Thursday, September 15, 2011

Only by God's Grace

"Only by God’s grace"

Often times, we hear the aforementioned words on Christians, especially those who believe in the salvation by grace through faith. This is also a common statement for believers who have survived crises. This is usually mentioned by Christians who, at some point, became wayward, but eventually straightened their path. It’s also stated by Christians who receive blessings, be it material, physical, or spiritual, and are thankful about it because they know that strictly speaking, they’re not worthy.

Speaking of God’s grace, during the 90s a comedy entitled Robingood (Sugod ng Sugod), a parody of Robinhood, in which Filipino actor Jimmy Santos portrayed Robingood. One time, he stole money, as usual, to give to the poor. Then, after the deed, he approached a Catholic monk, confessing his deed and giving the money. The monk prayed to God and it goes something like this: “Father, please forgive this fellow for all the sins (in this case, stealing) that he did…and those sins that he’s about to do (which, in this case, is stealing)! Funny as it may seem, but that’s exactly how we do it as Christians. We will commit sins, sometimes with gusto. Eventually, when the deed is done, we’ll tap our spiritual senses and pray to God for forgiveness. After all, God is gracious, isn’t He? Yes. However, God is also a God of justice, but that’s a different topic. God’s grace should not be abused.

There are preachers, pastors, theologians and their students (directly or indirectly [courtesy of books, pamphlets, etc.]) who say that it’s not always right to use those words. They said it right. Like we said in the previous paragraph, it’s wrong to abuse and misuse (hypothetically) God’s grace. However, no spiritually saved person can ever fall out of grace. Are you talking about salvation? Hmmmmmm, yes…and more. When you say God’s grace, it’s more than just salvation. If we’re saved by grace, then we should live by grace. Living by grace is more than just thanking God because we were blessed despite of what we did. Time and time again, despite our efforts to be good and near perfect, at the end, it’s still God’s grace that works in us, and we can’t get out of it. There are times that we get very frustrated every time we did something wrong. Whether we admit it or not, we felt frustrated, not because we committed sins, but because we felt that WE CAN’T COMMIT SINS or, in some people’s case, we felt that we became stupid. Why? Possibly because we don’t do things by God’s grace.

We don’t have the mind of God, but there is a possibility that the reason why God allows us to commit mistakes (or stupidity in some people) or be outsmarted, deceived, and manipulated by someone is because we highly think about ourselves. We think that we can’t commit sin or be outsmarted by someone by sinning against us (because we think we are smart). There are times that we think this way, “It will not happen to me, maybe to this guy or that guy, because he’s stupid, ignoramus, is not street smart, but not me. I’m street smart.” In others, “I’m above average IQ. It will not happen to me. I can do better than the rest of those below the 98th or even 95th percentile.” In that manner, we are putting God’s grace out of the picture. It becomes self-righteousness, instead of His grace. Worst, it’s pride.

God’s grace is living life as what God wants us to be. God’s grace is rising up every time we fall, be it in sin, business, sports, or in school. God’s grace is being thankful to Him for giving you strength despite of your limited, sometimes sickly, state of health. God’s grace is still doing His ministry while you still have the time, money, and energy to do so. After all, God’s grace is God providing us when we need it most. God’s grace is giving benefit of the doubt to the fallen brethren because we know God will help him if he allows God’s grace also to move to him. God’s grace is thanking God every time we did something good, not thinking that we made it because it’s who we are (and others are not). God’s grace is forgiving others for their wrong deeds. On the other hand, God’s grace is also allowing others to forgive at their pace and not forced forgiveness through manipulation, guilt trips, “my side first” mentality, and troop building because only God can heal the wounds of a hurt person.

As a summary, when we say “only by God’s grace”, we are saying that we allowed God to move in our lives, and bounce back in every failure, sickness, trial, and even disciplinary action. How is it possible? Only by God’s grace.

Happy Maverick

Most people who know me personally have always seen or viewed me as a happy maverick. Now, just like my usual catch phrase, please don’t get me wrong about this. Being a maverick may look awesome in some countries, but, in the Philippines and even inside Christianity circle, it is a quite a minus factor growing up. We Filipinos have what we call pakikisama. Digging through the theoretical definition of the word, it’s difficult. However, putting it operationally, it’s still difficult. Pakisama moves beyond getting along with others. It’s getting along well with others because of compromises. There are members of orthodox Christianity who sometimes takes pride that they don’t compromise. They’re not compromisers as they say. However, looking closer, the mere fact that they have friends lobbying for them proves otherwise. I believe in compromises. In fact, one of the conflict resolution tools used in organization is compromise. However, blending in is only applicable on certain customs, but not in all walks of life.

There are certain times in my life that I have compromised a lot. I have compromised my belief system, especially my faith. Just imagine being punch figuratively right and left just because hindi ka daw marunong makisama. I tried and did my best. I tried blending in. This is an indication that I am not bull headed, and have the capacity to listen to advices. I have to admit that it felt good at certain extent. There are positive feedbacks. Some say I loosened up a notch.

However, despite that, people that mattered to me never saw the efforts or never appreciated it verbally or by actions. I’ll only hear those positive words when I confronted them, which is rare. At times, it’s such a drag. Still, despite my discomfort, there were certain people that I need to get along to the point of compromising even my own faith and own belief systems because certain people that mattered to me will either give me guilt trips, fault finding, and never ending blah blahs on their view of life and more.

Recently, certain experiences have hit me once and for all. I don’t know if it’s God telling me something or it just sprouted from my innermost feeling. Certain recent experiences made me conclude that, more often than not, people, even those that matter to you, oblige you to do certain compromises, not really for your own good, but because they’ll be the beneficiary. Besides, it might be self-serving, but what I know with compromise is that it should be two-way traffic. However, it felt that it was not reciprocated well. Despite the pakisama, there is no belongingness. It’s a one-two punch. It was not reciprocated, and my Christian testimony marred. This time around, I’ll be once again the happy maverick you once knew, even if those people don’t care anymore. For instance, I’ll continue to wear generally acceptable attire, even if people will start calling me names. I’ll still sport that school boy haircut (sometimes crew cut), and I will not mind being called names. After all, my attire and haircut are generic. Nothing’s wrong with that. Call me names because of my certain actuations. At least, I don’t twist heads and use people. Do the guilt trips and indifference as you please. If they truly appreciate you for who you are, then why the difficulty in pleasing these certain people that mattered to you?

Yes, on certain extent, I will compromise, but not to destroy my belief system and my faith inside out. It’s better this way. After all, at the end, people stick to their own beliefs without compromise, why won’t I do the same? At least, I have no person to point my fingers when the going gets tough.

Happy maverick, that’s who I am.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Abjuration of Certain Acts of Circumvention

There are people who tend to use their brilliant minds just to get out of certain accountabilities or certain punishment. For generations, there are people who used their brain and good looks (if the person has one) just to evade accountability, or, in legal terms, avoid prosecution.

These people, one way or another, had victimized people through bullying, manipulation, power tripping, people-using, and gossips. Often times, it’s too late that the victims realized the situation. Worse, they ended up accepting the punishment or part of the punishment that these scoundrels should solely be accountable or should take part in the accountability. Where is the perpetrator? Scot free or hiding somewhere.

People around the victim of these people, even so called friends, will reprimand or rebuke the victim for being stupid, for allowing things like that to happen to him/her. The victim will be reminded to forget the past, forgive and avoid being bitter, and even give the victim guilt trips on that. The victims, dilutedbecause of misguided teachings on forgiveness, ended up more miserable because he or she didn’t follow a certain process or certain processes on forgiveness. Bluntly, they’re not helping. Since these kinds of people have established friendships (or pseudo-friendships), there are people who defended him/her, at the expense of the victims (it’s their freedom to also have friends anyway). Okay, it’s a general knowledge that we shouldnot be stupid. However, what happened to “not adding insult to the injury”?

Now, let me address this one by one to the people concerned…

To the perpetrator’s friends/loved ones, what if this happened to you? What if you were the ones hurt? Will you still have the guts to do things such as giving guilt trips and victim blaming? Will you still make the victims or their relatives or families suffer more just because you wanted to skip all the process leading to forgiveness? That’s sanctimonious! Or in plain language, acting like a good, devout person, but in reality, just avoiding hearing the true victim’s words. How about giving an apology, not because you’re wrong, but because you felt bad for the victims? Besides, face it, you may even know that the perpetrator is doing that or planning to do that on their victims/prey, yet because of your friendship, you shrugged it off. If you happened to be that person, you really, really have to apologize. Mark that word.

To the perpetrators: learn to accept accountability and consequences. Don’t let or allow others to suffer on actions that you are either solely accountable or partially accountable. You did something wrong, admit it, apologize to the victim, even if the victim rejected it (part of the consequence, chump). You are a very smart person. The fact that you have the capacity to manipulate and use people proves you have the gift. Why not use that gift to good use? Unless you’re a cold blooded psychopath or sociopath, you still have the heart to change for the better and not do it to other people. By accepting the painful walk to accountability, you may even go to the road called recovery.

To the victims: we have no choice, boys and girls. It’s normal that you wanted to make them feel the pain. However, let me just remind you about true forgiveness. Revenge should not be an option. By doing revenge, you ended up worse than the perpetrators. Go on. Be angry. Cry. It’s normal. However, let’s not indulge. Indulging in hatred will make those around you suffer, one way or another. No, don’t forced forgive someone; you’ll end up depressed. This is hard: try to empathize with the perpetrators. They have a history why they do the things they did to you. It will truly help. Move on, and move forward, but do it in your phase if you want.

To everyone: Still, in all of this, some of you might humorously say that the writer is “inspired” (may pinaghuhugatan at may pinatatamaan), making all the words mentioned discredited either by dismissing this or putting this as a joke.

Let’s say that this is “inspired”, let me ask this: am I ENTIRELY wrong? Isn’t it that it takes inspiration to write? If there’s even a single dot of sense in all of this, isn’t it unfair to dismiss this just because may pinaghugutan?

Yes, today’s article is passionately written, but still, yours truly know that it is still God’s prerogative who will truly be accountable on certain actions. We are in no position to question who will be punished or chastised by God or when it will happen. We only have an idea based on what the Bible is saying, BUT still, God has the upper hand. However, let us remind our own selves this thing: let’s be accountable if we did something wrong.