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What’s your excuse?


For the first time in a long time, I decided to obey the makati number coding scheme which does not provide for a window period for banned cars.  I guess I woke up fearing the eagle eyes of the MAPSA.  So I took a cab to the office, anticipating that I would be able to rest – perhaps even sleep – through the traffic.  But it was not meant to be.

 

The cab driver was a chatty one.  I used to not mind talkative drivers, especially when they give me a lecture on how to take care of the car.  I just don’t like the ones who rant and whine about the Philippines and the government while disobeying each and every known traffic law.  But today was different.  It’s the first time I encountered a driver who was also a “missionary’s pastor” who was turned away by the head of a Bible college because, as he said, he already knew all there is to learn about the Bible.  That’s a big claim right there, so I was compelled to listen.

 

During the 40-minute drive, he recounted the details of his previous ministries, complete with picturesque descriptions of the prayer meetings he conducted under a mango tree in Tarlac, with men, women, and children coming in droves to listen to him.  His reminiscing was punctuated only by my occasional “opo”, “oho”, and “ok” – just to let him know that oh yes, I’m still listening, just talk on manong.

 

Manong was a former Catholic – he said he was trained under Bishop Bacani.  I don’t know how he became a taxi driver, but he said that one day, his passenger told him that he saw him preaching under the mango tree in Tarlac and that he was pleased with what he saw.  He then introduced himself as a bishop – a Christian bishop trained in the United States, who is also the head of a Bible college in the Philippines.  Church of the Good Shepherd Christian Ministry School or something.  The passenger gave manong his card and told him to go see him at the school. 

 

So manong went to the college, saw the pastor, listened to some of the teachers’ lectures, and critiqued their lessons.  After a few meetings, the head of the school offered to let him study there for free.  I don’t know how he transitioned from being Catholic to being a born again Christian, but somewhere along the way it happened, and he accepted the school’s offer.  When he spoke with the school head, however, the latter told him that he no longer needs to go through school because there is nothing more the school can teach him.  The school head and 11 other elders then interviewed him, asked about his statement of faith, and right then and there declared him a “missionary’s pastor”.  (I’m not quite sure if he meant “missionary pastor”; I’m just quoting what he told me.)

 

So he did the rounds of the churches affiliated with the school, preaching and teaching them on the Bible.  He said during those days, he would receive love gifts in unmarked envelopes – an evidence that it’s the people who gave the money.  Going rate was P800 to P1,400.

 

After a while, the school head went back to the US for further studies, and when he returned home, he said that the church should no longer be a unified ministry – he basically abrogated their former credo of “one church, one body”.  The affiliated churches should be independent churches, to allow them to grow and expand on their own, without relying on support from their mother church.  Manong said some of the pastors challenged the decision, but he studied the Bible again and he realized that that is indeed how the church should be.  The apostles did not set up one mother church, with their own ministries being under the mother church’s umbrella.  So he supported the move.

 

Manong, along with three other pastors, merged their churches together.  Manong became head pastor.  However, he had to relinquish the position to his brother because the church did not want to follow his lead, and he did not have any support from foreigners.

 

At this point, I got confused.  So I asked, “akala ko po ba gusto niyo na nga maging independent, huwag na umasa sa foreign support?”

 

“Masyadong mahirap ng walang suporta.  Tsaka hindi lang naman yun ang dahilan kaya ko ibinigay sa kapatid ko.  Hindi rin kasi ako sinusunod nong ibang tao e.”

 

We were already in Buendia, and I surprised myself by actually wishing that traffic would grow longer just so I can listen to this part of manong’s story.  I got my wish.

 

Apparently, manong was miffed when some of the people from the congregations that were merged with his did not kneel during prayer.  He questioned the pastors of said congregations, and he said he gave them three months to search for a Bible verse that would show that praying while standing up is allowed.  They came up with none.  I guess the people still did not want to obey his order that all but the crippled and those with casts on their feet should kneel when praying, so he stepped down and resumed his career as a cab driver.

 

I asked him why he gave up his ministry for such an issue.

 

“E kung hindi din lang naman nila ko susundin, e di wag na lang.”

 

So the issue of kneeling when praying was so important to him?

 

“E kung hindi mo rin lang susundin ang Bible, e bakit ka pa sasamba, di ba?”

 

Does the Bible prohibit praying while standing up?

 

“Labinglimang beses ipinakita sa New Testament na dapat nakaluhod pag nananalangin.  Yung mga apostol, kahit sa aplaya, lumuhod para manalangin.”

 

King David danced while praying.

 

“Iba naman yun, pagsamba naman yun.  Papuri yun.”

 

Isn’t praying a form of worship?

 

“Pag nananalangin ka, dapat naninikluhod ka sa Panginoon, humihingi ka ng awa.  Iba kapag nagpupuri ka.  Itanong mo sa pastor mo.  Di ba iba-iba yung portion ng service?  Una, pagpupuri, tapos sa dulo yung pananalangin.”

 

I don’t think there’s a fixed structure for a worship service.

 

“Meron.  Itanong mo nga sa pastor mo.”

 

The Bible teaches the fixed structure for Sunday service?

 

“Oo.”

 

Jesus did not have a formal church, did not hold formal Sunday services?

 

“…”

 

And oh yeah, there was one time when Jesus was surrounded by a huge crowd and he needed a place to pray, so he got on a boat, sailed away into the lake, and prayed.  The Bible didn’t say that he knelt inside the boat while praying.

 

“…”

 

I got to the PAL office and stepped off the cab thinking, this manong gave up his ministry on the excuse that his congregation wasn’t following the Biblical way of worship anyway.  What a waste. 

 

Then I thought, what about me?  What’s my excuse?

 

 

* photo from Shutterstock 

 

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censored

In all my 26 years on this earth, 97% of my enemies emerged when I became a Christian.

 

It’s no joke. I’ve done things I’m not proud of when I was still an unbeliever – steal a girl from a friend, have more than one girlfriend at the same time, treat others like dirt, steal, get in fights, curse my mouth off, take advantage of others – but I’ve never had so many people reject me until I became a Christian.

 

This should not be at all new to me, as Jesus himself said, “All men will hate you because of me” (Luke 21:17). While this is a lesson that every teacher warns a fledgling disciple –- that the world will reject you because you’re no longer following the ways of the world –- my situation is the opposite: I am rejected by those who claim to be my brothers and sisters in the faith.

 

The detractors came when I started speaking in FullCup, a ‘worship café’ we maintain every Friday night in Intramuros. I admit that I have always tried my best to inject something interesting and memorable (in other words, something my audience hasn’t considered before) in my preaching, because after all, what use is there to stand and speak in front if all I share is something that my audience has already heard a million times before? If I were unable to share something new or show a fresh take on an old fact, or make my audience rethink their assumptions or remind them of something valuable they have forgotten, then I have done nothing but mouth off tired platitudes — wasting my time and theirs.

 

I have never, however, sacrificed scriptural accuracy for excitement. Not only is there no use for it, there is also no need to do it. The bible is already teeming with action and excitement, all I have to do is present it in a way that would entice my audience to revisit their dusty tomes.

 

So I came up with preaching titled “Where is God in Sex?”, “Where is God in doubt?”, and “Jesus: Boy Next Door”. All of these messages received mixed feedback, but none as much as the ‘boy next door.’ The things I heard there weren’t just unfavorable – they were harsh and even hurtful. Apparently, the mere idea that Jesus could have taken the time to study and learn and grow as a human deserves crucifixion to some churches.

 

My latest preaching (click here to listen), a summary of a year’s worth of talks in FullCup, also received a ruthless stab — “you completely do not understand evangelism and what it really means to be the light and salt of the world… I wish you would never speak in a crowd again.” Strong words, especially from someone who I once thought of as a friend.

 

Disappointment with GodHere I am reminded of Philip Yancey, who received a ton of hate mail –- some he could not believe a Christian would ever say to another human being — upon the publication of his books “Disappointment with God” and “Where is God When it Hurts? This is the same author who was branded as a ‘card-carrying communist’ when he began supporting Martin Luther King Jr. and was called a ‘hound of satan’ when he didn’t reject a longtime friend of his when he admitted that he was gay. This is the same guy who witnessed a few dozen Christians shout curses and pronouncements of hellfire and brimstone upon thousands of gay men and women who were singing, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the bible tells me so” in a gay march in Washington. The incident profoundly affected Philip – remembering it in his many books. He couldn’t but question the paradox of what he saw — while the Christians were shouting hate and judgment, the sinners were singing of grace and redemption.

 

I have had unbelievers laugh at me when I tell them about the Good News of Christ’s salvation – some of them my friends who jokingly remind me of what I used to do before I became a Christian. I’ve had colleagues and fellow students debate with me when I tell them about my faith. I’ve had my family cry when I speak of the need to become born again. I’ve met indifference, wonder, interest, disbelief and a host of other reactions, but not once did I get hurt when I spoke to unbelievers about sin and Jesus –- not once, until I spoke to my fellow believers.

 

Of course, not all Christians are like this. My church has been wonderfully supportive, also my Christian friends who I meet mostly online. But the thing is, I expect support from these people – for am I not speaking of the same God? – that is why it is doubly hard when I hear hurtful words from people who profess to worship the same God.

 

Are my messages simply wrong? My pastor, several missionaries, and elders in the church don’t think so. A guy with a Masters degree on Divinity and a teenager don’t think so. What’s more, I’ve heard a missionary speak of the same message as I did to the same people and none of them gave a peep.

 

There must be something I’m missing here – something I have yet to understand that would explain why something so evident can be misconstrued so spectacularly. So until my pastor puts a stop to my preaching because he found just cause in it, I will continue sharing what I’ve learned with my walk with my God.

 

 

 

He never promised it would be easy anyway.

 

 

beautiful ones

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I’ve always wondered how it would feel to be the face in the billboard. To have a face or physique that could well earn a living. To be able to make the hearts of girls thrum with the merest sight of me, and to leave them giggling and flustered with a simple smile.

How does it feel, to have that power? How much more effective could i be if i had a face like Piolo Pascual’s, which, they say, can make knees tremble and hearts buckle? If I had the height and physique of Marc Nelson, how much easier could my life become?

Sadly, however, my God has deemed that I have an appearance that is, at best, ordinary. Perhaps it could grow to be loved by some people, but I am hardly one to make heads turn. I do not know why my God did not give me these weapons, these tools, but seeing how beautiful people get a lot of favors and breaks and perks, I bet those tools would’ve been mighty useful in my hands.

For that matter, I wonder why my God didn’t give me a voice that could rally His people with a song. Even my mother — hands down my greatest fan — gave up on me and my singing career. But I’m there — Sunday after Sunday — bawling my voice out to my God in worship. With a heart screamingly aching to sing for Him, I wonder why He didn’t give me the tools to do so exceptionally.

Average is what I am when it comes to the arts and sports. I can’t act even if my life depended on it, I dance funny, and the only drawings I ever made were ripoffs from X-Men and Street Fighter when I was still in gradeschool. Sure, sometimes I do get my point across in my writings, but my syntax needs major improvement and my writing voice is still under development.

My eyes are slow, that’s why the pingpong ball gets past me even if I love that game to pieces. The only karate I do is when I’m alone in elevators, and all the points, rebounds and assists I raked in basketball were paid for in blood and sweat. I wasn’t that tall, or fast or athletic, but I was tough enough to bang bodies at the post and I wasn’t afraid of the big boys. Where I lacked talent, I made up for in perseverance and determination. I may not be able to dunk on my opponent, but I’d sure as hell make sure my annoying defense would make him prefer to pass the ball instead of attempting a shot.

I’m smart, and I’m smart enough to know that there are others quantum leaps ahead of me. I am uncouth and horribly socially inept. Well-dressed and stylish chicks scare me. I am of average height, of ordinary appearance, with a commoner’s social stature. As much as Hallmark and Disney would like us to believe that everybody’s special, the same platitude inadvertently reveals my — our — mediocrity.

This can quickly turn depressing, with questions of one’s self worth and one’s unique purpose in the face of six billion other souls in the planet — a sphere that is but a speck in the unfathomable vastness of the cosmos. Why am I here? Where am I of use? Of what importance is my life when there are, literally, billions of others like me?

Strangely, God seems to see and evaluate us in a wholly different benchmark than what we are used to using. A centurion, just one of the many in the vast Roman empire, literally makes Jesus speechless with amazement. A liar and a betrayer is commissioned to be the rock of His church. An impure woman, a social outcast bleeding for more than a decade and worthless in everybody’s eyes, strikes a chord in the Savior’s heart that his jam-packed ministry schedule takes a detour just to meet her. In the eyes of Jesus, it seems, a person’s true worth is not something I am familiar with, nor equipped to evaluate. If I were to believe Him, it seems that I — with all my flaws and my mediocrity — am worth the One True God dying for.

As for one’s purpose, again, God shows a ‘preference’ for people no upper echelon manager would ever trust. A stuttering fugitive is tasked to face the Pharaoh and impudently say “let my people go.” A shepherd boy no different from the rest, is picked to become Israel’s greatest king. A deceiver and manipulator becomes the father of a chosen people. A disobedient prophet is ushered into the belly of a whale until he learns to speak the words he is told to speak. Looking at God’s history with His people, I come away not with an imposing portfolio of remarkable resumes, but rather a scruffy list containing the stories of the most ordinary of people being used most extraordinarily.

Herein lies the difficulty: unlearning to determine my worth not with society’s weighing scales, but through the eyes of the one being who matters — my God. Amidst everything that I have been taught since I could remember and against all instinct, I must pound it to my heart that it matters not who I am, what I’ve done, or even what I’m capable of doing — just the love that I have chosen to accept. My mediocrity, apparently, was never considered in the equation — all that is needed from me is to open my hands and receive His hands on my own.

In the end, when my thoughts turn to my worth and to my purpose, I must remember a quaint Jewish teaching that Philip Yancey wrote about. He said that Jews are told to carry two stones to know their place in the universe…

One stone contains the words “I am made but of dust.”

The other bears “The world was created for me.”

right today, and tomorrow

Itaas mo!There is a curious belief among Christians on the notion of culture and the sense of right and wrong. As an elder of my church once mentioned in an online discussion, there is no set-on-stone standard on whether something is acceptable or not – for an Irish Christian, it may be acceptable to drink beer, but for others, it’s not. So he said that to be safe, we should follow the verse that puts forward love (as Ailene wrote here) instead of our own convenience. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.” (1 Co 8:13)

While the verse gives us a way to live without causing others to stumble, the very idea that culture determines what should be acceptable and what is not just sits… wrong with me. While this undoubtedly happens – our way of thinking is largely determined by the society we live in, after all – it reminds me of a sentiment I always hear from Christians today: that it was ok to drink wine back in Jesus’ time, but it is no longer ok now. Two thousand years of history has somehow ‘corrected’ something that Jesus let pass – and actually participated in.

Of course, culture played a part on what is acceptable and what is not – even Jesus said that God allowed the Israelites divorce back in Moses’ time because their hearts were still hard back then (Mat 19:8). However, I have trouble accepting that God’s sense of right and wrong is swayed by mortal trends. He is beyond us, after all.

God didn’t seem to be influenced by what the rest of the world is doing – when He gave Moses the Levitical law, the provisions He made for women, for orphans, for the widowed and for slaves were all revolutionary back then – the Jews treatment on the abovementioned groups were far more sophisticated compared to their neighboring nations precisely because that is what God has commanded. Even Jesus’ treatment on women was revolutionary – some would even say scandalous. He gave them respect, attention and gentleness that no society at that time bestowed on women.

This tells me that my Lord, as the God that He is, is the one leading and dictating what is right and what is wrong – not just gently nudging what society or culture can accept. If it was ok for Him back then to drink wine, then why should it be different now? My God is the immutable God, after all.

The trouble lies, I think, not with our God changing His mind, but in our propensity to twist what is perfectly acceptable to God and make it detestable. This is the very character of sin – something pleasurable to God horrendously perverted. Eating becomes gluttony. Drinking becomes getting drunk. Sex becomes sex before marriage. Gentleness becomes cowardice. Strength becomes violence. Firmness becomes cruelty. The desire to do what is right becomes legalism.

In our fear of perverting what God has given us, or (perhaps more honestly,) in our effort to look like we’re not sinning, we run away from the wholesome and delightful pleasures that God purposely made to delight His children.

Our God created every pleasure in this world. Let me repeat that because it’s so important – OUR GOD CREATED EVERY PLEASURE IN THIS WORLD. The devil is the one who introduced perversions in that pleasure to make it harmful and detestable. Our God is not a miser – He is not a bitter old man in the sky looking out to smite any Christian who has any fun. He made all the pleasures in this Earth precisely because He wants to give joy to His children.

I think this is a duty that we Christians always neglect – that we represent our God in this fallen world. Widespread is the belief that Christians are tame, stiff people who have no fun at all. That is why they think of us as corny or flaccid – the world rarely sees a joyous Christian. Most people would want us as neighbors but not as someone they would hang out with.

That is why I laugh whenever I see young men shouting and jumping around while praising God in FullCup – even if I personally find such energetic displays perhaps a tad too much. For why should the devil have all the fun with Rock and Roll? I want to run screaming in the streets and bug every single person I see to look at those boys – that’s the joy brought by my God! Wouldn’t you want something like that in your life?

While it is also true that we should be mindful if we’re making our fellow believers stumble, I ache for the time when we are all mature enough in the faith to show the world that Christians aren’t afraid — that NOTHING in this world can overwhelm us, whether it is troubles or pleasures. I long for the time when we approach pleasures not with trepidation or hypocritical disgust, but with gratitude, humility, and restraint: gratitude to our God for giving pleasure to this world; humility in recognizing that we don’t deserve any of it; and restraint by only partaking of these pleasures the way that God intended.

So… you think we can holler “bottoms up!” soon for our God? Ü

 

Sans souci

If you want to learn how to trust God blindly, I suggest you start a career in advertising. God knows that He keeps using my career in advertising to teach me how to have more faith and how to obey with nothing behind me but faith. I know what you’re thinking: “Seriously, Ailene. It’s advertising. It’s not like a career in medicine or materials engineering. You’re exaggerating.”

Maybe. So let me give you an example. Let’s say that your client needs you to organize an event for them. Big client. They want a golf tournament, with a beautiful cocktail party afterwards and party giveaways to boot. They want all their top clients to be invited. The client agrees to everything you say, and tells you that you only have 30k pesos to do everything. Oh, and they want to have the golf tournament in 10 days.

So you manage to get the list of 1,200 clients they want to invite, predict the percentage of rejected invitations, come up with a plan B to E lists of if-Plan-A-Client-Refuses, you organize a team of call center specialists to call and follow up and then follow up again the list of clients, you monitor the call center team, you generate daily reports, you attend meetings, you approve swatches, propose design ideas, mass-produce banners, you make timelines and contact venues. All this in four days.

During this entire process, you worry. In big, bold, capital letters: WORRY. about every single thing. You worry that you will never reach your target, that the contract will be voided because you didn’t meet your deadlines. You worry that you’ll overshoot your target and then you start worrying about what you’re gonna do if more people than you need show up. You worry about the talent you hired and then you worry about the production team you hired. You worry about the bags, shirts, golf balls you had mass produced for this one event. You don’t sleep. You spend hours and hours on the telephone. You worry about what the client will say, then you worry about what they don’t say. You develop ulcers. You become allergic to the word ‘golf.’

Oh, and this isn’t your only project. You’re also organizing a mini-party for the board chairman, revamping the look of somebody else’s retail outlets, and making a new ad plan for this fiscal year.

You know what’s the worst part? You have a contingency plan for the contingency plan of your contingency plan. It’s the height of obsessive-compulsive-ness.

The misconception is that advertising is a glamorous job. It’s not. It’s dirty, stressful, and tiring. It just takes so much out of you, all that worrying and nitpicking and the revisions.

The first time I worked for an ad agency, after two years of endless revisions and whiny clients and a moody boss, I burned out. At the end of two years, I wanted to pitch the Powerbook G4, the PDA, the nifty phone, and the not-so-bad salary out the window.

This is the second time I’m working for marketing/advertising. And to be honest? If there’s any lesson I’ve learned by now it’s that God is a much better advertising/marketing person than me. Something will always go wrong, but if you’re coming from a place of rest (i.e. God’s arms), then ultimately, it’ll all work out.

In this career: I only have two choices. I could worry. Or I could trust God. If I worry, yes, I get to control the situations as they come up. But why would I want to do that? Every time I try to control everything I get overwhelmed, and then it all crashes and burns.

After years of learning the hard way, I give up. I’m trusting God every time, with any thing I do in this job. Want me to be a one-woman marketing team? No problem, as long as I have God here it’s going to be alright.

I can’t imagine now how I survived without God leading me every step of the way.

an optimistic pessimist

I’m a pessimist — in that I firmly believe that this world, apart from the Grace I know, is not able and will not do me any favors. I’m also an optimist — in that I know that beyond this muck, there is something definitely better.

There was a time when I used to believe the all-too-familiar movie line, “There is a bit of goodness in everyone.” I believed it heart and soul, too. I expected good out of everyone, and that if ever they did wrong, they would eventually snap out of it and apologize to the people they wronged and make right the things they disturbed. I bit that — hook, line and the freaking fisherman with it. But that was a looong time ago.

What I am right now is a product of two distinct forces — the flood of bad things that the world has dealt me, and the irresistable Grace that has saved me and promised that there is something more beyond what this world can offer.

While this might seem confusing to some people, the two forces actually work together to create a profound peace in me. I find that worrying about stuff is a sure way to waste your time, because no matter what you do, this world will deal you bad things at any point in time. Some of them you can work on, most of them you can’t stop. Why waste your time worrying? Also, I find that behind all of this, my God is definitely – without any hint of inability – in control. I find that His will and His grace are both irresistable forces – they cause all things, no matter how bad they may seem to be at any moment in time, to ultimately work for the good of those who love Him. Why waste my time worrying?

Some people are turned off by my relaxed way of dealing with situations. When people feel the need to be disturbed by the bad things that happen around them, or the stupid/sick things people do with their lives, I’ll most likely take it all in stride. When I was in college and all the idealism in the world was with me, I might have stood up and said, “Ok, so what can we do to help solve this?”

Now, I’ll probably stop and take a good, long look at the situation. If it can be helped, then we try. If it can’t be helped, then we’ll probably need to go just let it come. If we tried helping and things still go bad, it means that there’s a lesson in there somewhere that needed to be learned. Some people will see this as inaction, I see it as a trust in God’s will I have learned through the years, and I’ve learned most of it the hard way.

You may say that my faith has been diluted with cynicsm. There is some truth in that, maybe. I can only find comfort in the fact that my passion for God has never been greater than it is today — in a world that has constantly frustrated, He is the only hope that I can even look forward to.

What then do we do about bad situations, bad people, bad things, bad attitudes? I say we live with them while we’re here, temporarily. We extend grace always — God will redeem those that He wants to redeem for the glory of His name. We look forward always to what His will can accomplish in this world and in the next.

As for me, I will lift up my voice continually in worship, exercise my faith, and pray that this flawed version of me will be continually made perfect each day I walk with my God.

bar(red)

I initially wanted to write something in defense of lawyers. Heaven knows the legal profession has been the butt of jokes for the longest time. I just felt it’s high time to affirm the good in the legal community.

But I got pissed off with this lawyer-client we had, who lodged a formal complaint with our personnel department, because the telephone operator in our office called him in his cellphone (which we didn’t know was his) and asked if he was the secretary of himself. After I learned of this incident I wanted to lash out at all those pompous asses out there who are both so insecure that they feel they have to defend their “standing” at the slightest affront, and at the same time too egotistical to actually be offended by an honest mistake!

But I realized that this paradox is not confined to the legal profession alone. Lawyers who sincerely believe that they are significant members of a civilized community have no monopoly on haughtiness and conceit. Everyone who thinks himself a “somebody” is prone to have delusions of importance. Every person who has worked hard to attain an achievement is likely to lord it over another who can not boast of the same or a similar feat.

I myself have been guilty of this. Lawyering is both my boon and my bane. It wasn’t just once that I ended an argument with “I’m a lawyer, please just have your lawyer call me” without a sincere intention to discuss the matter any further. I just knew, and I was taking advantage of the fact that, there are people who are reluctant to argue with someone who knows (or pretends to know) the law. I lean on the authority of my title, and I sometimes find myself subconsciously believing that I not only have the mandate to evaluate others, but more so the right to act according to my evaluation.

I am reminded of the Bible’s teaching about the law and legalism. Of course I know that references in the Bible to the law do not pertain to the written rules governing contracts and the like, which is basically what present-day lawyers are masters of. Instead, they pertain to the rudiments of acceptable conduct that governed the lives of the people before Jesus came to earth. They pertain to the strict do’s and don’ts that have been traditionally accepted as the ways to earn a ticket to heaven. But whenever I read Romans 3:20, I can’t help but equate and see the almost literal applicability of it to lawyers and such other legalists in our present society. …for through the law comes consciousness of sin.  Yes, those who know the law, both then and now, are usually more interested in pointing out your mistakes, than helping you do right.

It is a sad fact that the learned, the intellectuals, the educated, the achievers, usually find it hard to grapple with grace. In my 6 years of involvement in the legal profession, I distinctly remember the very few persons who admit that they are lacking and that they need. Most others are content with their own victories, or if not, are determined to find their own paths to their own brands of success, without a clue that they are missing out on the one thing they don’t have to work hard for yet is worth more than everything they possess. I guess for those people who believe they deserve the luxuries they enjoy in life, it’s not easy to accept that they can’t work their way to heaven as well. The truth that sharing in a carpenter’s death and resurrection is the only way to gain eternal life just doesn’t sit well with those who are not used to sharing anything. That the gift of eternity is free, that makes it doubly suspect to people who have the capacity to pay.

It is hard to find an evangelist lawyer, simply because the harvest in that field is defiant. I once had the passion – the dream – of sharing my faith with my classmates in law school, but after a few weeks of trying and getting shut down each time (at times even by ones who profess to be Christians themselves), I gave up. I know I am not justified in giving up; after all, it is a command for us to spread the Word. But my faith and perseverance faltered at the face of intellectual persecution and “logical” debate.

Up to now, I’m dealing with this struggle. I confess that when God presents me with opportunities to share my testimony to a non-believer, fear and self-doubt instantly grip me. I confess that I still have to remind myself each time that it’s not by might, nor by pow’r, but by God’s Spirit that people hear and believe.

I look around me – at the people in my office, at the clients I deal with – and I ask, should I just let these lawyers go to hell? (sometimes I feel they deserve it.) But I am reminded that when God forgave the sins of the world, He did not categorize by profession. So neither should I. Legalist or no legalist, deserving or not, God died for them(us) too.

 

*photo from shutterstock.