Six years you shall sow your land and gather in its yield, but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow so that the poor of your people may eat, and what they leave the wild animals may eat. -Exodus 23:10-11
Dear members and friends,
My religious life started at a Korean Presbyterian church in Korea in 1984. Overall, I loved the church and its people despite my essential discomfort regarding a few key beliefs. To be fair, this was the first place where I met people who seemed to genuinely care for others and were willing to go out of their way for others. In the beginning, I thought, “they might want something from me because people are not just kind and caring.” However, it turned out that most of them were kind and caring with no other reason than their belief that Jesus wanted them to be so. This caused me to reconsider how I should treat others. This positive influence later became a cornerstone in my mind enabling me to have a hopeful attitude toward humanity, even after I left that church due to doctrinal arguments.
These days, fewer people are interested in reading the Bible for some understandable reasons. One being that what is written in the Bible is far away from how we live in the 21st century. Most parts of the Bible were addressed to the people who lived around 1,200 B.C. or earlier. There is no way that we can make proper sense of how and why people did certain things 3,200 years ago, let alone try to live by their rules and standards. Instead, what we should pay attention to when reading the Bible is how the stories are intended to influence people. After we make our way through linguistic mazes of painstaking descriptions and details of the ancient days, we might arrive at the ultimate point of the Bible. The clear truth is that God wished for just one thing: for people to find a way to be kind and caring to each other. Otherwise, they might focus on their own well-being while being blind – consciously or not – to the pain and suffering of their neighbors.
My brothers and sisters in God, this week let us take a moment to reflect on our words and actions, and examine how we influence those who are around us. Let us pray that we are influencing our neighbors with kindness and caring hearts.
Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee