever I was flying abroad, I would tell my wife where her passport was placed. I would also write down on the calendar my flight numbers and my contacts overseas. Because should there be anything happened to me, she would not be too frantic to fumble about for her passport and subsequently do not know what to do. Then she could fly over to handle my matter.  I would always buy travel insurance too, as the insurance offered by the airlines are only covered for flights. But when you were alighted from the plane, the airline insurance will no longer apply. However, travel insurance would safeguard your hospital bill in a foreign land which could be amounted to thousands of Dollars. This is committing responsibility to your family members, and a show of love towards them.

Human beings are the most outstanding among all creatures, thus they are the most complicated among living things too! We would fight fiercely over money, fame and positions, but at the end of the day when we gained much, it was all emptiness! There is no harm just looking around, most people spent their best years in life just to gain these things, but one day they were knocked down by illness. They spent a large sum of their “hard-earned” money on medical bills. When they got well, they wanted to rise up to gain these earthly treasures once more, only to find that they were too old to fight with the young and mighty!

While Jesus was on earth He was the best role model for us. He emerged to preach officially at the age of 30. He has declared His status as “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but I have nowhere to lay my head.” With such a disregard of worldly things, is not it a vast contrast to the fierce fight by the world over livelihood?

The malady of human beings is to seek for reward over kindness offered, if not, they would harp on the matter. For those who had received favor from Him, Jesus did not mind whether they would return Him favor or not. Even when people returned Him evil for good, He chose to remain silent by praying to His Father. He only cared that they received help, period! I am always grateful to those who have left their comfortable homes and served as Missionaries in other countries. I admired Mother Teresa especially. And many of them had even sacrificed their lives and families. They had lived up to the model of Jesus.

Next time when you are upset for being unappreciative by others over your contributions to them, you might as well think of those great men and women of God. In Christian doctrines, the teachings are just the reverse of the philosophies of the world. If you want to ‘gain’ you must first to ‘lose’, and to ‘lose’ is actually to ‘gain’. It is too hard to grasp? Not at all! Even as to making friends, there is no guarantee that friends are always friends. Even for Judas, one who had lived with Jesus for three years plus, could turn out to be a betrayer of Him for 30 pieces of silver! One of the best quotes by Warren Buffet goes like this, “In the process of growing in age, we are not losing some friends, but rather, we come to know who our actual real friends are.” As such, we should take life easy in our day-to-day walk, and we ought to not hate the mercenary-type of friends, just as Jesus did not hate Judas.

Some people thought it was regrettable that Jesus had only lived a short life of 33 years. Though Jesus’ ministry was only 3 year plus, an early death was not regrettable as He has finished His mission as a Sacrificial Lamb for the sins of mankind! From thence the Gospel was preached by His disciples for two thousand years until now. In fact, as early as 3,400 years ago, Moses had already declared that the average lifespan of mankind is 70 years. True, everybody has to face the fate of life, age, illness and death. Life is temporal on earth, as such, do not harp on gain-loss in life! Xing Yun, the Elder Monk from Taiwan Buddhist Fo Guang Temple, in his recent trip in Malaysia, had made a statement which was really thought-provoking for me. He said we should not use “life, age, illness and death” to view life which would result yourself being negative. Instead we should use “age, illness, death and life” to view life so as to bring hope. Apply it in Christian doctrine, it is a fact that mankind was punished with age, illness and death over their sins, but it was also a fact that the death of Jesus has brought life (eternal life) to mankind!

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