Category: The Reversal


The Answer to Our Question

“While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew, his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him.” -Matthew 4:18-20

I remember talking to my dad about my future a while back. “I’m still not sure what I want to do with my life.” I said. I was very frustrated (as most college kids are) about the fact that the choices I make now seem to pigeonhole me into one vocation or another, seemingly permanently. I didn’t feel prepared to answer the question: “What are you going to do with your life?” I was surprised by my dad’s response to my request for guidance: My dad, a successful doctor (with a Master’s Degree in Architecture on the side), who has all of the signs of cultural success, said,

“Adam, I’m 50 and I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.”

I share this moment with you all because I think that the question as to our purpose here on earth is one that is burned deep into the soul of all human beings. Most often, we seek to find our ultimate significance through what we do. Isn’t it true that one of the first questions asked of us when in college is “What’s your major?” and, once in the workplace, “What do you do for a living?” I think (and I think that you’d agree with me) that our culture places immense value upon our occupation because it has nowhere higher to look when trying to answer the question:

“Why am I here?”

Enter the Reversal. Look at Matthew 4, where Jesus begins his ministry on earth and calls his first disciples to follow him. “Follow me” he says. You see, without some source of significance, without a caller to give us a calling, we create it on our own. For Peter and Andrew, their purpose on earth was probably something along the lines of “To be an honest, hard-working fisherman, God-fearing Jew, and steady provider for my family.”

Sounds great, right? Not when compared with what Jesus had in mind. You see, he calls us to so much more than a vocation or even to his mission. Jesus’ answer to our Question isn’t even on our level. He doesn’t answer primarily with a task but with himself. He gives more than a calling. He gives the opportunity to walk with the caller. True significance in this life can’t be found in a job, but in a person.

And our task flows from Him; to be his humble disciples, spreading his word to the ends of the earth (Matthew 28:12-20), in whatever vocation we find ourselves. He doesn’t just say: “Follow me” He gives a completely new level of significance to the familiar task of fishing.  You know what I love about these verses? He didn’t say : “Come with me, I’m going to make you a Rabbi” as would have been the custom for a Rabbi to do when gathering disciples. Translated into today’s terms, he didn’t call them necessarily to be “Pastors.” He called the fishermen to be… fishermen. Brilliant, right? Jesus called them to do what they were already doing, but to do it with Him and For Him and in a way that Honors Him Alone.  Not all are called to be preachers, but all are called. If I was a betting man, I’d bet on the fact that the Lord has bigger plans for your vocation than you currently imagine, be it student, businessman, engineer, janitor, whatever.

And there’s the reversal: Jesus calls us to be… us, but to do it for Him. And that is the trick to deep significance in this life. Follow the Call closer and closer to the Caller. Jesus answers our question with nothing but himself.

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My God

My God…
Rap by Pastor Jason Chu, Beijing International Christian Fellowship

My God is not an old white man to be feared
With a list of rules that’s as long as his beard

He’s not a creation scientist
Who thinks if you can explain the rain that it makes it less great

My God is not a conservative Sex Ed teacher

Not a tract
not a VHS tape
not a bumper sticker
With a bogus slogan chosen for controversy
Or a candidate who managed to attract the right… wing.

He’s on the wrong side of the tracks – Palestines and Iraqs
He’s behind every person whose culture has turned their backs
He’s beside every divide to provide for both sides

He’s on top of the world…

…and still holds it together.

He’s the most clever

Sometimes he’s seen in Esther
Mary, Theresa, Lydia, Deborah
Rashawna, Jingyi, Eunju, Emma
Julie, Jessii, Tori, Becca

My God is not a limited release
You don’t have to line up – preorder – show up – and show receipts

He’s not a neatly produced show on stage
Or a test prep book with the answers in the back page

My God is not the Texas board of education

He’s not Jesus Camp but he’s also not The Simpsons

My God cries and my God laughs
He knows how it feels to drink cold beer in the bath
My God has a sense of humor
So he created me – an Asian pastor that raps

My God is strong enough to not need to prove himself
He’s big enough that he can fill any room in the house
He likes the little people
The hurting
The lost
The ones who lost their virginity to someone who stopped calling

He’s a father whose children didn’t listen
But he never lost his patience and lets us come home
And our room in the basement is always waiting and vacant
With fresh sheets on the bed and fresh food for the taking

My God loves weddings
He dances on the floor until long after the last guest has bounced
He doesn’t wear a crown / ring / bling / or white gown
But every head turns when he’s up in the house

He responds – to text messages, tweets, and gchat
He’s not afraid when I offer my honest feedback

‘cause he knows the shape of my eyes thighs and veins
And he loves them – even when I think I need to lose weight

He knows what it feels like to be beaten by a lover
Abandoned by a mother
Without a roof for cover
He knows what it’s like to have to stay undercover
Afraid of what others would do if they discovered

He listens to alcoholic confessions
Gives late night blessings in midnight sessions
Sometimes, keeps me guessing – but only if there’s a point to learn
He even cares when my other friends are unconcerned

He loves widows, orphans, gay people, straight

He’s crying tears of anger for every single rape

Every child hurt – every heart that breaks

Everything that aches with an unforgiven pain

And he’s there in Rwanda and he’s there in Kuwait

And he’s there shedding tears at every mass grave

And he tears off masks to expose every face

And in front of his eyes there’s no room to play games

‘Cause he’s every mother’s kiss and he’s every father’s gaze

And he’s the God of every person who’s been stood up for a date

And he doesn’t care what you call it

It’s not about the words

He just wants you

You

You

You.


My God…

Expression – The Reversal

In an essay in her book, Sister Outsider, poet and activist Audre Lorde pondered the question of expression and entitlement shortly after she learned she had breast cancer:

I have come to believe. . . . that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood. . . .

In becoming forcibly and essentially aware of my mortality, and of what I wished and wanted for my life, however short it might be, priorities and omissions became strongly etched in a merciless light, and what I most regretted were my silences. . . . I was going to die, if not sooner then later, whether or not I had ever spoken myself.  My silences had not protected me.  Your silence will not protect you. . . .

We can learn to work and speak when we are afraid in the same way we have learned to work and speak when we are tired.  For we have been socialized to respect fear more than our own needs for language and definition, and while we wait in silence for that final luxury of fearlessness, the weight of that silence will choke us.

Taken from the book Difficult Conversations by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Sheila Heen.

Inside Out – The Reversal

“The Lord works from the inside out.  The world
works from the outside in.  The world
would take people out of the slums.  Christ
takes the slums out of people, and then they
take themselves out of the slums.  The world
would mold men by changing their
environment.  Christ changes men, who then
change their environment.  The world would
shape human behavior, but Christ can change
human nature.”

~ Ezra Taft Benson

What’s in a name?

When we decided to start a blogging project, one of the first questions that we faced was what we would call the blog.  It had to be deep, thought provoking, scalable, and original – quite a bit to ask for from a name!  After brainstorming up a bunch of ideas, a verse from Matthew was suggested: “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”  One of us had heard a sermon that taught the idea that this verse described God’s reversal – that those who the world deems to be first will be last in the kingdom, their place reversed.

The Reversal is a call to humble living.  It is a daring commitment.  To think of others first and yourself second.  To lead from the back of the parade and out of the spotlight.  It goes against the grain and common sense.  It’s not natural; if it was, a reversal wouldn’t be necessary.  We think it’s time to join this Reversal and we want others to join with us.

In our first meeting we shared what we thought we would gain from writing this blog.  The list was huge.  Amazingly, we discovered another reversal – a blog to help others in turn helps us.  A great quote goes like this: “The best way to get what you want out of life is to help other people get what they want.”  We believe the world is ready for these ideas; that we are a product of people who came before us and shared their understanding.  We’re going to thank them by spreading that understanding.

So what should you expect from The Reversal? For now we’ll post three times per week, once per author. Each post will be a brief, down-to-earth discussion of a theme in Christianity and/or leadership. Eventually we would like to add more authors and to continually grow our reader base. We hope that by sharing what we are learning, we can spread the idea of God’s Reversal in our lives and the lives of others.

So what’s in a name?  A lot after all.