Happy New Year of the Lamb – 2015
Happy and Blessed New Year to you all! I know it’s already February, but Lunar New Year will be on February 19, 2015! According to the East Asian Zodiac, 2015 is the year of the Lamb. A lamb or sheep generally symbolizes love, peace, humility, and kindness. However, in early January, despite our expectations that this year would start with peace and love, we heard the sad and horrible news of the terrorist attacks in Paris.
I came across a recent article written by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who is an author and six-time NBA champion and league Most Valuable Player, from TIME Magazine (January 26, 2015). The article’s title is “Paris Was Not About Religion: Thugs, Not Muslims, Commit Violence in the Name of Allah.” He wrote, “For me, religion — no matter which one — is ultimately about people wanting to be humble, moral lives that create a harmonious community and promote tolerance and friendship… Violence committed in the name of religion is never about religion…”
I agree with Abdul-Jabbar’s point that if you, or your group, harm other people with violence and coercion in the name of a religion, you will only become ruthless thugs — your irresponsible actions have nothing to do with your faith. If you are attacking and harming people in order to defend your faith, whatever it is, your faith is no longer faith, but self-deception and depravity. Thugs and terrorists are cowards because they are too scared to open their hearts to the sanctity of life.
Last month, we were saddened to hear the United Methodist Bishop Ruben Job (1928-2015) passed away. He was the author of the book Three Simple Rules: A Wesleyan Way of Living, which is well-known, especially among United Methodists. In this book, he emphasized “Three Simple Rules” of John Wesley: (1) Do No Harm; (2) Do Good; (3) Stay in Love with God. Yes, we Christians — not only Methodists, but all Christians — are called to be “peacemakers” while pursuing the“Kingdom of God and His Righteousness” as our priority.
When we truly follow Jesus, we learn God’s inclusive love beyond our limited and temporary human love. I believe that the essence of Jesus’s teaching can be summarized with three words: Peace, Justice, and Love. If any Christian neglects these in the name of God or faith, that person admits herself or himself as a mere thug, not a person of faith. This could happen to any Christian. If you or I harm any soul in the name of God or faith, we are “missing the target” and ignoring what Jesus taught us; we will easily become the same miserable thugs. It is interesting that the word “sin” originally means “missing the target.”
In John 10:10, Jesus not only warns us, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy,” but also tells us how our lives can be made fruitful and hopeful by his presence: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” Yes, our Good Shepherd is Jesus Christ, and He is also the “Lamb of God” (The “Agnus Dei”) Himself. John the Baptizer proclaims to the whole world, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
My brothers and sisters in Christ!
In this new year of 2015, let us follow our Good Shepherd Jesus Christ as his good and faithful sheep. Let us not be deceived by the voice of any “thief,” but follow the main traits of the lamb — love and peace — in everything. I keep each and every one of you in my prayers and hearts so that you may continue to be blessed by the abundant life that Jesus offers. Thanks be to God!
Love and Blessings,
Pastor J. T. Kim