This isn’t my post on government and NGOs. I’m still working on that and doing my best to craft it in such a way that it encourages all of us to get involved, and that it doesn’t take away from groups that DO truly good work. I am concerned that too many of us think we’re doing the best work and that’s why I’m including a portion on metrics. I hope to finish by tomorrow.
I’m sneaking this one in because I get a lot of questions about Christianity and I try to answer as much as I can despite my limited knowledge and limited understanding. If there’s someone you want to get in-depth wise answers from it’s my brother Joseph. He’s just a really intelligent and wise person, especially when it comes to things of the Bible.
This particular post was triggered by a question my friend asked me, “In the Christian world there are people who speak in tongues right? And there are also those who don’t. I’ve heard people who speak in tongues tell me that those who don’t are not spiritual and those who don’t speak say that those who do are weird or cooky. Who is right?”
It’s a good question. But what bothered me about this question were the examples my friend gave me, examples I’ve heard from many others before, is the condescending that takes places between the two groups. So I’m taking the time to give my opinion on two of them:
(1) “You shouldn’t marry him/her because he doesn’t speak in tongues.”
Here’s my opinion on this: Marry him/her because you love them and trust them NOT because they can or cannot speak in tongues. So check what you’re attracted to (your values, what’s important to you, will naturally dictate this) and check what you believe, where your faith and trust lie (if your faith truly lies in God first you don’t need to be afraid). Now if you’re marrying someone because you love him or her for the wrong reasons or you have doubts about his or her trustworthiness, that’s a different thing. My simple advice is, you have a brain. Use it.
(2) “That person isn’t spiritual because he/she doesn’t speak in tongues.” or “That person is weird because he/she speaks in tongues.”
Here’s my opinion on this: What makes Christianity unique is that it is a relationship NOT merely a set of rules to follow. What that means is, what makes something right or wrong in Christianity, is more than just whether I abided by the generally accepted principles (that reminds me more of the GAAPS in accounting) but whether I please God. So the point of relationship is to love one another, not merely trade favors, or prove to the other that you’re an impressive partner, and especially not look at other couples and see how well they’re relationship matches yours.
Yet many times I find that we focus too much on “What do I have to do to get blessings and not get hurt?” and “How do I look to other Christians? Do they think I really love God?” and “Look at them. How can they say they love God and do that?”
Let’s say I was on a date (with secret plans to propose), and I could read the mind of my date (Which I usually can. Haha!), and what her mind showed me “What can I do to get David to let me live with him?” or “I wonder how the other people in this restaurant think I look? Is my dress ok? Do I look like a hot date? Are my manners good?” or “Look at that couple over there. I wonder how they got in here? These people are so noisy. These waiters are so slow.” Do you know what I would tell her?
I would say, “Look. I didn’t invite you on a date to so you can strategize how to get me interested. I already am. That’s why I invited you. That’s why I call you every day early in the morning. That’s why I write you all those long letters. And if you’re too busy thinking about what everyone else thinks, about what everyone else is doing, about everything else that is happening around you, you’re going to miss what I’m telling you, and I’m asking you to marry me.”
Now if she’s really distracted she’ll miss even that. Here she is worrying about things that are actually sooo tiny compared to me wanting to pledge my life to her.I hope it’s not a big number, but I’m sure many times we miss God’s proposal, and His daily invitations to simply enjoy Him because we’re too distracted – distracted even with good things.
Our maturity has made us forget the bare essentials, thinking that because they are bare they’re no longer essential and forgetting that what is essential will always be the most important part no matter how simple it seems. Many times we major in the minor.
Paul himself answers this very clearly in 1 Corinthians 13.3 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
What he’s saying here is this, “You know all these spiritual capabilities, these gifts, these things you’re so impressed with, that you’ve made so important, they’re not as important as faith, hope, and love. In fact, they mean NOTHING when faith, hope and love are absent. Don’t be like a simple minded kid, who talks and thinks and reasons like a kid, always so easily impressed and overwhelmed with the little things. When all is said and done, after all the gimmicks, after all the debates, after all the revivals, the essentials are FAITH (do you believe in God and trust Him?), HOPE (are you looking at Him as your source of life, are you expectant of His presence), and LOVE (does your heart belong to God? Does your life reflect the heart of God, which is love for other people?).”
Many times I have majored in the criticism of others and minored in the loving of others. How can I say God is pleased? I can’t. So I need to change that.
That Fool In Love
I remember when my brother Joseph was courting Carla, who’s now his wife. He would pick her up and drive her to her place which was super far from us. I thought that was dumb. And she would ride his beat-up Tamaraw FX that looked uglier than a real Tamaraw. I also found that dumb. But when I was watching their wedding, and seeing how happy they were. All of a sudden they didn’t look dumb at all.
I remember a friend of mine who lets his wife pick his outfits for him when they go out, and gets him dressed-up in “new” ways. I remember telling him, “How’s my favorite male Barbie?” I really thought it was silly. But then he told me, “Hey, I figured, I don’t care about what I wear, but my wife does, and if it makes her happy to dress me up, then I’m happy.” All of a sudden, he wasn’t silly at all. In fact, it was so profound. I respected him even more after.
I remember my dad and mom, two incredibly opposite people, and how my dad can’t complain about my mom without ending up bragging and bragging and bragging about how she’s the most amazing woman in the world. It’s like I’m talking to a schizophrenic. One minute frustrated the next minute fulfilled. I always found that amusing, silly even, but now I think I understand better.
Love makes us fools, and if we’re a fool for someone wise and kind and benevolent, then we’ll be alright. It’s worth being a fool for someone like that. My brother and Carla didn’t care about what others thought about them, they cared more about each other, so they made it work. My friend didn’t care about my teasing, he cared more about his wife, so made it work. My dad and mom care more about each other too, and they make it work. The things they did didn’t make sense to me because I wasn’t the one in love.
Crazy acts of love never make sense to anyone but the ones in love. If someone genuinely wants to be a fool for the Maker of Heaven and Earth, who am I to say he or she is wrong?
Of course there is the possibility that the motives or the wisdom behind it is faulty but again, God is not asking me how well His relationship with him is going. He’s asking me, “David do you love me? Do you love him too? Or are you just bothered that he’s different? Are you just bothered that you think he can’t get things right?” I need to have that conversation with God first BEFORE I go around condemning others.
I was in Sydney, Australia a few weeks ago with my dad. While walking along Sydney Harbor with our friend Philip, my dad pointed to two people jogging and said, “See David? You can be doing that.” to which I answered, “Pop, I run all the time.”
Then he looked at me disbelievingly, “You missed it!” and he and Philip started to laugh. “You’ll get it one day.”That dinner, he recounted the story and explained it, “I wasn’t talking about running. I was talking about running with someone. I know you run. But running with someone is different. It’s better.”
Many times I find Christians are like me, majoring in the running and forgetting that our relationship with God, what makes it incredibly amazing, is not because we run fast or far, nor because we have good form, but because of Immanuel, God with us.