Wednesday, February 19, 2014

My sharing during chapel on the interaction between theology and spirituality.

When Leon asked me if I would be willing to do this, I was a little shy in the beginning, but being Asian, I cannot say no, and said ok… I told him that I am not sure that I am ahead of you in this journey of faith, but maybe it looks quite different.  Also, for those who might one day be missionaries,  it might be interesting to hear a different faith journey from someone of a completely different context.
My parents are middle class people in Singapore who wanted the best for their children. At that time, they felt that this meant that I should be sent to mission schools, despite both of them not being Christians.  When I was around 10, they started exploring the possibility of church, and we tagged along. During this journey, my parents brought us to very different kinds of churches, from the 7th Day Adventist church, to a Methodist church, and finally stayed with the Salvation Army for quite some years. Subsequently they left because of some theological differences they had with the congregation. They wanted to be more involved with the move of the Holy Spirit...  So, anyway, I started going to a non denominational church , and considered church there to be a safe haven while  I started working at a Christian NGO. I invested a lot of myself at work, and in many ways, my work and the community I build at work replace the “need” for church, in terms of fellowship and learning. Now that I have moved to Belgium, I have started going to a church that is called “the well”, we have no church building, meet in public places, and we try to build communities of faith in different neighbourhoods in Brussels.

So this is a long winded way to say that my faith journey is everything but conventional. While there are times when I wish for a systematic approach to learning my faith, I am thankful for the real lessons that I have had that happens real time. Throughout this faith journey, I am always thinking about what it means to love God, which is what I understand as reason for being a Christian. God loves me enough to send his Son to die for me, he continues to be here for me in my everyday life, and so, I try to live my life for him… I have come to realize that this is not as simple or straightforward as I thought it to be… Maybe some of you have this experience too.

The 2 verses that you see behind have in many ways encouraged me in this journey…

Mark 12:30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. 

1) I am called to love God with all that I am. This includes the different aspects of who I am and what I want to become. If spirituality is loving God with my heart, then I think that theology would be loving God with my mind. I think they come together through trying to love God. I remember the last time someone reminded me about this verse was Prof. Beck, who shared this  verse before our lectures on the history of Christian Doctrine. I found it particularly encouraging since the class felt daunting, as I was  learning something completely foreign. It gave me a reason to sit there and to learn it. After finishing this class, I can safely say that learning about Christian Doctrine is very much loving God with my mind,  and may I also add, loving God with my strength.  

Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

2) The 2nd verse has encouraged me with my faith whenever I find myself questioning something. Which happens quite a lot as a foreigner, or as a Christian in Europe. We are all products of where we come from, so what does it mean to conform or not?  When do we let go of something because it’s a cultural/personal difference? In this instance, I find that theology provides a whole host of answers that could help me appreciate the different aspects of the problem, and the thought out responses that they provide…but while battling these questions, I am encouraged that the God of the universe is as much in control in my little struggles as he is everything else that is going on.

So in summary, Spirituality and theology I think kind of go together. As I try to respond to God’s love, I do that as a child of his who remembers that He is always there, trying to connect with him, but also at the same time, doing it as someone who has been commanded to love with all that I am.