In this time, where our ‘difference’ is accentuated because of the disproportionate effect the coronavirus has had on Asians, it seems clear that we are not where we belong.
My time in Cambridge so far has been marked by periods where I am keenly aware of my difference. At first, I thought it was a matter of cultural difference, that maybe if I smoothly replied “Good! And you?” after being asked how I am, I might assimilate well. That maybe if I agreed that the weather is horrible (though I actually quite enjoy the sharp, refreshing misty drizzle), I might just begin to belong to the Cambridge community.
Slowly, I realised that I have actually felt this way before, and that there is an even bigger reason behind this feeling of being different. I belong to an even more different, even more counter-cultural subset of humanity. I am a Christian! In Matthew, as part as the sermon on the Mount, Jesus exhorts Christians to be the salt of the earth, the light of the world, the city set on a hill.
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. 14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Christians are called to stand out, we are called to be different. In a sense, I feel like this feeling of displacement, this liminal sense of neither being here nor there, is a reflection of how this world, in the end, is not our home. We do not belong to the world, we belong to its Creator, and I look forward to the day when I get to behold His face! When every longing will be satisfied, when joy unspeakable will flood my soul, when I am truly home.
But till then, we are to ‘let our light shine before others’, so that they too may glorify our Father in heaven! In a time when it is much easier to be salty than to be salt, how shall we live differently for Christ? In this upcoming week of strikes, whether you feel frustrated that teaching may not be happening, or relieved, join me in thinking about how to glorify God through our actions!