The view from our balcony
This morning after the first hour of my language lesson, we took a 5 minute break and went outside on the balcony. Its interesting what you see when you just stand and observe the daily activities of life in the city. As the Ratanak office/apartment is located near one of the major Wats (Temple/Pagoda), one can often see the monks with their saffron robes and yellow umbrellas walking the streets.
Monks heading to homes to receive food
Today was no different but what I found rather fascinating was the fact that every few minutes, monks would show up at the entrance of our landlord's home which is on the ground floor of the apartment building In a space of 5 minutes, six monks came by. Each of them were given a packet of food and they took turns chanting prayers giving a blessing to the person who gave them the food.
Monks waiting for their alms
According to my language instructor, the monks will come out from the Wat between 8am to 10am and go the houses around their neighborhood waiting patiently outside the homes on the street until someone from the home offers them food. The reason for this is that the only time they are allowed to eat is in the morning. Once noon time rolls around, they are not allowed to eat for the rest of the day and if they do they would be in trouble since they broke the rules. From what I understand, such rule breaking could lead to expulsion from the Wat.
Here in Cambodia, 95% of the population is Buddhist and monks are revered because they represent Buddha in human form. What I didn't know until today was that monks come so frequently every single day. So in a two hour span, the owner of a home would have to give offerings to every single monk that stops by their home---that's a lot of offerings every single day.
Receiving a blessing
All of this had me thinking what kind of offering we give to Christ each day? Romans 12:1-2 says to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. So while followers of Buddha give offerings or alms of food or money each day to the monks, Christ calls us to give our lives to Him. He wants all of us not just the things that we can give him. He wants us. Eugene Peterson in The Message says it more succinctly: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
What a difference in offering between those of us who are followers of Christ and those who follow Buddhism. As we offer our lives completely and unreservedly to Christ, He brings out the best in us and enables us to fulfill our God given destinies as we seek first His kingdom.