And the greatest of these…

There has been a lot that is being said by Christian people against homosexuals. It actually hurts me to hear things like these. Being a Christian myself, I know that some lifestyles are not accepted, in the sense that I wouldn’t follow them.

But every time I get frustrated or angry at someone for doing something I think is wrong, I have learned to make a conscious effort to remind myself of what Jesus said. “Let any one of you who is without sin, be the first to throw a stone at her.” That puts me in my place and I am humbled, because I know that no matter how hard I try, I will never be able to live a life completely without sin. It is not my sinlessness that guarantees an audience with God, but His mercy despite my sinfulness. It is not my righteousness that makes me a Christian, but the faith that our God is the one true God.

Granted, that there are rights and wrongs and these make us different from the rest of the world. But I think, what this sense of right and wrong is there for is to point me in the right direction and keep me on the right track. Sometimes I get carried away and think people are wrong because they don’t follow the same things I do. Even if I am right, I am wrong to assume I have the authority to judge them in any way. What the Lord has taught me to do lately is to pray for these people and guide them through love and patience. And this is really difficult for me. I mean, if you’ve ever met me in person you’d know that I am probably one of the most impatient people on the planet. Given a free reign, I would walk out of conversations just because people are taking too long to get to the point. But the Lord is working in me. Making me love them enough to wait for them to get where they need to be. It is taking a while, this change in me, because like I said, “most impatient person on the planet”. Loving people doesn’t come naturally to me, either. I have spent most of my life being heartbroken by everyone around me and developed some very serious trust issues. But the Lord is working on that too. He is softening the places in my heart that I’d hardened for fear of getting hurt. He is making me see people differently from being cautious.

So when I say I have no authority to judge people for the way they live, I mean it. 1 Corinthians devotes an entire chapter to love. The first few lines of the chapter literally say that no matter how many good deeds you do and how religious you are, if you don’t do them with love, it has no value. In other words, they’re pointless. If I am to make a difference, I can only do it with love. I mean, would you listen to someone who is constantly judging you and yelling at you to change? I wouldn’t. I’d go right on and do the opposite of what they’re telling me to do. Then comes a very important scripture that I probably need to have framed above my bed to remind me every day. “Love does not demand its own way.” “[Love] endures through every circumstance.” So basically, love doesn’t force its will on people and loves them even though they don’t listen to you.

You’re probably thinking, that never works; that I am an idealistic, pretentious know-it-all who thinks she lives in a utopian world where everything has a simple solution. I have proof, ladies and gentlemen. Allow me to point you in the direction of the man who singlehandedly changed millions of lives through love. JESUS. He lived and breathed love. He welcomed every one and turned away no one, even though He knew what was in their hearts. I repeat, EVEN THOUGH HE KNEW WHAT WAS IN THEIR HEARTS! That has got to be some love! The love that those verses talk about, He was living it. And look at what His love did. Brought salvation to millions of people. There are at least a million Christian people around the world. If all of us choose to love like He did, imagine how many people would find Jesus and thus their salvation. I mean, we’ve tried everything else. Let’s try love.

Project Psalms: Psalm 13

I love Psalms! I love how they go from “O Lord where are you? Why aren’t you delivering me from my enemies?” “Don’t let me fall and die” to “But you know what, I trust you Lord. I know you’re doing something to get me out of it. Just do it fast, okay?”

It feels so real. Like our daily conversations with God. Whenever I face something, my prayers are panicky and desperate. After a while when the situation hasn’t changed but the Lord has shown me that He is with me, my prayers change to, “I may not understand Your ways, but I trust in You.” Have you ever felt like that?

After I’ve prayed that prayer, then very slowly things start to make sense. The delays have an explanation. The obstacles have a purpose. The hindrances have an end goal. It is as though the Lord was waiting for me to trust in Him to make things clear to me. I mean, of course I will never get the whole picture. But pieces of it. Trust. That is all He asks. A trust that blindly allows Him to lead, guide and direct. Even when circumstances dictate failure, a trust that knows that there is an end to this suffering. A trust that is, what’s the word for it? FAITH. That’s the word.

Everything you’re going through will require one thing from you. Faith. Faith that He holds the whole world in His hands. Faith that He can turn things for your good. Faith that He is in control, no matter what you’re going through. It may not seem like He’s doing anything, but trust Him, He is. Nothing is impossible for God (It is impossible for Him to be doing nothing. Get it?). He is working on a way out. He is making things clear. He has a plan. Just trust in Him who created you. It won’t exactly be smooth sailing, but at least you know He is with you through it all.

Project Psalms: Psalm 12

Have you ever faced something where you thought the whole world is against you? Well, I have. A few times in my life. Not in a paranoid way. Just in a way that no one around me was on my side, even though I was actually the victim.

So a few years ago, a colleague friend of mine and I broke up due to whatever disagreements led us to that point. But she was still my colleague so we did interact professionally. In my head, I thought we were handling it really well. Until I began to notice everyone around me. Apparently, she’d gone around and told the entire office fabricated stories about me. Every time one of them told me what she’d telling them, my heart broke. I remember going home and weeping in the shower. “But she was my friend!” I’d argue with myself. Then the saner side of me would just scoff and show evidence of her being very non-friend-like. It was a really difficult time for me considering that I had worked very hard to get to that place at work and now people were doubting my capabilities and believing lies about me. Every time I burned with anger and wanted to retaliate, the Lord just told me to “Be still”. I didn’t understand it. But I did reluctantly obey at that point. (Also I am a huge wuss and hate screaming matches) A few months from those awful two months, (without me doing anything) she messed up big time which had my seniors check her work thoroughly and found more things she had messed up in. Needless to say, … Actually wait, I DO need to say. My boss and seniors and all my co-workers changed their behavior toward me. My coordinator even came up to me and lauded me for my professionalism even when everyone in the office wasn’t being exactly that with me. This may seem small when I say it now, but it was a huge victory in my opinion and I just cannot thank God enough for it.

The Lord knew what was coming. Maybe if I had reacted then, I would have made things worse for myself. Maybe they’d still have not changed their opinion about me even after they’d changed their opinion about her. Either way, I am eternally grateful to the Lord for intervening every time I wanted to take matters into my own hands. The Lord certainly does mean it when he says “The vengeance is the Lord’s”. Now whenever I am in an unfair situation where I seem cornered with no way out, I remember this incident. I will never forget the time that God took matters into His hands so I wouldn’t have to take them in mine.

Love me like You do

No one could love me like You do. No one could and no one would. Your heart bleeds with love for me. Your eyes they search my very soul. Your hands they reach out to me. Especially when I don’t deserve it the most.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve apologized and You took me back. But they don’t outweigh the times I’ve forgotten to apologize altogether. You still love me like You do. I keep running away from You, and getting myself into trouble. And You keep welcoming me back, when I find my way back to You. I find innovative ways of hurting and disappointing You, and You in all Your majestic love cast Your pain aside and tend to my wounds. My actions provoke Your righteous anger, but all You do is heal my broken heart.

How, do You do that? Love me like You do? No one could do that, no matter how much they may think they do. Every time You fix me up, I go and get myself broken again. And all You do is mend me with patience that I cannot comprehend. But that isn’t the only thing I can’t fathom. Why? Why do you love me like You do? And how can I ever repay You for all You’ve done for me?

Project Psalms: Psalm 8

Do you ever think how minuscule you are? Like, in comparison to God’s greatness and majesty. I was reading this Psalm and introspecting and realized that I spend very little time thinking of how great He is, and so much time thinking how involved He is in my life. Reading passages of scripture like this leave me dumbfounded at the fact that I ask the God of all creation to make my bus come on time. Like, seriously. And that’s not even the craziest part! The craziest part is that He answers!

It is the world’s biggest paradox that the Creator and Ruler of all creation (think: magnitude, zoom out into the Milky Way and other galaxies) cares about me getting late to work (think: broken alarm, zoom in to my room at 7:05, where I wake up without an alarm because He woke me up).

The Psalmist so wonderfully put this question out there for us to realize the magnitude of this paradox: Who are we that you would think of us? Mere humans that you would care for us?

Just a reminder, in case you think He is God who sits at His throne judging you: HE CARES! He thinks about you! He feels your pain. His heart aches for you when you get hurt. His eyes are on you.

How is that possible? There are so many millions of people in the world, how can he care and think about every single one of us? Well, He is GOD. Bigger than our perception, bigger than we can imagine. So if it is possible for anyone to watch every single person on this planet, it is Him.

He is always there, by your side. Watching, caring for and loving you. And you know, what’s best about it? He is also GOD! So imagine being cared for and loved by an omniscient God! Wouldn’t you do anything to be on His side too?

Being nice versus being loving

A friend once told me he was being nice to me and that he didn’t really like me, despite evidence proving the latter. To this day, this is sort of an “agree to disagree” idea with us. Kind of like Ross and Rachel disagreeing about being on a break. I could give an 18 page speech (front and back) arguing my case and he would sleep through it. I digress. The reason I found it so offensive that someone I called a friend was “being nice” to me was because I have always associated it with being fake.

When I was growing up, being an only child, I would be drawn to spend time alone. And when we had guests, mum would tell me to be nice to them. And I would. I wouldn’t want to, but I would. I would smile and play with their kids. I would serve them tea and biscuits. I would be the perfect host. I didn’t want to, but I did. I probably wanted to throw biscuits at them, but I didn’t. I was being nice. Being someone on the outside that I really didn’t want to be on the inside.

There is nothing wrong with being a nice person. Someone can tell me I’m a nice person, and I would feel warm and fuzzy inside. But someone telling me to be nice to someone and I feel the fake smile come on as if on cue. Maybe God saw this coming and told us to “love” instead.

The reason I bring these two wildly similar yet opposite notions into comparison is because I feel a lot of us being nice rather than being loving in church. And by us, I mean me, mostly. I’m a socially awkward adult who is also an introvert. Everything I’ve learned about socializing has taken me twice the effort it takes a normal person to learn. And quadruple the time it takes for them to learn it. I’d learned early on that I can get away from the stares I get for being an introvert or socially awkward, if I can just fake my way through it. So I smiled. I asked how they’re doing. Although, to be honest, I’m pretty much stumped after that. Where does the conversation go after that?

Over time, as I grew spiritually, I’ve learned that for me to really be nice, I need to love them first. I couldn’t smile and welcome them if I didn’t at least like them first. But how do you love people you meet once a week and know little about? As yourself, Jesus says. That’s tricky. I love myself more than anyone else on this planet. In fact, I live in my own little universe and everything and everybody else revolves around me and my needs. I can’t have 50 other little universes, can I? It sounds ridiculous. And sounds like it would take an awful lot of juggling between universes.

There, in the thoughts of overwhelming amounts of universes, I found the true meaning of what God was trying to say to me. It may seem obvious to some of you, but like I said, I take quadruple the time it takes for a normal person to learn. Consider this:

You meet someone really wonderful and fall in love. You notice and quickly overlook each other’s flaws. You consult each other about when to meet up. You’re distracted by thoughts about them. You find yourself thinking about them every time you happen to notice something beautiful, like a scenic spot, a good book or a great movie. You wonder if they’d like it too. You can’t wait to meet and spend time together, even though you’ve been texting each other all day. You grow to love their family and get along with their friends. You feel them becoming a huge part of your life.

Now, consider that “someone” being Jesus. Everything in your life now revolves around him. Everything he loves, you’ve learned to love. Everything he does, you do. Everyone he loves, you learn to love.

It gets easier to love people when you’ve started to love the person who created them. Christianity isn’t a religion. It is love relationship between the Creator and the created. As long as it is a love story, we can see ourselves being loving to everyone. If it is a religion to you, you will find it taxing to love and will resort to being nice instead.

I spent most of my life thinking of Christianity as a religion and thus ended up having to fake niceness to people. I would try to hide my flaws from people so they wouldn’t judge me. I would hide my hurt and pain and take a deep breath to fix my smile. Once I discovered the relationship aspect and found myself being an enormous part of a love story, I started to see God as someone who loves rather than someone who dominates. I started to see myself as loved rather than an awkward piece of worthless creation. This opened my eyes to see others as deserving of love. Once I realized that despite being incredibly flawed, I am unconditionally loved, I began to understand what loving others as myself meant. If despite my flaws, I can be loved, so can everyone else. After all, isn’t LOVE the basic principle of Christianity?