June 4th, 2019

How my Journey began…

My first recollections were of me as a 4-year-old, living in a small island of Korea, walking barefoot.  I see images of my older cousins looking like giants, and of a girl I thought was a princess, wearing shiny red shoes.  Of making houses with stackable books, of burning my thigh with hot soup…  and of closing my eyes at night, and seeing a multitude of stars in the sky.  And asking, “Why are we born?”  “What is the purpose of our existence?” 

I also remember seeing a statue of a crucified Christ at the Catholic Church we attended in Argentina. It was intriguing to say the least.  I was very introverted, so I filled my days reading books.  I used to fall in love with the characters, and day dream about them. 

Then one day, I happened to see a New Testament Bible.  I started reading out of curiosity, and I became like Alice in Wonderland.  Suddenly, life looked more beautiful, more meaningful.  I was only 13 years old.

However, soon after, I started questioning the entire Bible and rejected God.  I felt that God was unfair, in choosing Jacob over Essau, Judah over Joseph.  He was sexist, choosing mostly men, even flawed men like Samson!

Then in High School, my best friend told me about Jesus.  The mere mention of His Name sparked in me a longing.  I realized I missed Him and deep down, I really wanted to believe in Him.  So I went to the Library every afternoon, looking for books about Him. 

I cannot recall the exact names, but I remember reading a book written by a Roman Catholic Priest, one by an agnostic Historian, one by a Seventh Adventist (THE DESIRE OF AGES by Ellen White), one by a philosopher (BLAISE PASCAL). 

I also read a book that talked about the 5 main religions of the world (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism).  The main premise was to show that all the five religions had different rituals and traditions, but that the goals were the same.  They all taught us to live a good life.  I understood the author’s point.  I just could not agree with him because he was describing Christianity by mentioning the Sacraments and Rituals alone.  It was like describing a book by its cover.  He didn’t understand about Jesus.

It was only after I went to College, I finally learned the doctrine of Salvation by Faith and Faith Alone.  ? And I learned that God’s choices are not merit based. Still, I continued questioning God’s justice.  “How could a loving God show Himself to some People, but NOT TO Others?  What about my Korean ancestors?  Didn’t they deserve this gift of Salvation as much as the Jewish did?  So I challenged God to persuade me once for all that He was there, or else, I was going to stop praying to Him. 

Lo and behold, like a week later, Campus Crusade For Christ sent me “MORE THAN A CARPENTER” (by Josh McDowell).  Short and easy to understand, the author himself was a skeptic who turned to Jesus after doing research.  Point by point, he answered all the questions and doubts I was having.

Other books shaped and sealed my faith deeper.  C.S. Lewis “MERE Christianity.”  And later his “Perelandra.”  “The Jesus I Never Knew” by Philip Yancey broke down all pre-conceived notions and showed me the Jesus for the underdogs.  The friend of ‘sinners.’     

I was also shaped by biographies from missionaries and martyrs.  Their lives are filled with the footsteps of Jesus.  Corrie Ten Boom’s “The Hiding Place” or Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s life.

I know it is popular to say:  “I believe in Jesus but I don’t like religion.” It is also popular to “imagine” all religions coming together, or people coming together doing away with religion.  Like in John Lennon’s song “Imagine.”

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too

But this song is romanticizing living without purpose, having no passions, no goals.  Religion, just like philosophy, was created by men, because we have an inherent desire to know God and find meaning in life.  Thus, the author who described the main 5 religions as being the same, and having same goal (living a morally good life) was right, except in one thing:  Jesus is not a religion created by men.

All religions are very similar.  It is men’s way of going up to Heaven, becoming better by doing good deeds.  But true Christianity is not about us living a morally good life.  The message of the Gospel is the Good News, that GOD HIMSELF came down from Heaven, and that He revealed Himself to us.  To Forgive us and to Save us.  This is His love letter to us.

John 3:16 NIV – For God so loved the world that he gave – Bible Gateway

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

So that, when we understand and receive that message of Salvation, we may no longer be enslaved to sin, but be free.  No longer living like fugitives on the run, but like adopted children of God.  Once we understand this, our entire life will change.  And we will remember Jesus’s command (Matthew 28:19)

New International Version
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

This is the reason I share this.  The reason I opened this blog.  God bless you!

The Journey Begins

Last Saturday, May 25th, 2019, I went to watch the much anticipated Play “JESUS” at The Sight & Sounds Theaters in Lancaster, PA.  High expectation is a sure ticket to disappointment.  Was I?  Let me just say this.  Watching this show prompted me to write a review, which I haven’t done in a while.  But more importantly, it prompted me to open a blog.  So that I can recount my long journey together, walking with Jesus:  Finding Jesus.  

The curtains opened.  Colorful scenery, multi-dimensional landscapes, filled with music and laughter. My 3 year-old restless son was sitting on my lap,  demanding attention.  I was holding him tight, tensed, afraid he would cry.  Suddenly, there he was, the character of Jesus.  I started to relax.  Handsome, young, ordinary.  Down to earth, friendly, human.  I liked him already. 

Then, slowly, the Jesus character started growing, becoming bigger than the waves of the sea.  Or more commanding than the storms.  Eloquent in his story-telling, witty and funny.  Self-righteous in his anger towards the teachers of the law, but compassionate and forgiving towards the underdogs.  And so very…  personal.  Calling (and knowing) their names.   Leaving the 99, to go after the 1 lost sheep.  Trying to save the one demon possessed, all cursed man.  Touching the Leper.  Holding onto the blind man.  

The play was written to show how Jesus Rescues.  I was able to see Jesus the super-hero.  In fact, I love super-hero movies, but there is no one who can surpass Jesus in power or in heroism.  Yet he is also an anti-hero.  A hero who stops fighting.  A hero who walks straight to his own doom.  A hero who dies “abandoned by God.”  Because of love.

I was afraid how this play will depict the crucifixion.  I didn’t want another “The Passion of the Christ” where the physical pain Jesus suffered was portrait so gruesomely, it felt unrealistic.  In the block-buster movie by Mel Gibson, viewers didn’t realize the most painful thing Christ suffered at the cross was being rejected by God His own Father.  But in this play, I was struck by the prayer of Jesus at Gethsemane.  Satan was there to sway him.  And Jesus was weak.  Already.  Too weak to fight Satan.  He was getting ready to become the Sacrificial Lamb.  He was feeling the weight of the world’s sins.  Thus burdened and tired, he was almost begging his closest friends to watch and pray with him.  Wow!   

I first encountered Jesus when I stumbled upon a New Testament Bible when I was 13 years old.  I was amazed by the Jesus in the Gospels, and He became like the most intriguing, elusive character in history ever.  I had collected many movies of Jesus, and read many books about Him, written by Christians and non-Christians alike.  I was able to discern the biblical perspectives of Jesus against those who rejected His deity.

Many times in my past, Jesus wooed me nearer:  Like a Knight in Shining Armor.  Whenever that happened, the world looked more beautiful, or at least more bearable.  Pain and rejection felt like the cross Jesus already foretold us we would carry if we follow Him.  So it was OK. It was during those times, I can honestly say I was the happiest, and most fulfilled.  Like when we finally understand our destiny and purpose in life:  To Worship God and to Enjoy Him Forever.

But the toiling of this world is filled with many temptations.  And we are short of memory.  I tend to forget this passion so easily, this first love.  After getting married and having kids, my family became my priority.  God and prayer took a back seat.  I believed in God, of course.  But I had no energy to pray hard.  Only whispers at night.  Mere “help me Jesus.”  This was no true worship, or building a relationship with Him.

Watching this “Jesus” Play rekindled that forgotten fire within.  I realized Jesus was wooing me again.  Before watching, part of me felt that I already know this story inside out, and that nothing will surprise me.  But from the moment the curtains rose, I was introduced to Jesus’ story through the eyes of His followers.  How enthralled they were with Jesus, how enamored they were.  And as I continued watching, this story became my story.  How Jesus knew me, and he pursued me.  And how, when He was dying at the cross, He thought of me.  And how He captured my imagination and my heart once again.

The most important part of this story is that it’s a real story.  Jesus is a real Super Hero.  He really rose from the dead.  And He paid for my sins.  And everyone’s.  Because He is blameless and worthy.  God dying for a mere human.  To know this, to understand this to the bones, is life changing. 

Still, the harsh reality of life can hit you the hardest when you are most blessed.  I was shocked at how a mere getting lost in traffic can bring hurtful words and blame.  But I remembered Jesus, and how much He endured, and how much He forgave.  This was enough for me to be graceful and forgiving.  To silently pray instead of retaliating.  And to find a middle ground where peace was the end result.  

Wrapping up.  The Jesus portrayed in this Play was one of my favorite renditions ever.  He was warm, easy going, and yet powerful.  I really believe God is using this show to reveal who He is to many.  

If you haven’t watched it yet, I highly recommend.  The curtains will close in January 2020, so you better hurry.  I understand most tickets are already sold out.