We are now some hundred kilometers away from Manila with the PAC youth. Our aim is to plan and discuss the direction of the youth ministries especially now with a completely different line up and leader. So we decided to do it in Baguio not just to plan but to also get to know each other for a few days. Even before arriving here, God has been so gracious that He has made everything possible.
Why Baguio? I like it there. It’s cold.
The stay here so far has given us a lot of time to reflect and recover. I, for one, was able to think about what it means to be a leader of the church not just of the youth ministry. I was able to meditate about what it means to be a real Christian not just one who juggles the laws with his mouth and goes to church like a Pharisee. Here are some of those thoughts.
Furthermore, I do believe that whenever we criticize, we should provide alternatives and suggestions. So what are we to be then? If not be a wall, a thorn or an ice, what should we be? I suggest that we have to be gateways, vines and the hearth.
Gateways are like doors that allow people to get in and out of the house or the yard. It gives easy access to everyone. What’s fun about gateways is that it leads to the door way of the house and leads directly to the welcoming people inside.
As Christians, we should be gateways. We should show people that we are open to visitors and listeners. Moreover, we should be gateways to Christ and His love. Our openness should allow us to show the way in to Christ love not by talking about Christ (because gates do not talk) but by showing and doing. We should be the ones who can easily be open to listen to people’s woes and care for them when they are in need. Openness is a Christian leader’s mark the same way that a gate is.
A vine is a creeping plant that could surround a house and has the capability to bring down walls. Vines in a forest are signs that there is life in the forest. A vine slowly creeps around a wall, a house or another tree. It surrounds the structure so as to get the best possible access to sunlight and rain.
Christ said that He is the vine and we are the branches. It stands to reason that if you are a branch, you should be no different from a vine. As Christ’s vine therefore, we must learn to embrace other people regardless of culture or race or gender. We are to wrap them in Christ’s love with the way we treat them, not with hostility but with friendliness and forgiveness. We should not go pointing out their faults and wrongs but cling to them with our hospitality and willingness to join and interact. Eventually, in the same way that a creeping vine can crumble down houses and walls, and choke down huge trees, our friendliness and hospitality would bring down barriers for Christ to work in them.
A hearth is the term used when people huddle in front of the fire to get warm. Eventual evolution of the word means a family circle or a strong bond between comrades and friends. What better quality to possess a youth group. Being part of the hearth means that you are not cold and indifferent to each other but warm and affectionate. It doesn’t mean that you are too hot to burn others who would come near you but just enough to feel welcome. The same way that you try to wait until your hot chocolate is warm enough to drink so as not to scald your tongue. It also does not mean that you are luke-warm which is neither hear nor cold. Because then you are still indifferent and would regard others without emotion. As Revelations would say
““‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.”
Revelation 3:15-17 ESV
Therefore avoid being cold, lukewarm or hot but be the hearth because it is just right.
The youth nay, any one who calls himself or herself a Christian should be the open door that leads to Christ, the vine that is closely connected to the main vine and the hearth that welcomes even the most wayward and sinful soul to rest in its warmth. It is so easy to say those things, yet so hard to do. Let us therefore ask the Lord, our Master, to help us be the gate, the vine and the hearth.