Additional "From Further Afield" Articles


Published: 5/6/2015 1:09:13 PM


This last week, my dad came for a visit. It was his second visit to Hungary, but this one was different for a few reasons. Firstly, two years ago, he came in the summer for my wedding, and he was focused on all the wedding festivities. He also came directly from the States to Hungary and back again. During that visit, my dad really enjoyed his time in Hungary but also felt the atmosphere of the country was a bit subdued (perhaps due to its history under Communism). I agree that, at first glance, Hungarian people can seem quite reserved, but once you get to know someone, you see that Hungarians are actually very friendly and hospitable.

It was on this second trip that my dad saw this side of the country more and more. This time, he came during the school year, so he had a chance to come into my classes and get to know some of my students. He also came directly from Israel (as he was there with a pastors’ group) instead of from the States, which gave him more various points of comparison. He told me that he saw people who were very sorrowful and whose lives were very hard in Israel due to war and unrest, and then he came to Hungary only to see my students smiling in school, young families playing outside, and people on the streets walking cheerfully hand-in-hand. I suppose it’s all a matter of perspective.

While it’s certainly valuable to step back sometimes and get a little perspective, I think that all too often, we judge ourselves and our spiritual life by our own perspective. We might fall victim to the lie that faith is based on feelings, which works only until you "stop feeling” close to God. You might try to better yourself or help others or talk to people outside your comfort zone to gain a bit of perspective, to get the feeling back. But it doesn’t work. Or perhaps you’ve bought into "fast food faith " – quickly go here and do this and be involved in such-and-such. Read the newest book on how to see things clearly or hear the latest preacher who’s going to shake up the Christian world as we know it.

Finally, these fads and feelings will disappoint. We can’t gain a wide enough perspective to see ourselves aright. Only God can see all and knows all. Even though He sees us as we are - sinners in desperate need of forgiveness and new life – He loves us just the same and offers us exactly what we need through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus. His perspective is the greatest, and he tells those of us who believe in Him as our Savior that we are "a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that [we] may declare the praises of Him who called [us] out of darkness into His wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). Our feelings will always change, but our faith in God is not dependent on those things. God’s grace is sufficient for us and is greater than the things of this world – the darkness that Peter talks about here.

As the people of God, we are not called to live lives of convenience and comfort. We are called to declare God’s praises and tell others about His Gospel and grace. Although we can never gain as complete of a perspective as God has, we can see that we have been selfish or busy or lazy. We are in need of forgiveness and grace, which God freely gives to us. Then we can live with an eternal perspective as our reality, and with the very Spirit of God working in us, share the Gospel with others.

Eros vár a mi Istenünk,

Sarah Berta-Somogyi