By REV. LUNA DINGAYAN
“Then the Lord said, ‘I have seen the afflictions of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and Jebusites. And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring forth my people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt’. But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?’ He said, ‘But I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought forth the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God upon this mountain.’ ” — Exodus 3:7-12
Fourth of six parts
Click here to read the third
Click here to read the second
Click here to read the first part
COMING DOWN AND BE WITH THE PEOPLE
Furthermore, to fulfill our prophetic task is to come down and to be with our people in their sufferings and struggles.
The LORD said to Moses, “I have come down.” The God we believe in is not only a God who sees the affliction of our people and listens to their cry, but also a God who comes down and be with the people in their sufferings and struggles. It is one thing to see the affliction of people and to hear their cry, but it is also another thing to really come down and to be with them in their struggles.
The God of Exodus is not a neutral God, but rather a God who identifies with the suffering people. It is not because these people are obedient and righteous. As a matter of fact, they are a rebellious people, always murmuring against God and against the servant of God (cf. Ex.16). The only reason for such divine sympathy is that God is gracious, indeed, to those who suffer, and that God truly understands their suffering.
The God of Exodus is a God of incarnation. This is the kind of God who has incarnated in Christ Jesus our Lord, who “always had the nature of God, but did not think that by force he should try to become equal with God. Instead of this, of his own free will he gave up all he had, and took the nature of a servant. He became like a man and appeared in human likeness. He was humble and walked the path of obedience all the way to death – his death on the cross “(Phil. 2: 6-8).
In the Parable of the Final Judgment, the Son of Man would say to those before His throne, “What you have done to the least of my brothers (and sisters), you have done it unto me”(Mt. 25:40).
It is significant to note that God in Christ identifies with the “least” of God’s people, and that such identification would be the measure by which we would be measured. In the story of Apostle Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus, he heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, Why do you persecute me?” Then, Saul asked, “Who are you, Lord?”And then, the voice answered, “I am Jesus, whom you persecute” (cf. Acts 9). It is important to realize that God in Christ Jesus identifies not only with the …·gleast…”, but also with those who are “persecuted”.
And so, a church that affirms the God of Exodus, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ must also come down and be with the people in their sufferings and struggles. Like our God, we cannot do effectively our prophetic task in the ministry by staying on a pedestal, by being detached from people’s realities. As a matter of fact, we cannot truly hear people’s cry and know their sufferings if we do not come down.
To come down is to do away with our own messianic and triumphant attitudes towards people, our self-righteous and even condescending attitude towards people in their sufferings. Even our God must have to come down in Christ Jesus our Lord in order to become effective savior of the world. As prophets, we cannot do less than what God in Christ Jesus has done.
To come down would also mean to stop looking at the realities of this world from our own perspective, and like our God, start looking at the realities of this world from the perspective of our suffering and struggling people. There was a time in the history of the church when the church thought of itself as the only “mother and teacher” (mater et magistra) of the world. According to this view, the church has the monopoly of truth, and therefore the church should “teach”the world.
However, the church has painfully realized that it has also its own limitations, that the church in itself is not really perfect though it is trying very hard to be perfect, following Christ’s injunctions (cf.Mt.5:48). Hence, we have to come down and humbly acknowledge that we have such limitations, and that we need to learn from our people like what our God has done in listening to people’s cry.
Our God is far greater and bigger than the church. Our God is the God of the whole universe, the Maker of heaven and earth (cf. Gen. 1-2). The reality of our God permeates the whole of God’s creation (cf. Isa.40). The Spirit of God moves upon the face of the earth (cf. Gen. 1:2).
To come down, therefore, is to humbly acknowledge that we are not the only instruments of God’s mission in the world. In the writings of Prophet Isaiah, the LORD said to Cyrus the Great, the King of Persia, “I appoint you to help my servant Israel, the people that I have chosen. I have given you great honor even though you do not know me. I am the Lord, there is no other god. I willl give you the strength you need, although you do not know me. I do this so that everyone from one end of the world to the other may know that I am the LORD and that there is no other god” (Isa. 45:4-6).
God works in wondrous ways, sometimes in ways we could not fully understand. God’s ways are not like our ways; God’s thoughts are not like our thoughts (cf. Isa.55:8). God, indeed, is absolutely free to do His own mission in the world. God could choose even a pagan ruler like Cyrus the Great of Persia in order that God’s suffering people would experience genuine freedom.
This is something that many of us would find it quite difficult to accept. But this is precisely the reason why we have not been able to develop a truly Filipino church, a church that would take seriously our Filipino culture and way of life. For we have thought that the Biblical God could not be found in the culture of the Filipino.
To come down is to do our prophetic task in the ministry with a sense of humility and servant-hood. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served; he came to serve and to give his life to redeem many people “(Mk. 10:35). # nordis.net
Click here for the fifth part