[previously titled: "THE BEST SELF-HELP EVER!"]
(written August 2005)
I’m saved. :)
When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, "Who then can be saved?" Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." (Matthew 19:25-26)
All my duties as a teacher, a student, a researcher, a Filipino, a taxpayer…even all my privileges, blessings, and wonderful relationships…all these are just cherries on top. (Ang daming cherry!) (There's so many cherries!)
God loves me, even before I was born:
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” (Jeremiah 1:5)
But I am saved when I stopped relying on myself, my good deeds, my religiousness (or lack thereof!). Dati, I just wanted to be the best person I could be, doing right in my own eyes…on my own terms.
“In those days…everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 17:6, 21:25)
Well, I turned out to be the *worst* that I could be. Sounds strange, or strangely familiar? For me, the things I hated in other people eventually became the same things I saw in myself.
It then became the most natural thing to tell God, “Okay Lord, let’s have it Your way!” Ano pa nga bang mapanghahawakan ko? Finally, after more than two decades of existence, He became my Savior.
I’m saved! He suffered the punishment which was supposed to have been mine, so I can be “credited” with His righteousness, His holiness. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Ang sarap maligo, ‘no? Pero with God, hindi lang 99.9% germs ang matatanggal.
“Behold, I make all things new.” (Revelation 21:5)
"Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”
Yes, we have the will, the good intentions. But we will always fall short of perfection; in our weak state we are always prone to fall into sin. Jesus tells us to trust in Him for our salvation, instead of trusting in ourselves. And even if we don’t reciprocate, He still loves all of us. It is His wish that all of us turn to Him.
It is His ‘wish’, because it is still your free will that decides whether to let Him save you or not. He is Lord of all Creation, but He respects your free will. You are free to choose between Him and…what other alternative is there, anyway? :)
So…now what? Bakit nga ba hindi pa tayo kinukuha agad ni Lord when we finally accept Him? For the same reason the original disciples were left looking up as Jesus rose up into the sky. (Dramatic! Hollywood can’t make up stuff like that!)
“Go and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19, 20)
“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature…” (Mark 16:15)
“You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
“Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary…that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:46-47)
Ang tawag pala dito ay the Great Commission. It was Jesus’ last command before He left the disciples. Guess what was His first command?
“Come follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19, Mark 1:17)
“From now on you will catch men.” (Luke 5:10)
Hmm! Galing ah! But we’re not just called to be great manghahatak for the sake of greatness itself…
(1) we’re called to lead others to Jesus…
One of you says, ‘I belong to Paul’, and another says ‘I belong to Apollos.’ When you say things like this, you are acting like people of the world. Is Apollos important? No! Is Paul important? No! We are only servants of God who helped you believe…So you should not brag about human leaders. All things belong to you: Paul, Apollos, and Peter; the world, life, death, the present, and the future --- all these belong to you. And you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.
(1 Corinthians 3:4-5, 21-22)
(2) …and we are called to love.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love one another.” (John 13:34-35)
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)
“These things I command you, that you love one another.” (John 15:17)
“As the Father loved me, I also have loved you; abide in my love.” (John 15:9)
The greatest commandment is love. Love everyone ha, not just those who are easy to love!
“But I say to you who are listening, love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who are cruel to you. If anyone slaps you on one cheek, offer him the other cheek, too. If someone takes your coat, do not stop him from taking your shirt. Give to everyone who asks you, and when someone takes something that is yours, don’t ask for it back. Do to others what you would want them to do to you.
“If you love only the people who love you, what praise should you get? Even sinners love the people who love them. If you do good only to those who do good to you, what praise should you get? Even sinners do that! If you lend things to people, always hoping to get something back, what praise should you get? Even sinners lend to other sinners so that they can get back the same amount!
“But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without hoping to get anything back. Then you will have a great reward, and you will be children of the Most High God, because he is kind even to people who are ungrateful and full of sin. Show mercy, just as your Father shows mercy.”
And another way of putting it…
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you, don’t stand up against an evil person. If someone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other cheek also. If someone wants to sue you in court and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. If someone forces you to go with him one mile, go with him two miles. If a person asks you for something, give it to him. Don’t refuse to give to someone who wants to borrow from you.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemies.’ But I say to you, love your enemies. Pray for those who hurt you. If you do this, you will be true children of your Father in heaven. He causes the sun to rise on good people and on evil people, and he sends rain to those who do right and to those who do wrong. If you love only the people who love you, you will get no reward. Even the tax collectors do that. And if you are nice only to your friends, you are no better than other people. Even those who don’t know God are nice to their friends. So you must be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is people.”
Sino nga ba ang “wicked”? The best example would be myself. I was a cruel, mean, selfish bee-yatch before God cleansed me, changed me, transformed me. I am still far from perfect, but in following Christ and striving to be like Him, I know I’m in the right direction.
“I do not mean that I am already as God wants me to be. I have not yet reached that goal, but I continue trying to reach it and to make it mine. Christ wants me to do that, which is the reason he made me his. Brothers and sisters, I know that I have not yet reached that goal, but there is one thing I always do. Forgetting the past and straining toward what is ahead, I keep trying to reach the goal and get the prize for which God called me through Christ to the life above.” (Philippians 3:12-14)
It’s easy to love the un-love-able when I remember na ganun din ako dati…or mas malala pa!
It’s easy to love the un-love-able, when I remember what Christ did for us:
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
But guess what? I’m not my old self anymore. And in following God, His desire --- for salvation and eternal happiness for everyone --- has become my own.
Wishes and hopes, good intentions and goodwill, are never enough. But God honors the desires of our heart, and He, the God of all creation, will be the one to empower us.
“When I go away, I will send the Helper to you.” (John 16:7)
“The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26)
Of course, I have to be prepared.
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that is in you.” (1 Peter 3:15)
Friends, this is my life so far. :)