On Christmas Eve, the minister of the church that I attend asked all of us to think about why we believe in Jesus. She told a story about a conversation with a property agent who simply asked her “why do you believe in Jesus?” She then continued to tell us about how Jesus has changed her life.
In all honesty, I initially could not think of a reason as to WHY I believe in God or Jesus or WHY I am a Christian because in reality, my life would be a lot easier in some ways if I did not believe in Jesus. I sat there thinking “of course I believe in Jesus, but really why???”
Finally, it occurred to me that I believe in Jesus because I could not imagine my life without God. God gives my life purpose and direction. God answers my prayers, comforts me in times of trouble and guides my life. I know all of these things because I see God in the people in my life everyday.
The minister then talked about heaven, not about heaven in the afterlife but how we need to create heaven here on earth. What does heaven on earth look like?? On a large-scale, heaven on earth looks like justice for all peoples and an end to poverty and war. It means an end to hate and discrimination and rampant consumption of resources and wealth. It means that we stop ignoring everybody around us.
This large-scale heaven is key, but the small-scale is also important. So what’s my “small-scale heaven?” On a small-scale and in my personal life, heaven on earth looks like relationships. My personal heaven is watching TV with my friends, laughing, chatting and drinking wine. It’s going for a run on a clear, sunny day. It’s dancing, eating, and chatting with my Filipino sisters on Sundays. It’s Skyping with my family and looking forward to the day when I can sit in the living room with my sister and my mother in person.
I celebrated my second Christmas in Hong Kong yesterday. To me, Christmas means remembering the birth of Jesus through song and worship and spending time with friends and family. So, in the spirit of remembering a better meaning for Christmas, I invite you to consider “why.” Why do you believe in Jesus? Or why don’t you believe in Jesus? What is your heaven on earth?
In hopes of helping that reflection, an incredibly popular but super important bible verse: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life. God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world may be saved through him.” John 3:16-17 (Common English Bible)