Tuesday, October 09, 2012
Watching a docu about the history of Shanghai on Nat Geo had me transfixed for an hour. Unlike reading a book that may take days or weeks, viewing the growth, decay and resurgence of “Asia’s New York City” in a rush of images can bring not just instant valuable lessons but also deep insight into the thoughts and character of the people who inhabited and built one of the fastest growing cities in the world today.
Talk about a marvelogue, not a travelogue!
One imagines visiting the city to see its history and the progress it has achieved. And yet, scanning an aerial perspective of the city, I stop and think: Hey, this is one of the kingdoms of this world! Yes, it used to be a kingdom – literally, at that, under the Qing dynasty – before it became a central commercial metropolis.
China may not be a literal kingdom today; but it is essentially a political, military and economic force to be reckoned with. One that has a huge influence on the stability of the entire world.
Then there is Macau, Singapore, Hongkong, Tokyo, New York, London, LA, Dubai, Sydney and so many others. All of these are run by the great economic energy that moves the entire globe and touches the lives of billions of people. Even the irresistible allures of culture play second fiddle to the mesmerizing tunes of economics. Whoever has a finger dipped into its life-sustaining wealth also has the power to make or unmake the future of nations, peoples and families.
Imagine climbing Mt. Everest today with a special telescope that can view those cities (well, the Internet will do that, easily) and put yourself in the sandals of Jesus Christ before His arch-enemy, Satan, offering all those “kingdoms” – their power, wealth and influence – to you. Would you accept them? Would you gain the whole world in exchange for your soul?
The answer may be easy for some. But let us make the situation a bit tougher and within reality bounds: You are poor, starving and thirsty – just as Jesus was. In that situation, you are given to choose just one city to go to as a foreign worker. As an engineer, perhaps, or a truck-driver, a singer or a sales manager. You are given a chance to improve your dire financial status back home. Which means getting a salary thrice or more than what you would normally get.
Out of desperation or practical choice, many have done it. I have not; but have thought about it more in recent months. Until I saw that Nat Geo docu. Let me explain.
I am poor, often hungry and thirsty and in desperate financial and emotional condition as a result of some choices I have made in my life. There is no one to blame. No particular reason to point to for what I have failed to achieve so far in my life. Only God to thank for for the blessings and the wisdom that He gives from day to day.
I am not saying working as an OFW is giving in to Satan. Indeed, Satan claimed he had a kingdom. But he was lying. Christ, after His resurrection, would claim “all power and authority” as having been given to Him by the Father in Heaven. What Satan was offering was the easy way out of our physical, emotional, financial and spiritual needs. “Kneel down to this world’s allure” vs. “Kneel down to the mighty God”. Remove your suffering by choosing the devil’s means or suffer need and await God’s powerful salvation. Cut short your mission in your own time or finish it in God’s time. Choose temporary material wealth or eternal spiritual riches.
The false kingdoms of Satan continue to prosper, of course, on borrowed time. The deception remains at work. As long as people hunger and thirst, it will. That is why Christ taught us to “hunger or thirst for righteousness”. That is the only we can receive God’s bountiful blessings.
Yet, as before, today, within those earthly kingdoms are people who devote their time and lives to serve God. They have been planted there for a purpose. Believers, like the Hebrew slaves, may serve foreign masters while they remain God’s servants. Ultimately, God wants us to be freed of the bondage. Not the virtual bondage of working in a foreign land but the vicious bondage of subservience to the ways of the world.
Materialism is a big trap that can accommodate millions or billions of people. The western world – from Rome or Amsterdam to Toronto or Las Vegas -- perfected the system that feeds the whole world’s desire for more and more of it. Japan, China, Singapore, South Korea and others have put their stake upon this world economy and all others, without exception, would want to be counted in. Governments feel the burden to make their money-making engines run efficiently for their people.
All the benefits, comforts and conveniences we have today we owe to the economic and political progress we have achieved globally. Yet, the spiritual progress that Jesus Christ lived and worked for remains unfulfilled – no, hidden! -- within the shadows of the global economic and political kingdoms of this world.
Defining what real personal and national progress is is essential to defining what true life and genuine wealth are. The King of Kings awaits our undivided allegiance.
(Painting above: "The Temptation of Jesus" by Gustave Dore.)
Friday, July 20, 2012
Why do we love? Do we seek love or does it seek us?
Look at the bird. Does it look for the wind in order to fly? No, the wind is always there. The bird does not drive or pull the wind. It simply rides it and enjoys the ride. Why? Because it has wings to fly with. And the wind, though unseen, lets the bird soar freely by giving way and lifting up its wings.
The wind and the bird are one in purpose -- one gives, the other receives; one lets live, the other lives.
Love is always there for everyone. Love drives us, pulls us, draws us on and lifts us up. Why? Because we have a heart to love with. A heart that does not love is like broken wings. It cannot start to fly because of fear. And fear is the worst enemy of love.
Love and the heart are also one in purpose -- one empowers; the other reigns; one grants glory, the other feels Eternity.
We love because the heart beats with the rhythm of life. And life is born of love. We do not need to seek love; it does not need to seek us. For love abounds where life abounds.
The bird that sits on the branch knows the wind is there. Until the wings move, the wind, though it remains still, will not lift the bird to the skies. The energy that allows flight comes from the thrust of the bird's wings. Love can only come when the heart beats in time with love's magical music.
Until the heart loves, the joy that love brings, though it awaits in stillness, will not raise a person to the clouds.
(Photo above: Caspian Tern, taken by Herb Knufken.)
Friday, July 13, 2012
I tread no-man’s land, a place many will not dare enter because it has become anti-social, homophobic, unethical and, eventually, illegal. And it will surely happen when the so-called "third sex" finally puts a senator in place in the coming 2013 elections. By then, the teachings of the prophets (hence, the teachings of God) would have been superseded by human laws made to ultimately institutionalize sin, depravity and immorality disguised as a choice of lifestyle.
Let me then say it now while I can do so without being charged in court:
Homosexuality is a psychological or emotional, non-biologically-based, social and spiritual malady. It is a clear violation of divine and natural order.
Matthew 19:4 clearly reminds us that “In the beginning, God made them male and female.” Who made them male, female and gay? Humans did, thus, destroying the law and order of Heaven. Was God right in destroying Sodom and Gomorrah? Who else can destroy other than the One Who created? That is why there is judgment in the end: in order to set things right for Eternity.
Sexuality is for this world’s functions: reproduction, companionship, etc. In Heaven, however, marriage and sex will no longer exist. The problem with this sexual movement and other like groups is that people do not see beyond this temporal world.
Yes, we live in a temporal world by virtue of sin. If it were not for the Fall, this would have been a deathless, everlasting world. We behave the way we do because we fall short of God’s eternal nature given to us from the beginning. We choose to disbelieve and disobey His laws of Nature and of the Spirit because we have been given up to the wiles of the Deceiver, the Destroyer of Life and the Ruler of this Fallen and Cursed World whom we follow willfully. We do not see him but his fruits are there. In fact, we merely refuse to acknowledge him because we also refuse to acknowledge the original work and plan of God. We think we invented marriage, sex, life and, yes, even God Himself!
We woke up one day and saw the beauty of Nature on Discovery Channel and think that that is the entire reality of things. Our 2-D appreciation prevents us from seeing the 4-D reality of God’s handiwork.
Our birthright and destiny is Eternity. Our parents, Adam and Eve, had it already in the beginning. They lost it and, yet, we got it back through their Seed – Jesus Christ. His resurrection proves His teachings and warnings are true. For proof of His resurrection, the Bible records the eyewitness accounts of those who saw, touched and talked to Jesus after He arose. It takes as much faith to believe them as it takes to believe there is such a thing as a third sex. Yes, it takes faith both to believe a truth or a lie. Logic must come to our aid.
But all this reduces to simple common sense. No one is born gay or lesbian. The environment spawns it. Any biological imbalance that supposedly engenders effeminate or masculine tendencies is a false scientific justification for a purely emotional and psychological disorder. And even if there were such genetic impairment, it does not follow that a person has no moral control over his or her actions, given the proper training and guidance. Train a baby to believe and behave like a monkey and it will do so.
Did God consider any scientific or biological impetus to aberrant sexual behavior before burning Sodom and Gomorrah? No! Why did He not at least wait for humans to discover scientific basis for homosexuality before judging by fire and brimstone? Because there is no such thing! Or has He stopped judging because humans finally found justification for a sin so abominable He just had to show us His vengeful wrath with cataclysmic consequences? And twice at that – no, thrice, don’t forget Pompeii! He has hundreds more of volcanoes and the whole Earth’s core for the final reckoning. (If I can scare people away from sin, it will be all worth it.)
It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the mighty God. I would not want that to happen to friends or to any person. But people choose to be hard-hearted or hard-headed. Therefore, God has no other choice than to be iron-fisted. A fair warning is all that needs to be said before the whole Universe ultimately melts in fervent heat. And what will happen to our bodies? Our spirits? Learn from God and be prepared; that is the least you can do for your Creator, if not for your own sake.
Remember, God has the supreme power to enforce His laws even to the point of destroying our bodies and our spirits which He created for His glorious purposes. Yet, human governments have gradually diluted that power to administer divine justice through moral and righteous rule. In the end, the blood and the souls of many erring people will be in the hands of those who implement laws that work against Divine Will. Judgment will fall upon those who change the Eternal Plan of Heaven – whether in marriage or in sexuality issues. Christ is not called King of kings for nothing, mind you.
At first, and even till now, God enforced His laws through the human conscience. (Romans 2:12-16) Hence, even without a written law, humans have the capacity to behave morally. Thus, on that basis, the condemnation of Sodom and Gomorrah becomes more fundamentally significant. Having failed to enforce His rule through the action of the conscience, God used Nature to exact punishment and instil discipline -- a valuable lesson for us all today. Eventually, He gave the Mosaic Law as a means of teaching humans how to respect His revealed ordinances. That failed as well. Finally, He gave the Holy Spirit in human hearts through Christ as the final gift for humans to learn to become His eternal children. THIS TIME, IT WILL NOT FAIL FOR THOSE WHO BY FAITH ENDURE. And, consequently, His justice will reign.
Obviously, humans are a work in progress. Yet, God has reserved His work and every human work for a final testing by fire to determine what will last and what will not. Why wait to find out what will happen? The fire in our bellies already tells us that the Almighty God will prevail and not us proud, puny creatures.
Mind the spirit; the body is a deceitful slave.
(Oil painting above: "Adam and Eve" by German Renaissance painter Hans Baldung,1484-1545.)
Saturday, April 07, 2012
In our high school religion class under a Roman Catholic seminarian, we were asked: Why did God create humans? The same question had been asked of our teacher’s class by a nun who promised to give a gold necklace to the one who could give the best answer. Well, he felt sorry he could not give me a necklace that time. It was then I realized that I might just become the priest my mother had wanted me to be. Honestly, I found the answer quite easy, perhaps because I had heard it somewhere or we are serendipitously aware of important divine truths. If God reveals some things to us, who are we to deny Him?
My answer? God wanted to share His joy with us humans. So, is our life joy-filled and overflowing? Is our religion a true reflection of the JOY FROM HEAVEN? It has taken me all these years to seriously consider this question in the light of my experiences as a Christian.
I did struggle through a lot of moral and spiritual issues since adolescence. Eventually, I became a born-again believer in college in 1976. In 1990, I entertained revolutionary spiritual ideas and wrote a book that would overturn my own views of the “Eucharist” or “Communion” and would lead me to a lonely path away from organized religion. Writing my first book, The Missing Ingredient in the Lord’s Supper would cause a heartbreaking experience in my family life which I do not regret a bit to this day. Amazing lessons, experiences and discoveries would open up my life to new vistas of freedom and adventure I never thought possible.
Today, most of my friends, Catholics or Evangelicals, look at me as a drifter who is neither here nor there. Many of them probably consider me a heretic for espousing contrary and, as you will see, irreverent ideas. A lot of church-going people often take me to task for not attending church services. We all remain good friends and brothers; but unfortunately, we do not fellowship the way Christians should. That is one sad result in this so-called “good news” delivered by the Savior who bled for unity and peace among His disciples.
Yes, I do have a lot of explaining to do for my beliefs and I’ve done so in four published books and countless articles. A new manuscript-in-the-making adds to my collection of personal “apologetics”. Whether people believe the things I write or not is not the important thing. Much like the ancient prophets, I write in solitude and in contemplation of historical and contemporary realities while trying to keep a humble and obedient spirit before the Lord.
Religion is a very personal thing and I believe it is every individual's duty to discover for oneself a firm, fresh look at eternal realities based on God's past and active revelation in history and in one's life. In short, religion should not define us by what we do to fulfill certain obligations supposedly coming from God. We define it by what we do for God in fulfilling people's needs. (James 1:26-27)
One thing is certain for me: People have not changed from the time of Adam. Sin remains as grievous and as corruptive as in the time of Noah. Death is still the main problem that faces every human since the time of Cain and Abel. And the lust of the eyes and of the flesh and the pride of life remain to be the primary motivators of human behavior from the time of Eve. As such, the Bible does not and will never lose its value and relevance.
Holy Week does not fail to bring a sense of piety or spirituality, to Filipinos particularly. Everyone seems to be into some spiritual or religious exercise or activity, whether for physical or spiritual reasons. Let us take an incisive look at this event.
But before proceeding, you might ask: What qualifications do I have to speak for the Almighty God? How can a non-affiliated, non-ordained so-called Christian speak for such deep truths that require years and years of serious and dedicated study and practice? How could a mere free-lance writer or artist be any better than those who hold degrees in Divinity or Theology in established universities?
Well, if I remember right, the gospel was written in street Greek and proclaimed and practiced initially by unschooled people -- fishermen, tax collectors, housewives, peasants and soldiers. The original message itself came from a lowly carpenter. No, I am not avoiding the issue of qualifications! I am in good company, in fact, because the one who qualifies is God through His Spirit, not humans or human institutions. (2 Cor. 3:1-6)
Every person is called by God to hear His message. Anyone then who receives the message and the Spirit Whom Christ promised as His gift to any believer, has a ministry that originates from Heaven. The basis of the calling is not any human code or rule of conduct but the Scriptures inspired and written through the Holy Spirit. The written Word of God contains the Truth and is the Truth that each person needs in order to gain true knowledge of Christ and His Gospel. Nothing less, nothing more.
With that then, let us look at Lent by enumerating a few things that describe what it is and what it is not:
1. It is not a biblical feast or an event commemorated by the early first-century believers. This Quadragesima (Latin for “fortieth”, hence, Lent is the 40 days before Easter Sunday) originated as a pagan celebration of the return of spring (“lencten” in Anglo-Saxon) when the day began to lengthen and marked the end of winter. “Redeeming” this pagan practice, the early church leaders instituted the 40-day fast as a religious practice in preparation for Easter, basically what we have today. The name Easter itself derives from the ancient goddess Ashtaroth or Ishtar whom the pagans worshipped as the original "Queen of Heaven". (When we say "Happy Easter", is Christ happy that Ishtar is happy?)
Catholics and Protestants alike celebrate the Lenten season, as they do Christmas, either as a religious obligation or a social-cultural practice. Yet, in a strictly biblical sense, it has no basis in the teachings of Christ and the Apostles or in the practices of the first believers. It is a matter of religious choice, of course. Whether it is an essential spiritual exercise or obligation is a question we must answer individually in our conscience or before God, ultimately.
2. It is a virtual continuation and/or commemoration of the Jewish Passover Feast in its fundamental nature. Because majority of Christians today believe that Christ and the Apostles were celebrating the Passover Feast on the night the Lord was arrested, they have used the elements and the character of the Feast of Unleavened Bread as the basis for commemorating the Lord’s Supper in the Mass or in Communion services. However, before AD 800 or so, Christians in general, including Catholics, used leavened bread. Historically, the Eastern Orthodox Church has looked back to Pentecost Day in their celebration of the Communion by using leavened bread since the time of the Apostles. (My first book discusses in detail the origins, the meaning and the proper observance of the Lord’s Meal in the light of prophetic statements of Christ. It will soon be posted at this blog.)
Christ came to fulfill the Law of Moses which includes Passover. Having done so, He thus abolished the feasts. To continue doing things duly abolished makes a mockery of God's grace. In Christ, we are totally free from ritualistic obligations. (Paul did continue to participate in them to accommodate the "infant" Jewish and Gentile believers.) Yet, Christ Himself said that neither in Jerusalem, nor in Samaria, and, it follows, neither in Rome nor in Manila will the true worshipers still worship in temples, cathedrals or fancy buildings but rather in spirit and in truth. (John 4:23) Pray tell me where you can find spirit and truth at any time outside of the heart? Worship is a 24/7 LIVING SACRIFICE. (Romans 12:1)
3. The whole Lenten celebration is one big justification for the Catholic Mass. For many evangelical denominations, it is also a convenient way to accommodate themselves into the mood of the moment as their own form of Communion reflects that of the Catholics', having inherited it through an uncompleted reformation.
Official business and social activities grind to a halt as people meditate upon "the 7 last words", retrace the "way of the cross" and imagine the "wounds " and the "pierced side of Jesus". In this momentary retreat to religiosity or moral goodness under a palpable pall of death, many people do find enlightenment and even transformation. But is it one motivated by real repentance and faith in the whole salvation plan of God or merely out of self-pity and fear?
Telling the gospel story is one thing; but replaying and highlighting the crucifixion scene is a morbid and cross-eyed way of sidelining the significance of the resurrection and the effective reign of Christ in our lives. "It is finished" can both mean that Christ completed His part in the righteous demands of God for the payment of human sins and that humans had finally reached the limits of depravity, not by crucifying Him but by failing to fulfill His thirst to see righteousness even in our small deeds. When God asks for water and humans give Him vinegar and gall, we see how humans have utterly abandoned righteousness. As humans, we are totally screwed! For that, Jesus died.
Modern priests, like their ancient counterparts, demand compliance to prescribed forms and not genuine spirituality. It was Christ's defiance to such compliance to religious rigidity that made Him an enemy to the religious leaders. Remember: It was the Pharisees and the doctors of the law who had Jesus crucified and, today, their descendants continue to nail Him and bleed Him dry -- graphically, virtually, substantially, legally, religiously and morally. What the Father and the Son considered an abominable and despicable human act against Heaven, they effectively use as a big prop for a popular religion. The cross of Christ is now a tool used to maintain the guilt of sinners and their dependence upon a form of religion and not upon God. This they do in order to stake their claim to the throne of Christ as supposed guardians of human souls. Because of and against such usurpation, Jesus went to the cross. Ironically, He still hangs there bleeding and thirsting for us to look up to Heaven and see His throne.
4. In terms of the elements used in the Mass or Communion, the bread and the wine do not become the real body and blood of Christ. Transubstantiation has its beginnings in the teachings of de Lavardin in the 11th century although the basic concept came as early as the first century. The Reformation leaders criticized it as "false philosophy", which is what it really is with a lot of ancient mystical dressing. It is obvious in Acts that the Communion (“agape” or love-feast, as it was called eventually) was a common meal shared by believers and, therefore, involved plain, ordinary food including, of course, leavened bread and wine.
Where else can you find a festive meal that does not even satisfy hunger? God feeds and satisfies His people; humans today withhold the graces of Heaven ("You prevent people from entering the Kingdom!"). In this natural, simple, filling celebration of Christian fellowship, the Body of Christ becomes one in acknowledging the finished and perfected work of her Savior. Any remembrance or re-offering of His sacrifice through an empty rite is superfluous. Which brings us to a most crucial final point.
5. The so-called Eucharist, Lord's Supper or Communion is not a remembrance. It is a proclamation and celebration of eternal realities we experience as children of God. When Christ proclaimed the bread as His body, He referred to His real body which He would offer on the cross. He used the bread as our symbol to proclaim His finished work, not merely His death but more so His resurrection and His eternal reign as King of Kings. Thus, stating that we should "do this" (that is, eat) to "recall Him" (that is, to put in the mind, from the Greek "anamnesis", meaning "to think of") and not to "remember His death and suffering". (Luke 22:19) He was still alive, mind you, when He said these words and only meant for us to think of Him as He is and where He is -- alive and reigning with the Father in Heaven. Only eyewitnesses can remember; we are called upon to set our mind on Jesus. (2 Tim. 2:8, Col. 3:2)
This interpretation holds true because He said in Luke 22:15-16 that He "will not eat of it until it is fulfilled in the Kingdom." What could that mean? Three things: (a) He will eat it again WITH US! (b) He will fulfill or complete it. (c) He will complete it FOR US in the Kingdom.
Will we wait to eat with Christ till we all die? Or is He not reigning over His Kingdom now and eats or communes with us, that is, unites with us: we as His body, He the Head. (Eph. 5:29-30) No, not in a physical, transubstantiational way but in an essential, spiritual way through the Holy Spirit Who dwells in our hearts, the gift He promised to be our Advocate. Christ fulfilled or completed the Passover bread on Pentecost Day, a day when Jews offered leavened bread ("bread of the firstfruits") at the temple. (Lev. 23:17) From abnormal bread to normal bread! This fulfilled prophecy of Christ finishes the multi-millennial work of God in the history of the Israelite nation and prepared the entrance of Gentiles into the fold of God. Why use hard bread then when God obviously meant for us to use ordinary fluffy bread? How can we be so blind?
As a final proof, Christ promised not to drink the wine until He "drinks it new with (us) in My Father's kingdom" (Matt. 26:29). The Greek word for new, "kainon", means "of new nature or character". Today, people celebrate the Supper as if it were an exact mental replica of Christ's suffering and death. They still see the bread and the wine as flesh and blood. No, the "new nature" they take on are much more in keeping with the grace of God and not the corrupted ideas of humans. The bread symbolizes His one and undivided Body of believers, His Kingdom on Earth which He established on Pentecost Day, not His human flesh -- not anymore. Where is freedom in such anachronistic ideas? The wine, therefore, represents the Holy Spirit Who gives life to the Body, not human blood. No more! Where is grace and salvation in dwelling on elementary doctrines that do not exist or apply? Sin and death have been conquered; why dwell on them in mental imagery, in art form and in life style?
This patent "overdramatization of evil" has indeed kept many minds focused on the negative and non-essential matters -- that is, rehearsing the finished suffering of Jesus through rituals. Not much different from the ancient times when people diligently offered sacrifices but miserably neglected righteousness before God and mercy toward others.
The command then is this: "Think of Christ", Lord and Savior -- alive and reigning. We cannot do that when we keep thinking of His death and His suffering day in and day out, week in and week out. Satan must be laughing because instead of living free of the fear of death, we keep thinking of it and even use the living Lord to do so. For me, this is the worst irony of all. It is a spiritual bondage invented by false teachers and carried on in opposition to the glorious, life-giving principles of Jesus. Oh, how we have missed the simple, essential message of Christ! He did not come to die; He came to give us the joy of life from the Father.
And so, Christians today remain divided and confused over the gospel of Jesus. Many fail to see His fundamental teaching about joyful, abundant and victorious life. All because we follow the pagan traditions instead of the life-giving and liberating principles of God clearly revealed and taught by the first Christians.
Meditate upon what Jesus did and taught. Realize how easy and light His burden is. The somber, unsmiling nature of Holy Week says it all; not even Easter, that pagan festival posing as a symbol of resurrection cannot overcome the entrenched presence and unforgiving grip of death within human minds. And so, after Holy Week, many people conveniently go back to their unrepentant and degenerate ways.
I know; I used to be one and know a lot of people who remain as such and even as enemies of Christ even though they call Him Lord. People who still fear death are not perfected in love. For until we learn to remove the ancient strongholds that captivate our minds and our lives, we will continue to lead defeated lives, beholden to ancient lies from the Garden where our first parents fell.
Only Jesus Christ can set us completely free. Learn from His unveiled, unadulterated Word today.
(Painting above: Van Gogh's "La Resurrection de Lazare", 1889-1890)
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
(This is an excerpt from my upcoming book entitled: Preparing a Body for Eternity: From Adam to Christ to All Believers)
Yes, the question needs to be asked. We merely assumed Adam fell in love with Eve and, it seems, even before he met her. That is, if we define love as that feeling of longing for a person you have not met but intuitively believe will fill up your loneliness. Or that feeling one has for a certain person you know whom you eagerly long to fill up your loneliness. It seems then that loneliness is simply that feeling of emptiness or longing (a vacuum seeks to be filled) that is so natural in humans that God alone knew or recognized that the answer for it is His Love dressed in human form -- woman.1
Loneliness then is a preparation for love. Being alone is the first step toward union. One plus one makes one, it creates marriage. When one plus one makes another one, it creates a family. It is God's way of multiplying love, not merely bodies.
Love, in the case of Adam, was a primordial emotion brought about by the eternal nature of his very being. Consider being in Paradise with everything good you could ever have. You would not miss feeling and knowing the love of God. What was God's program for a single man who had everything except a partner? Was love and companionship an afterthought? Most certainly not.
Or think of your life as a growing person with enough knowledge and experience to become a married man or a married woman. Why is love (marital bliss or harmony) so elusive nowadays that it has to compete with so much fear?
Are we any different from what Adam was when he felt lonely? Love could not have been an optional thing for him and, more so, for many of us. The struggles of marriage may have been planted early on in the emotional process that our first parents went through. How is this?
Consider Eve when she found Adam on the first day she lived. Knowing neither loneliness nor love as any mature person would, she must have been fresh as a baby who needed more pampering than romancing. To say that they had love at first sight, on second thought, might be presumptuous. For it may have taken them a while to figure out who the other person was and how each one reacted to the other. Who else was there to teach them the basics of conversation, let alone love? Except God.
This was no Hollywood scene where sparks flew and naked bodies collided in rapturous bliss. This was, well, the end of Creation and the beginning of life and love for the whole Universe, gifts that we find hard to see and fathom even through the eyes and hearts of the first humans who received those gifts.
Uniting them in marriage must have been God's way of defining and introducing love to Adam and Eve. In their case, union came before mutual love. You are one body. This is YOU (pointing to Eve), love your body, Adam. This is YOU (pointing to Adam), love your body, Eve. Marriage is the mirror of God-designed love.2
In defining the two as one in marriage, God was already defining love in all its dimensions. More than the emotional thing that we take it to be, love, as God wanted it from the very beginning, was a recognition of everything that was put into making it possible. That is, without the whole Creation, without the entire goodness in divine handiwork, without the palpable joy and beauty of perfect reality coming from God, marriage and love would all be meaningless. And so, that is the way it is today for people who reject the divine origin of marriage and love and behave as if lust and sinfulness can take the place of loneliness.
Love, then, as an adjunct of marriage is not an evolved human function or trait akin to animal instincts that produce social harmony even among these lower creatures. Monkeys who care for one another by picking lice off their bodies do portray a form of love humans can appreciate and even emulate. On the other hand, we find it hard to accept that a nursing cat would kill its own newborn kittens out of carelessness or anger. Is such cruelty an animal or human fault we learn to abhor while we do other despicable things that run contrary to the call of love as God defined it?
The goodness that God saw in Creation certainly included human love and divine worship, two of the highest characteristics that we have been endowed with together with the privilege of having life. When the Son of God would arrive and call upon fallen humans to keep in mind just two important laws, what do you think they would be?
Right: Love God and love your neighbor. Adam and Eve were the only neighbors in Paradise and they filled the whole place with love. Is this a fanciful dream or a veritable myth? If so, what do we have today: a terrible nightmare or a mirage of social disorder?
The Inventor of love showed liberality in granting humans what they deserved and what they wanted. Love was not forced into their system as if God was so eager to give what humans wanted even before they felt the need. This was likewise the beginnings of prayer. Love and all good things come from God; yet God teaches us prayer (longing, in Adam's case) so He can come to our aid in time of real need.
Nothing is more hard for God than humans not recognizing His love and His power and, therefore, failing to ask Him.
We cannot fault Adam for not knowing how to pray or what to pray for. He was a Johnny-come-firstly and he had so much to learn. For him, love came supernaturally. Can we say the same thing for the second Adam? We will find out as we proceed.
1Eve can be also seen as a figure of Christ Who, as God, became a human in order to teach humans to love. Eve, in that sense, taught Adam the essence of love -- and the reverse case also applies.
2Eph. 5:28: So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.
(Photo above: Unforbidden fruits of Love abound around us. Plant and harvest now.)
Sunday, January 08, 2012
(This is a short excerpt from a chapter in my forthcoming book entitled Preparing a Body for Eternity.)
The respected cosmologist, Dr. Stephen Hawking, recently stated that God does not exist. He shares the view of others who say that faith and logic do not belong together. We take this to mean that resurrection, the foundation of Christian belief, is not a viable process in life.
Let us define logic. Ironically, the word “logic” comes from the Greek word "logos" which means “word”. In fact, Christ is often called the Logos. Logic, then, would mean reason or truth, the very essence of human understanding or wisdom. The Greeks sought this wisdom and built statues to this indefinable idea as if it were an "unknown god". Yet, many of them did find it in the person of Christ: the Wisdom Incarnate, the Logos in the Flesh. Strike one, Mr. Atheist! Faith and logic belong as similar concepts, if not one and the same literal idea.
If, however, logic is limited to scientific investigation and reasoning using material objects or processes to reach an observable truth, then faith would certainly find itself in a corner. But let us consider the water-to-wine "experiment" of Jesus. Has anyone ever done that using science? Obviously, no one has. Why? Because it is impossible for humans and human logic. But since Christ is God, nothing is impossible for Him. In divine perspective, faith and logic belong together. Strike two!
Finally, what establishes logic to be acceptable? Is it not human senses and verified evidences of eyewitnesses? Or do scientists claim to have the only functioning eyes and minds? The followers of Jesus were just as meticulous observers as scientists are. They used pen and ink like many of us do today (cursor and pixels, for many now). They were equally smart and honest researchers as many of us today. And they were recipients of good news which they had long awaited, unlike most of us today, unfortunately. That is, they had prepared minds as well, as most scientists claim to have.
Scientists must project from what is available to them in the present into the future. Logic requires it. They may or may not succeed. Prophets, on the other hand, projected into the future the mind of God and those tasked with unraveling those prophesies declared or explained them. The logic of God, Who by the way invented logic for humans to use, requires it. But all prophecies come true without exception. The record, better and clearer than any research journal, shows it. Theories are mere hypothetical concepts which totter unsteadily upon incomplete human logic.
You just struck out, Mr. Atheist! If you limit yourself to human logic, you will certainly miss seeing eternity.
(Painting above taken from www.spiritlessons.com.)