Are we victims of our environment? Sometimes I wonder. Do we have no choice but to be shaped and determined by the environment we’re in? Do we have the freedom to be different, in spite of our environment? Or are we just a product of our own environment? We know that our environments play a very big role in our lives. The kind of family you’re born into, in a way, you’re very much shaped by the family you’re born into or your parents, the parents that you have. They taught you, they have instilled certain values within you so depending on the kind of parents that you have, your life is shaped and formed in some ways. Also, the friends that we associate with, certain friends, they have influenced you to be the person that you are now. And also our financial situations, if you’re ill or sick. That also influences you tremendously. And our geopolitical situations around us. All these things have had profound and long-lasting effects, and have shaped who I am. They colour the way we think, they put a lens on the way we see the world, and they shape the kind of value we live with. So I see a lot of people that are just a product of their environment. So I wonder whether we have a certain freedom to be on our own. Is there a possibility that we think independently? Are we becoming victims of our own environment? For example, if your parents had such a bad lifestyle and that affected you so much that you have kind of built a certain kind of lifestyle or attitude in life? Those kinds of experiences we have made the people we are.
If you were deceived in a big way, you will have a hard time trusting people because he had a bad experience. In your life, if you have experienced tremendous failure, you will probably hesitate very much to take risks and take on challenges in life because you’re too scared of the failures that you had. And people who had really, really bad relationships in their lives will be scared of having intimate and meaningful relationships with other people because they are affected by the relationship that they had. People who have financial problems, they will be focused on survival. I see that more in KSM, Korean speaking congregation. Their financial situations are not necessarily very good, so they constantly think about their survival in society. One person that I know has a store, but it’s not going very well. Every day only a few customers come and, they’re constantly worrying about what’s going to happen. Their rent goes out every month and “How am I going to survive? Can I survive? Immigrants have a particular mindset because of their harsh immigrant life. I’m sure many of you experienced your parents. They had a harsh life, it’s almost a dehumanized life. When you look at the Korean immigrant history here in Toronto, when they first came, there was a law in Korea. You could only take out $200. What can you do with $200? When I arrived here, uh, I only had $400. I bought a desk and a bed, I had nothing left. A lot of people were like that so they couldn’t even start a store. What they did was a menial labour job in a factory. They saved money as much as possible, they didn’t spend any money and then finally they opened a store. When they opened the store, they were a little better financially, but look at their lifestyle. from 7,8 in the morning until 11 at night. No break. No vacation. How can anybody survive from seven in the morning until 11:00 every day for 365 days? That’s how they survived. The immigrant lifestyle is harsh, so their mentality is set in a certain way because of their immigrant situation.
Are we simply the product of our environment? Are we predetermined in that way? Do we have free will? Free thinking? Free choice? Or is it just an illusion, or just wishful thinking? Maybe. In fact, that’s what we see in many people around us. I often see only the product of environment, not independent thinkers, not people who have overcome their environments, but they are just a part of their environment. It may be wishful thinking. I hope that it’s not wishful thinking. I mean, that’s what I see, but I want to. I don’t want to take what I see as a, as a truth. I want to see the scripture has a truth. I do believe the scriptures that I want to hold onto the scripture rather than a what I see. I don’t think St Paul would have agreed that we are simply the victims of our environment. He was the person who overcame his own harsh environment to be the disciple of Jesus Christ, but he himself was once the victim of the environment. He was completely blinded and completely controlled, a shaped by the environment that he was in the environment to set certain values and standards. And this is what is good, and in St Paul believed that that was what is good and that will chip it, the value that I have to pursue. So all his life, he pursued that dream goal and vision and that is set by the environment rather than it came from within himself. He was set by the environment. People said that that was a good thing to do. So he was at the top of it. He really did excel. He did really well, but when he got to the top, what he realized was that was not the law. Finally, I have arrived here. You sort of seeing that she saw that I was simply the victim of my own environment. That’s what he saw. I was simply the product of the environment. And then he realized that that’s garbage. That’s rubbish. Refuse. He decided not to be the victim of the environment. He studied the new choice. He studied new life. This time, not by what people say, said this time by what he chose, by what he believed.
Restored through Prayer
So I can see that St Paul was a victim of his environment. In today’s passage, this is sad, let us look at this passage. We are treated as impostors and yet are true as unknown and yet are well known as dying and see you alive as punished and yet not killed as sorrowful yet always rejoicing as poor, yet making many rich as having nothing and yet possessing everything. I divided this scripture into two and this what I came with, a posters, true unknown, well known, tying live punished, not killed, sorrowful, rejoicing, poor, making many rich, having nothing, possessing everything left side and right side, totally opposite, left, left side was the environment, right side was this life. Just looking at that realize that he was not the product and victim of his own environment. I do believe that Christian teaching is that we can overcome our own environment and become the best person we can be. What kind of person do you want to be? The person that everybody admires or the person that is faithful and truthful to yourself. This is what Jesus said in the world. You may have tribulation, but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.
That was what Jesus believed and Jesus actually lived out his life day by day, overcoming his circumstances. About a month or two ago, a lady in our congregation came up to me and said to me, inky, all my friends, if I follow their path, I can easily make a half million a year, but she said, I have not. I have decided not to follow that. I’ve decided to live my own life because by doing that I lose my life. I sack her. I have to sacrifice everything. So she decided to take her own choice. I think that’s courage. It was refreshing to hear that. That is Tessa, gays being the victim of the environment, just following everybody else. That is like a salmon going against the stream. I think that’s cool. She’s sitting right here today. How did? How did that in the world? You may have tribulation, but be of good cheer. I’ve overcome the world. How did he do that? Prayer. Prayer was this powerful weapon. He never let himself down by just taking all the garbage from the world. He got a lot of garbage from the world. He saw the world, he’s observed the kinds of things they do, the kind of things they say, observed, like an existential philosopher. They all saw that is observed. The word that we’re living is observed, and the Jesus saw the, uh, the world was observed too. So he took a lot of garbage every day from the world. He knew that. No, that’s not right. No, that’s not it. No, that’s not true. That’s not the way you live. He knew that but took off kind of garbage is. He received all kinds of garbage, just garbage from the world. People criticized him. People challenged him. Pupils spread all kinds of false rumours about him. They tried to trap him and even try to kill them and she just never let that garbage sink into the soul and be poisoned by this garbage.
He went to God in prayer. His damage spirit was restored in his prayer. His own self-was healed and refreshed by the renewing power of the spirit, his quiet time and in his prayer or his weapons to find balance in life again. Every now and said, every time she just went to prayer. What did he hear? He said he must. He might have or must have heard this. You are my beloved son with whom I’m well pleased. I think that’s what Jesus heard every time when he went to pray, not shaped by the way people treated him, people might have treated him as an imposter spot. He was true.
Our environment can be harsh. He may receive much garbage in life, endless. This pressure of life, the guilt we cannot shake off or isn’t an and anxieties that paralyze us and just feeling of powerlessness and the overall feeling of being overwhelmed. These things can take away the strength to go on. Don’t let these things influence you. Otherwise, you will become victims of your own environment. Fight it, protest against it, require time and prayer, fine yourselves. The joy of life will be restored. The new strength will arise from within and you hope will brighten our perspective and you’ll be able to overcome the world. I just past my birthday and realize that time is short. I gotta live my life. I cannot entertain other people anymore. I got to live my life. I had known him many years left on the 50 years maybe we got our live our life. Don’t just follow what people do. Don’t just follow the pattern of this world. Let us be transformed by the renewing of our minds and let us really live our lives that makes us happy, joyful, and meaningful.
Let us say together.