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Archive for March, 2007

 

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.

 

 

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