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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God's Love, Love

To love, or not to love?


Let me tell you what I know about love.

NOTHING.

I knew it was supposed to be the prerequisite for relationships, but growing up in a single-parent home, I thought love was scary. And painful.

Looking at relationships around me growing up and seeing how some work and some don’t, I thought it was a risky, risky endeavour to take on.

I knew love supposedly fuels friendships, but being one who has been openly disliked in school, I thought investing less saves one from unnecessary disappointments.

And so, it has always been a question of whether to love or not. And more often than not, I’d choose the latter.

Everything I knew about love was reduced to NOTHING when Love found me.

It was then that I understood that no one person cannot NOT love. One cannot love enough when one chooses to love the self more. That was the reason why I always chose not to love. I feared for myself. I loved myself more.

We cannot love enough because we love ourselves more.

But He loves us way more than we love ourselves. And He loved more than He loved Himself, He died the death we should have died.

Today, His love is EVERYTHING that I know about love.

Love is scary, but His perfect love casts out every fear. Love is painful, but His love heals broken hearts and binds up wounds. Love is risky, but if loving is what it takes for us to have a glimpse of the magnitude of His love for us, then it’s always a risk worth taking.

Loving is hard when you love from nothing. Loving becomes doable when you know you’ve been given everything. Jesus gave His everything. He loved this much. And if one is loved this much, it is no longer a question of whether we should love or not. We love because He first loved us.

A friend posted this song on Facebook and I find it to be the most appropriate ending to this entry. This is how much He loves. This is how much we are loved. This is what we remind ourselves when fear overtakes our resolve to love. This is why we can love, love some more, and love again and again.

 

 

 

 

Evangelism, Following Jesus, God's Love, Values

When bad things happen to “good” people


In the summer before my junior year in college, the unimaginable happened at home. A misunderstanding triggered my stepdad to run amok and then threatened to kill me and my Mom and burn our house down. I can still remember how we had to run for dear life and called 911 when we got to our neighbor’s house.

Before we ran, I remember I stood there for a moment, while the lights were all turned off, the windows all closed, and all I could see was the flickering wick of the candle held by the man I’ve called Papa for 13 years. All I could ever think of then was, “Lord, I’ve been good. What are you punishing me for?”

Quite a rephrasing of a question so often asked: “If God is real, why do bad things happen to ‘good’ people?”

This is a story of how I found that: Bad things are bound to happen because there are no good people, and that there DEFINITELY is a God.

I got introduced to God and the gospel at a missionary baptist sunday school when I was 5. Because I was kind of programmed to always go for all things good, I didn’t have a hard time embracing the morals of Christianity growing up. Even when my Mom and my then stepdad decided to stop going to church, I would find a way to join my classmates attend mass and somehow served in church. I prayed. I read the Bible.

I grew up making sure I excelled in academics, I was officer of the student council and several other clubs and interest groups from grade school up until college. I was literally all over the place – academics, extra-curricular, socio-civic. I always chose the crowd I’d hang out with, I never got drunk, never smoked, never thought the idea of having a relationship is as attractive as keeping the title of “good daughter.” I had to earn points so my real Dad would take notice of me and maybe at some point call me his.

I decided never to have anything to do with church after that tragic incident. I felt like there was no point believing in God. He must not be there that night or He didn’t care at all. Or maybe, there wasn’t a “Him” to begin with.

And then there were all the anthropology, sociology, psychology, and logic classes where our professors would talk about how the world came to be because of a random explosion in space and how humans have developed from single cells that evolved through time. I almost got convinced I just happened by chance until our professor in Speculative Thought said, “I am not afraid of death. What I am afraid of is the idea that after I die, I will float into nothingness.” I thought to myself, “There must be a lot more to life than just living it and surrendering to nothingness afterwards.”

I noticed later that I was always surrounded by people who believed in Jesus, prayed, read the Bible, invited me to church like nothing else matters. Also, my name is a constant reminder of God, and Christianity, and Jesus.

I cannot count how many times I heard the gospel, but it never really, truly got to me until the invitation was for me to be fathered by Him.

I remember that moment distinctly. That moment when the word during the Youth Service was about the Fathers’ Love and my would-be small group leader handed me and a couple of other students a print out of Psalm 139. We were asked to read it. Aloud. By then my voice had become unreliable, my vision blurred from all the tears I’ve kept for years.

Psalm 139

He saw what happened that night! He knew how scared I was. He was there when I felt like it was the end. And He saved us that night.

HE SAVED ME THAT NIGHT…

…AND PURSUED ME IN THE DAYS THAT FOLLOWED.

Two statements sum up what I have come to know that day:

1. No one person is good enough.

I wasn’t good. At all. No one qualifies as good. And bad things happen because we are predisposed to do bad things. Romans 3:23 says it best, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

2. He who qualified to be good enough loved enough.

That predisposition to sin had no known cure until “…God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. -2 Corinthians 5:21, NLT” 

Not only was Christ good enough, He loved enough to endure insult, suffering, and the most painful death a human could ever go through. And then He rose from the dead and have been saving and pursuing every human being ever since.

All those thoughts I had about how there should be more to life, those people He surrounded me with, that day He gave me my name (Emmanuelle: God with us), that was all Him pursuing me, reaching out to me, loving me. And I didn’t have to store points to earn that love.

This is a story of how I found that: Bad things are bound to happen because there are no good people, and that there DEFINITELY is a God. 

And the story of what compels me to share the love that I found in Him for as long as I shall live.

– – –

This post is just one of the many stories of Evangelism there is. Check out these blogs for more inspiring and faith-building Jesus-encounters!

1. How Will They Hear? by Joe Bonifacio
2. Jesus is More Than Just a Ticket to Heaven by Dennis Sy
3. Radical Love That Demands a Radical Response by Paolo Punzalan
4. Bad News, Good News by Jenn Punzalan
5. The Great Passion by Ernie Aragon
6. The Miracle at Kenny Rogers’ Roasters by Ganns Deen
6. Open Door, Closed Heart by Sofia Paderes
7. Walk This Way by Karess Rubrico
8. The British Singer by Jek Valle
9. Dare to Share by Carla Peralejo-Bonifacio
10. Let it Glow (and no, this is not about Frozen) by Charls de los Reyes