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Who ever thought that an inspiration for a blogposts could have been triggered off by something as simple as a chicken dinner? Wild! Let's start at the beginning. I have a younger brother here in Victoria who has been helping me out tremendously. He will do anything he can to give me help when and if I need it. He brings me food, drink, gives me rides etc. Tonite upon request he brought me a BBQ chicken dinner fresh from the grocery store.
Normally when I get one of these, I just dig into it with my bare hands and fingers. Tonite it was a little hot so I decided to for the very first time take a fork and knife and proceed to cut it into pieces and place it in my mouth in an orderly fashion. It felt different but in a nice way to try a new method of devouring it. But you can be that as soon as that chicken cooled off, I reverted back to my old habits and attacked the thing tooth and nail like i was a hyena!
Table manners vary from culture to culture. You have the more anglo saxon cultures where there is a proper way to do things. Don't talk with your mouth full! You have the Japanese which have a delicate and ceremonious way of eating. I was very lucky to be born into the Chinese culture where I don't think that table manners is even a word in the dictionary. After all, why would there be a word in the dictionary for something that is next to non existent in our culture.
We Chinese are great multi-taskers, we can talk and eat at the same time! And we are encouraged to go thru our plates of food with much speed. And don't forget to use your hands and fingers to strip every last piece of meat from the bone of the chicken! As well, you may want to polish off the last of poor dead creature's eyes, brains, tongue, liver....you name it. Also be sure to be shoving rice into your mouth at the very same time you are doing all of the above.
It is during this dinner time that a thought came to me and I realized that the way that religion treats society is alot like when people are trying to dine on something with way too much ceremony. Understand that I'm not criticizing cultures with ceremony, I appreciate each culture for what it is. I'm trying to illustrate something here.
Just the same way that the point of true Christianity has always been and always will be people. But when people turn Christianity into a religion, they start adding pomp and ceremony. "Oh, you don't want to get your hands dirty with THOSE people". And it becomes all about form and formula. In the same way that when people add to much pomp and ceremony to dining, it loses it's point. At the end of the day, the point of dinner is the food.
Jesus said "I am the bread of life" He never said "I am the bread of life but you have to eat me a certain ceremonious way". Can I tell you a secret? If you look at the life of Jesus, he was downright messy! He never was afraid to get his hands dirty. One of his miracles involved making mud out of spit and then smearing it over a blind man's eyes and then telling him to go wash and he will receive his site. I betcha that I won't find a church in Europe that has that story painted inside it's structure.
Religion loves form, tablemanners, and ceremony. But true Christianity isn't afraid to get messy in order to reach into people's lives and make a difference. This whole trip is gonna be messy! Even preparing for this trip, I've had to get my hands dirty. Probably 40 different times I thought that I was ready to go and I announced it and it turns out that I wasn't ready to go. Relationships are messy too, my best friend in Argentina Marisa is starting to feel the strain of being apart and she desperately wants to see me back in the country. Many times I told her, I'll be back soon and then I have to text her back to tell her that she'll have to wait a little longer.
And I can tell you right now that it will get messy getting back into the country and getting my hands dirty with local people as I join in the effort to make a difference. Religion loves to paint the picture of serving God as offering a prayer or lighting a candle once a week and then going on with life. But true faith is a gutwrenching encounter with people where you are guaranteed to get sweaty palms! Religion does not recognize this as service to God because it doesn't look nice, clean, and compartmentalized. That's not what God likes!
That's exactly what God likes! Many times I've been criticized by religious folk because I don't conform to "Christian culture" where I sit around with a bunch of Jesus people strumming a guitar and talking about the sun and the moon and the stars like it's the 1960's. Instead, everything I do has to be with loving people and getting my hands dirty and my palms sweaty trying to make a difference. And I'm amazed that people who lock themselves away in a church and actually are doing the exact opposite that Christ did when he was on earth, they will criticize me as not being "Christian enough" when they themselves have barely lifted a finger to make any kind of effort to help society.
My two favorite pastimes are getting messy with people and with food! Just like Jesus! And in this next season, you're going to see me do alot of both :) I have no doubt in my mind that if Jesus Christ got treated to a bucket of KFC , he wouldn't think twice about getting his fingers messy as the Christ literally brings a whole new meaning to the term "finger lickin' good"