God's Love, Love

To the Eager, the Scared, and the Apathetic (Part 1 of 3)


At the mention of love, I have come to observe the response of three. This is a note for each one.

TO THE APATHETIC

The neglect of something does not nullify its existence.

You probably have come to dread the beginning of February and are mostly thankful that it is the shortest month of the year and you can’t wait for the appearance of hearts and flowers and cheesy posts to significantly decrease by the first week of March.

There are a myriad of reasons to say that the world’s celebration of love for an entire month year after year is pointless, that it is a waste of time, that it is but a huge marketing ploy: There is so much hate around. Countries are at war. Friendships fail. Relationships don’t work out.

But if we come to think of it, the inverse of what makes us lose our faith in love spells the difference. There is so much hate around, countries are at war, friendships fail, relationships don’t work out because people fail to love.

To genuinely, sacrificially, selflessly love – that is our weakness. And then, Love came. Jesus came to demonstrate in flesh how His power is strongest where we are weakest.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8, NIV

Someone treasured you at your messiest, fixed His gaze on you with utmost affection at your darkest, died for you despite of, in spite of.

The neglect of something does not nullify its existence.

Your neglect of Christ’s love does not nullify His love for you.

Believe that you are genuinely, sacrificially, and selflessly loved and you will begin to believe in love again.

 

 

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Purely Personal Pieces

When Your #SquadGoals Aren’t Met


You’ve finally found your squad in church and they get you perfectly! They’re like brothers and sisters from another mother and you’re sure nothing can ever come between you. Your wavelengths are like clones of each other. Sure, they’d have quirks that irritate you a bit, but you can live with that. Until that fateful day –

  • Someone promised to go with you and then cancelled.
  • You see a photo of them together on social media and no one invited you.
  • You’re trying to prove a point, but they seem to be ganging up to prove you wrong.
  • You’re going through a tough time and no one seemed to care.
  • Someone had to correct you and you think they didn’t do it right.

Looks like it’s #SquadGoals no more.

Your quest to finding the perfect squad in church must end the soonest. 

I love how the church provides us with a community we can share lives with and I love how our movement puts so much premium on relationships. Thus, “Discipleship is relationship.” and “We are better together.” have easily become a household battlecry. But I realized there are things we need to know and understand as we walk through the Christian journey with our newfound family.

1. Our most important relationship is our relationship with Jesus.

If glitches in our relationships cause us to grow cold in our relationship with God, we should be concerned. When we begin to find it hard to worship, listen, and obey God whenever we are offended, it is time to ask: Is Jesus still the anchor of my faith or have I made people the basis of my ability to stay faithful?

2. Our relationship with Jesus should fuel our earthly relationships, not the other way around.

It is the love of Jesus that saved us. Our ability to love others unwaveringly, unconditionally, comes from an understanding that we can love much because we are known fully, forgiven entirely, and loved deeply by the King of kings and the Lord of lords. “We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).”

This excerpt from a book I read a few months back perfectly encapsulates this point:

“The shattered relationship between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit at the cross provides the basis for our reconciliation. No other relationship ever suffered more than what Father, Son, and Holy Spirit endured when Jesus hung on the cross and cried, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ Jesus was willing to be the rejected Son so that our families would know reconciliation. Jesus was willing to become the forsaken friend so that we could have loving friendships. Jesus was willing to be the rejected Lord so that we could live in loving submission to one another. Jesus was willing to be the forsaken brother so that we could have godly relationships. Jesus was willing to be the crucified King so that our communities would experience peace.

– Timothy S. Lane, Relationships: A Mess Worth Making

We would think that relationship challenges reveal the kind of friends we have. There is truth to that. But it is also true that a strain in our relationships reveal the condition of our hearts. 

Do we stay in relationships to get or do we stay to give? 

Do we expect others to be gracious with our imperfections and then expect them to be perfect or do we constantly acknowledge that we are all a work in progress, and that we have to constantly choose to understand and forgive every day?

Are our #SquadGoals a list of expectations we want our friends to meet or are they goals we can work towards together?

Purely Personal Pieces

Emotions Check!


Wait train

Try coming up with a list of all things unstable and unpredictable and you’ll find yourself holding a looooong one. If we’d compare lists though, I think we’ll all find “our emotions” somewhere on top.

In one of my conversations with a student, we talked about how it’s easy for us to like someone we get to interface/work with in ministry. Proximity leads to familiarity which can lead to fondness which can lead to liking. And the last one is what makes our emotions go berserk.

The conversation went on with us discussing two things:

  1. Acknowledge your emotions. When Jesus saved us, He did not expect us to be totally stripped off of our humanity. And our emotions are part of our humanity. We need to understand though that it is not our emotions that lead us to do the unwise, or worse, to commit sin. It is our response to our emotions that makes all the difference. Acknowledging our emotions means we are pointing out exactly what it is that we can lay down at the foot of the Cross, surrendering it to the One who is able to give us the grace to move in the most appropriate, God-honoring way. At the end of the day, we don’t bow down to our emotions. We make our emotions bow down to the lordship of Jesus.
  2. Acknowledge that your emotions are not stable. AT ALL. Try to make a mental count of all the people you’ve come to like until today. While you’re at it, also try to recall how you were so sold out at the time that that person is really, really, really “the one.” (Side note: Writing that just reminded me of a comment a friend told another friend in one of our barkada conversations. He said, “Bro, pang-ilang ‘the one” mo na yan.’“) If you did just that, then you would have already counted how many times your emotions have failed you. The heart is deceitful, the Bible says.

    So, how exactly would you know if the person is “the one”? He or she is simply the person who would show up on your wedding day – the one you’ll exchange rings and vows with, the one you’d get to go home with after the event is over. Until then, it could be anyone.

    I write this not so you can go about each day trying to spot potentials. I write this to echo what one of my mentors said a few years back: “The sign that says he or she is the one would be the ring on your finger and a piece of paper that has ‘Marriage Certificate’ as its heading.”

One of my friends was just telling me how he knew for certain that the woman he is pursuing right now is the one he wants to spend the rest of his life with. He got a “no” from the same woman the first time he tried. Ten years later, he tries again, for the same reasons he had ten years ago.

This is not to say we all have to wait this long to validate our emotions. This is to say that we are not losing time when we wait for our emotions to mature. This is to say that we take time to consider what we feel and consider how God feels about what we feel so we can respond in a way that aligns to His good, pleasing, and perfect will.

If “our emotions” would be on top of our all-things-unstable-and-unpredictable list, then I believe it’s only fitting that we go for something that withstands the test of time and circumstance. Our waiting time is not wasted time. What should be will come to pass. Just you wait!