1 Samuel 3:1-10/ Psalm 139/ 1 Corinthians 6:12-20/ John 1:43-51
Story That Has to be Lived
I’ll Be Watching You
In 1983, a musical group called The Police released the song “Every Breath You Take.” A lot of people think it is a beautiful love song and dance to it on their wedding day. However, as the author of this song confirmed, it is not a love song.
Listen to the chorus: “Every breath you take and every move you make, every bond you break, every step you take, I’ll be watching you.” Does it sound creepy yet? I call this song “stalkers’ anthem.” However, do you know who else watches us day and night? Did you guess Father Christmas? I mean God, our Creator.
Young Samuel Called by God
We read the story of young Samuel being called by God. This boy who thought Eli the priest, his guardian, kept calling him in the night would grow up to be Israel’s last judge. Who were the judges of Israel? After the death of Joshua, who took over the leadership from Moses, the people of Israel cried out for a king. However, God was supposed to be the only leader for God’s people, so, a series of judges were chosen to lead Israel and fight their enemies.
Samuel became the last judge because people kept whining and demanding a king like every other country around them. God finally gave in. Samuel is the one who was sent by God to anoint the first king of Israel: Saul. The story of how Samuel was born is a story that will have to wait until we get to it during the story time. It is a fascinating story worthy of a TV or movie drama. Stay tuned.
Anyway, in today’s story, Samuel is a young boy and had not yet met or known God. That doesn’t mean God had not been watching him and taking care of him, not like a creepy stalker but as a loving and invisible parent. Upon realizing that God was calling the boy, Eli instructed him to say, “Speak, for your servant is listening,” the next time he hears the voice.
God Knows Us as a Loving Parent
As today’s psalmist proclaimed, God has searched us and known us. God our Creator is everywhere and we cannot escape from God’s spirit. We praise God, for we are wonderfully made and God guides our lives. God knows us as a loving parent would. I often hear stories of queer people coming out to their parents. I have heard of mothers saying, “I knew it since you were 3” and even a couple betting whether their child is gay or not. The mother said, “I told you so. Pay up!” God is our loving Parent.
Come and See
The only problem is that WE don’t know God, not really. However, from today’s gospel story, we learned that being taught about God is not good enough; we have to experience God firsthand. God and God’s reign of justice are not something we can know by learning.
Philip found Jesus, he told Nathaniel about it. Nathaniel was skeptical. He had prejudice against the people from Nazareth. “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” This is what Jesus had already said to two of John’s disciples who wanted to check him out. There are things in life that cannot be properly taught without experiencing it firsthand.
God’s reign that Jesus preached is the same. One has to live it to truly understand it. Jesus is a story that has to be lived to understand. God’s reign is a story that has to be lived to understand. We have to be a part of the community and live by its values to truly understand Jesus and God: worshipping together, having fellowship with its members, and living a life of serving others according to the teachings of Jesus.
Our Body is Holy Spirit’s Temple
Paul teaches us to glorify God with our bodies. Our body is a temple in which the Holy Spirit resides, and so, we should not defile it with immoral things. The sexual immorality that Paul mentions and a lot of Christians consider as the worst sin is only one of the many ways in which we can defile our body and soul. In fact, according to Jesus, arrogance and hypocrisy are far worse than sexual sins. The point is, God requires ethical consistency. Carelessly using our bodies might be a sin, but so is judging and hurting others with words and actions.
Be Immersed in the Kingdom Lifestyle
At the beginning of this new year, let us listen for God’s call. God calls us beloved, beautiful, and precious. Listen and believe it with your whole heart and soul. God calls us to live in God’s reign of love and justice. Let us become a community of love and justice. Let us love one another inside and outside this immediate faith community. We cannot know Jesus and God’s reign without being in God’s community and fully immersed in (what I call) the kingdom lifestyle.
Living as God’s children and the disciples of Jesus is a lifestyle. God’s kingdom is not a place, but a community and lifestyle. Let God into your hearts and life, and witness God’s miracle unfold through you. Let us dedicate our lives to this lifestyle of loving, serving others, and working for social justice. This is how we can know God. May God guide us.