The Purity Pills

Image by rakratchada torsap via freedigitalphotos.net

Image by rakratchada torsap via freedigitalphotos.net

Halfway City used to be a great and awesome underground city. It was the most beautiful among the cities of refuge on this side of the world. It offered the best air technology that provided the cleanest air for free. It was also a very green dwelling place. Green because it was literally filled with plants and trees; and because it succeeded in using renewable energy and reusable resources. It was well-managed too. The government had great leaders and they took their mandate to take care of the citizens seriously. The people of Halfway City were probably the happiest in the blighted world of 2112. No one on earth was as happy as the people of Halfway City after the 2100 nuclear holocaust.

But that’s not true anymore.

Halfway City is now but a whisper of its former self. The predominant color is no longer lush greens but gray and brown. Its air-tech, that used to be the best, is now dilapidated and unmaintained. The smells of humanity are offensive. Airborne diseases have spread uncontrollably, TB being the most common. Old gas masks are now a common thing. The city is now a depressing, humid and suffocating place to live in.

This is where the brothers, Horencio and Mauricio, have lived for 30 years. Horencio was a sergeant in the police force and Mauricio was the city treasurer. They lived together in their house in floor 49. Just like all housing units, it was designed like a giant cement nodule sticking on the walls of the underground tunnel. There was a dimly-lit little porch outside their door just like everyone else. And from there, a ladder led to the main floor where the establishments were. They were looking down at random people as they had a few cold beers on their porch. This has become a tradition of theirs every Saturday night.

Mauricio, the older of the two, was reminiscing about the old days again.

“I miss the old days,” he said. “When one could smell clean, crisp air – not this fecal smell we smell every day. I remember it took a long time before we got used to this air – “

“6 months.”

“- 6 friggin’ months. Good god, was it that long?”

Horencio nodded.

“They said they’ve finally fixed it and the smells have gone away – “ Mauricio added. Horencio was shaking his head in protest. “But the truth is that they just threw away some muddy filters. And we all just got used to what’s left of the smells…”

Both men took a swig of their beers. Mauricio put a few nuts into his mouth before continuing.

“You know me. I don’t like to complain. But this government has failed us all. All you have to do to realize that is too look around and take a sniff of the air. If Mayor Gomez is as good as he says he is, where are the trees, shrubs and flowers that once grew on every floor? Where is the freely flowing clean water? Now we have to pay for clean water. And where are the beautiful lakes and falls we once had in the bottom floors 100 and 150?” Mauricio paused for another drink.
“Remind me again, why is Gomez and his idiotic friends in power?” he asked.

“Money.” Horencio said, being consistent with his quiet nature.

“No, no ,no. It’s the people’s fault. It’s not that Gomez had a lot of money. It’s because Halfway City wanted all the money it could get. It’s greed that got us here, brother. And it’s greed that will keep us here.”

There were a few moments of silence as Mauricio reached for two more bottles in their cooler. He opened both and gave one to Horencio.

“From being the best underground city, we’re now second from the bottom,” Mauricio said as he settled on his seat with beer in hand. “It’s times like this that I wonder why I’m still working for that prick. I mean I’m glad he didn’t sack us when he came into power. But it’s obvious now. In this little town, he can’t choose all the people he wants to have. We still have our jobs because Gomez and his people knows that were irreplaceable.”

Horencio grunted in approval.

“I understand why Jesse Magno had to leave. I mean, checking what’s going on in the surface is important, of course. But why hasn’t he sent us a letter all these years? A letter could’ve stopped the people from holding elections. If he’s still around, we wouldn’t be living in this poisoned air.”

“It’s been two decades. Maybe he’s dead.” Horencio said as he went inside.

“Well, if that’s true, this city has lost its only hope. That boy knew how to run things. It was as if he was made for this situation. He was an angel sent to us. I wish he didn’t have to leave.” Mauricio drank most of his beer this time.

Horencio came out with a bottle of Purity Pills. He shook two pills out and gave one to his brother.

“I’m done with that Ensyong.” Mauricio looked away as if the pills could hurt his eyes.

“You have to take it,” Horencio insisted, “they say it’s for the poisoned air. You want to get sick like the others? You don’t want to get out of here?”

“You and I know that that pill’s a fake,” Mauricio looked his brother in the eye, “That’s probably just a sugar-coated anti-depressant. All the antibiotics and vaccines were destroyed in the nuclear war.”

Horencio squatted to meet Mauricio at eye level, “Do you want to take the risk? What if they’re telling the truth? Maybe they’re research has paid off…”

“I highly doubt that…”

Horencio forced the pill on Marucio’s palm and said, “Your choice.”

Maurcio lingered in the porch as Horencio went inside to sleep. He stared at the pill for a while. Halfway City has been fooled into thinking that this little yelow pill could save them. The people consumed hundreds of the Purity Pill daily. The government claimed that when the time came for humans to resurface, only the purest would be allowed out. The huge steel gates will only open to the healthiest humans. And taking as many Purity Pills a day will guarantee one’s passage through the formidable gates in the future.

They’ve been consuming these for decades. Small as it may be, every citizen here is enslaved to this tiny pill. This was the only hope the city had for a better future.

Mauricio sighed and tossed the pill into his mouth and chased it with the rest of his beer. Desperation turns even the smartest man into prey.

He was woken by Horencio at dawn.

His brother was in full uniform and talking to his radio. The voices from the radio were stressed. Something was wrong. It took a while for Mauricio to realize that he fell asleep in the porch. He dreamt that he was a fighter losing to a formidable opponent. It was actually Horencio kicking his feet until he woke up. Seeing that the lights were still dimmed, he reclined again.

“What?” Mauricio groaned.

“Wake up.”

“Why?”

“You’re gonna want to come.” Horencio said.

Mauricio rolled onto his side and willed himself to sleep. It must not be 3am.

“Suit yourself. The gates are unlocking. I just thought you might want to come,” Horencio said as he climbed down the ladder.

Mauricio’s eyes snapped open. His sleepiness was suddenly gone.

“The gates?! You- you said they’re opening?!” He screamed excitedly as he hurriedly stood up and scrambled for the ladder. He grabbed his gas mask on his way down.

“Be quiet.” Horencio scolded him. “And be careful on your way down. All of the forces will be at the gates and if you fall down, help won’t come until things are cleared.”

Horencio kept walking as he heard the clanging of the metal ladder behind him. When Mauricio reached the bottom of the ladder, he scampered to his brother’s side. He then saw other police officers going the same way as they. Then he saw the level chairman with his officers. They didn’t even notice that Mauricio was there.

“I don’t think you’re cleared for this, so don’t do anything that would draw attention.”

Mauricio nodded.

Everyone boarded the huge elevators. There were 10 on this side of their floor and they fit on just 3. Someone pressed a button and they felt the lift respond with a nudge. They were on their way to level 2: the level where the city gates were.

Mauricio felt a tingling along his spine. His excitement was uncontrollable. And he saw that everyone felt the same too. Except for the gate keepers, no one has been near the gates for a long, long time.

The trip seemingly took a long time when it has only been a minute in the elevators. No one talked.

“This is taking forever,” someone finally said. Mauricio saw that it was their level chairman talking to his aides, “You might as well brief me now.”

“An hour ago the gates’ gears began moving. It hasn’t stopped since. It’s like it’s going through an unlocking phase…” a man Mauricio recognized as Major Manida reported.

“Who’s there now?” the chairman asked.

“Everyone is going up there, I would assume. Every floor was told.”

“When was the last time this happened?”

“The opening of the gates? The last time it opened was 20 years ago when Mayor Jesse Magno left against everyone’s wishes. He’s been missing since,” One of the chairman’s aides answered, “But it has never been opened from the outside.”

“What could it be?” the chairman pondered.

Mauricio too was clueless. The tunnels were interconnected by underground networks. But none of the networks reached to the surface. No one knew how the tunnels and its gates to the surface worked exactly. Did the gates automatically activate when the outside world cleared up? Everyone left on the surface died during the nuclear war. So could it be an alien machine opening the gates? Or has the other underground colonies found out that everything was clear and finally searched for us? Is it Magno finally returning? What took him 2 decades to return?

The elevator halted with a clang and they spilled out into a brightly lit room. The leaders quickly grouped together with Mayor Gomez. The police men and soldiers grouped together with their officers. Mauricio didn’t seem to belong anywhere at the moment and didn’t know where to put himself. He found himself grouped with the reporters after a while.

In front of them all were the enormous steel gates. It was big enough to fit a five-story building in it. Attached to the gates were gears and rods of varying sizes. And they kept on moving, making clanging and grating sounds as they move and snap into place from time to time. He heard a lot of chatter as they waited for the gate to open.

“This is the biggest story of the decade!”

“Could this be a political gimmick?”
“You know, if what comes through that gate is hostile, this is our last day on earth.”

That last comment turned Mauricio pale. It didn’t occur to him until now that he could be in potential danger. He involuntarily glanced at the elevators in his nervousness and started walking towards them.

Then there was a very loud metallic creak.

“The gates are finally opening! Gas masks on! Everyone suit up!” someone shouted.

Mauricio realized with dismay that he was among those who came without a radioactive suit. He searched for Horencio with a panic. He would know what to do. He hurriedly put his gas mask on and then resumed his search.

He finally saw his brother across from where he was. He was also looking at Mauricio. But he was not panicking like the others. He didn’t even bother to put on his mask. It bothered Mauricio that his brother even had a peaceful smile on his face.

He knows something, Mauricio thought.

The doors slammed against the concrete walls. In the middle of the entrance was a silhouette of a man. He was walking towards them casually. Mauricio didn’t expect their government’s response.

“Don’t come any closer! Stop in the name of the people of Halfway! I am Mayor Gomez. Identify yourself!” came the voice of the stout official through a megaphone.

The man just kept on approaching. The army pointed their guns at him at the mayor’s command.

“Stop or we will shoot!” The mayor had his hands up, threatening to give the signal to fire.

“Is this how you welcome back a son of Halway?” The man said.

This paralyzed everyone. They all wondered who it was. Why would he say that?

“It’s Jesse Magno! He’s back!” someone yelled.

A great chatter erupted in the pass. Then there was jubilation. Then came an applause as Jesse came near enough to see. Jesse’s appearance changed little if any at all. He seemed larger than before. The crowd pressed to the front. He shook the hands of the mayor and of the others nearby. Only the officials weren’t happy. Seeing that Jesse wasn’t wearing any gear, Mauricio took off his mask like the others. There was a breeze from the outside and everyone was elated to know that it smelled clean.

“Why have you returned Jesse?” Gomez asked. The jubilation died right away. Jesse’s eyebrows furrowed.

“I see. You’re not happy to see me,” Jesse looked around. “Perhaps, I have disturbed your happy existence here?”

“Make your business clear, and leave.” Gomez stated coldly.

Jesse shrugged and faced the crowd, turning his back on the mayor. The mayor was furious.

“Citizens of Halfway, I have returned as promised. When I left two decades ago, I thought it was the end of me. The air choked me. I thought it was the radiation, but I later realized that it was my lungs that were polluted. The air was pure, and my lungs were not accustomed to it. It took a while before my body accepted the pure air. However, the surface was desolate. For a long, long time, I saw no other human being. I was happy because the earth had been restored with its air, plants and waters. But I saw that there was a need to create a place for us. I was hoping to have a sustainable place for humans to live in, this time around.”

“And who are you to decide that for us? You should have told us right away. You have left us here to rot for decades,” Gomez interrupted. Jesse ignored him.

“I tested everything. I created a home and then a farm. After a while, I found more brave, wandering humans from other underground cities. I welcomed them to my home. It was such a blessing that our little group had the same hopes for humanity. Together, we agreed to create more habitats and test everything out in a larger scale. Now, we have families in these new habitats. We ate and drank what the earth gave us for 20 years. We found that it is now safe to live outside the surface once again. We and our children are well. Earth is no longer how it was. And we have created houses, mansions of many rooms for everyone. And today, we returned to the place where we came from to spread the news. And that is why I am here, today. It is time to surface!”

“Well, why didn’t you say so?” It was Gomez’s Chief of Staff. “You should’ve cut the blabber and told us. You’re too fond of delays.” He and Gomez’s group sneered.

“Everybody out, now!” Gomez ordered everyone.

“You can’t do that,” Jesse said.

“Watch us.”

Gomez and his army walked towards the exit. It didn’t take long before they broke into a jog. They were excited to see the surface.

Mauricio and the others stayed behind, waiting for Jesse’s permission despite their envy for those heading out. Jesse was simply smiling peacefully and calmly tapping his feet.

The shouts of joy by the men rushing out were abruptly silenced. Soon, they were jogging back into the pass. Mauricio saw that they were fleeing from something. Then the light from the outside darkened. An army of large humans in armor, shield and swords approached. Their size caused all to step backwards in fear. These giants look like they can tear people apart by hand.

The mayor panicked when they were about to be cornered. “Open fire!” he shrieked.

That was when Jesse calmly raised his hand. He was holding a device of some sort. He depressed a button on it and then all guns in the room erupted in fire and smoke. Those who had the weapons threw them down to avoid getting burned. Gomez looked small and frail now that he’s been disarmed.

“Now,” Jesse continued. ”As I was saying, it is time to surface – but in an orderly way. Earth was scorched in the past by an impatient, arrogant, incompetent civilization. As we begin again, we will cut-off wickedness and ignorance from the beginning.”

Jesse saw that everyone was still staring at the army of giants in front of them.

“Oh! I forgot,” Jesse said cooly, “these are the new children of the earth. They may be larger in size than you’re used to. But that is what the earth offers humans now. Because everything was miraculously reset, all the food and water and air is able to once again nurture us maximally. Thus, what you’re seeing here now. The effects are best seen on those born on the surface. Not only are they stronger, they are way smarter than us. We made sure that they got the education of the ancients. They built on that knowledge and surprised everyone with new sciences and technology – such as this Gunpowder Deactivator,” Jesse dangled the gadget in his hand. “This can cause any weapon, with primitive gun powder or the like, to set fire for a short period with little damage. It’s effective for 1000 kilometers. So don’t bother to call for reinforcements, mayor. All your weapons are useless now. And don’t attempt to reach those elevators either. These guys can beat you there in no time.”

The mayor went pale and didn’t know what to say.

“The only people allowed on the surface are the purest,” said Jesse.

At this, Mauricio’s hopes were extinguished. He hasn’t been very religious with his Purity Pills. The others, including the mayor and his goons, were elated.

He didn’t know what came over him, but Mauricio found himself asking, “What will become of us?”

“Sorry?” Jesse asked, looking for the person asking.

“Sir,” Mauricio stepped forward, “what will happen to men like me?”

“What’s wrong with you?” Jesse asked.

“Well…” Mauricio sighed, “I haven’t been taking my Purity Pills regularly. If you scan me, I’m sure, you’ll see that my blood is one of the most infected. I understand why you’re concerned about quarantining the sick. The earth must be filled with very healthy people like these kids now… But what would happen to me, sir?”

“Ah, the Purity Pills. That’s a hoax, really. It doesn’t really contain anything but sugar and anti-depressant.”

“That’s not true!” the mayor objected. “How would you know?!”

“Mr. Gomez,” Jesse looked at him calmly, “I know. I have spies within your ranks. I have eyes everywhere in the city.”

“Liar!”

Jesse sniggered. “All those working for me, please step forward and come to me.”

Everyone was astonished to see that Jesse indeed had many spies in this group. And Mauricio was even more stunned to see his brother to be among them. Horacio smiled at him from the front. He’s been playing Mauricio this whole time. But Mauricio didn’t feel anger, He felt a great sense of pride for his brother instead. He let out a short laugh and jokingly waved a fist at his brother. Horacio laughed as well.

“So… No one’s qualified to go up there?” someone asked.

“About the standards I mentioned a while ago, I wasn’t referring to physical purity. I was referring to character and attitude.” Jesse explained.

“But that’s absurd!” the mayor exclaimed. “You can’t screen us like job interviewees! How can you possibly know everything about us?!”

“You’re a bit slow for a mayor,” Jesse said. “In case you hadn’t noticed, I have reliable people who know everyone in this underground city. My spies know everyone from every walk of life and their tendencies. They were handpicked for the job.”

The mayor was wordless again.

“Your spiritual purity will be the basis to resurface. If you’ve been paying attention, you should know that the new children of the earth are smarter than we ever wished to be in the past. They have found the cure to every disease that ever plagued the earth. The hope of the people of Halfway City is here.”

“So let us all out!” the chief of staff yelled.

“We need to make sure that we don’t go back to what we were before. What we have now out there is very special. We might not have this chance for a better human race again. We have to make the right decisions, now.”

Jesse’s face turned serious. He was now like a powerful king about to give an order. “Now, let the rescue begin. We have created a database of the purest citizens in close coordination with our spies. Anyone found in this database will be waken and brought out now. Our soldiers will get in and get them out. Anyone not in the database will remain here.”

The soldiers moved towards the elevators. Everyone scuttled to get out of the way.

“You can’t do this! I am the mayor! You have no power here! We will resist you! This is war!” he protested with panic.

“You still don’t get it, do you?” Jesse said gravely. “We’re not here asking for your permission. We’re here to get our people out. After that, you can deal with whoever that’s left.”

Mauricio broke down in tears when his brother approached him.

“It’s time to go home, brother. Today is the day,” Horencio said.

“I guess we won’t need those pills after all, huh?” Mauricio asked as they approached the sunlight, arms intertwined.

“You were right. They were no cure at all.”

A blast of warm, fresh breeze hit them. Their lungs resisted, at first, the new atmosphere. But it quickly welcomed what it knows is pure air. The brothers gasped when they saw the world outside.

They were, at last, seeing the new earth.

10 Reasons Why The World Dislikes The Christians

christian-fish-ichthys-crayon-drawing

Christianity, according to polls, is the largest religion in the world. But this survey is too simplistic. There is so much more to the faith than just a simple declaration of beliefs, than just going to church on Sundays, donating to the church, than this short period of piety for most during the holy week…

There is more to being a Christian than that.

Proof of this is how professing “Christians” roll their eyes when their fellow believers share their faith. They challenge and discourage those who preach the Bible while writing in their bio-data that they are of the faith.

Also, there are many who are only “partially Christian” – they take the principles they like in the Bible and then throw away the rest. They say they believe that Jesus is God, but they hang on to their 2nd and 3rd wives.

Then there are those who are just naturally superstitious and just happen to be born in a Christian background. While I was recently watching the fight between Pacquiao and Bradley in a restaurant, one “Christian” remarked before the results were announced: “Manny, you better make the sign of the cross or you will lose again…”

These are the fillers to the said number of Christians in the world. They’re the fence-sitters who like to see what’s going in the church but would rather not be involved. They’re those who don’t bother with the deepest things of God and are more concerned with their image. I’m not referring to these Christians.

The Christians referred to in this article are those who believe in the Bible as the only source of knowledge for faith. Those who live out what they regularly meditate on in Scripture. Those who deeply believe that there is only one God: the God of Israel who sent His only Son, Jesus, to be the final sacrifice for sins. Those who believe that Jesus lives to this day and will soon return to keep His promise of a new heaven and earth. Those who use all God’s gifts to bring back glory to Him and to share the gospel.

These are the Christians of old led by the same Holy Spirit. They’re the real deal.

So why does the general population, including the Church’s own members, dislike them? If you’re one of those who have always been wondering why you feel that way, below are 10 possible reasons.

1. Christians are excited about the thought of the end of the world.

While most of the world are ecstatic about a better world that is coming through science, technology and man – the believer looks forward to the day that it will crumble and die. Christians believe in this because Jesus did prophesy about it. They don’t wish for everyone and everything to be destroyed, actually. They just long to see a world without poverty, sickness, evil and death just like everyone else.

Needless to say, there are those who who primarily preach this not out of love and joy, but out of frustration because of their failures in this world.

2. Christianity calls for a holy life.

There’s just no escape from this. The Bible is clear, the struggle against the evil within will always be on the shoulder of the believer. It’s a struggle because its going against the tough grain of the human heart that just loves the flesh and the world. But Jesus paid for the price once and for all, there is no need for condemnation. Christians are free to be good and holy. Nothing separates them from the love and presence of God no matter what happens. Its like a huge free buffet with an endless supply of forgiveness, love and the power of God. And He Himself paid for the bill.

3. Christianity requires a lot of work.

The misconception is that once one becomes a Christian, there is no longer anything else to be done. The result is backsliding (going back to the old life). The call of the faith is a call to God’s work. The believer will be encouraged to be mobilized in church, to serve. He will be guided to meditate on the Bible regularly, to pray unceasingly, to share the gospel to friends and family, to preach, to teach, to feed the poor, to give… The list is endless. No this faith is not a dead end. Its a new way of life. The God Christian’s serve will not make you idle and lazy. He will turn you into someone you never thought you could be.

4. Christianity will demand your time.

Whether its attending a small group, a prayer meeting or teaching – the Church will not only ask for you to walk down the aisle or to just raise a hand and shed a few tears. The Church will ask you to replace all the useless things in your schedule with what pleases God.

5. The Church will ask you to part with your money without apology.

Jesus was clear in Scripture: you cannot love both God and money. He taught in plain language to give to the poor, the widows, the orphans and the harassed. He knows the dangers of being attached to the things in this world. He intends to replace that with Himself – the source of life. Does this mean that we ought to live like cavemen? No. Jesus simply teaches that you should be the master of your money, not the other way around.

Sadly, this is also Jesus’ teaching that most wolves in sheep’s clothing love to use.

There are many false teachers out there that look legit but are really just after your money. They would ask for it in exchange for wealth, promotion, health and power. They appear like the real thing as they preach, but a close examination of the Bible always reveals what they really are.

6. The Church will ask you to put God first.

Jesus teaches even to this day to love God above all else, and then others second. He also teaches that if you had to choose between God and friends, family, job, wealth, even health – you gotta choose God. He may appear cruel as He asks this from us, but it really is a test of faith that all Christians go through. Think about it, if we really believe that God is all powerful, good and wise – then why could we not believe that He will take care of all other matters when we put Him first?

7. Christianity makes its followers appear weak and lame.

Jesus’ teachings on radical love and forgiveness, even towards enemies, is an offense to most who prefer instant justice. For the shallow others, brotherly love hints of secret homosexuality. The shameful cases of sexual abuse in the Church today committed by its leaders are only confirming these concerns… But loving unconditionally, loving the unlovable and loving even one’s enemies are also acts of faith that Jesus taught. Apparently, the kind of love that God revealed is much more bigger than what man is capable of doing. And how about justice when we’re wronged? Again, the answer is faith. Why take matters in your own hands when you have an all-powerful God who is always present and knows the perfect timing for everything? This is one of the most difficult struggles of being a Christian.

8. Christians teach God-confidence, never self-confidence.

This, I think, is the area where believers today are encountering the most resistance and persecution. The world today advocates relativism and self-sufficiency. Everyone is free to choose what they want to follow because everyone is now the god of their lives. Each person is taught to depend on themselves for everything, even things about God, which explains everything that is morally wrong in the world today. And where does that leave God? Outside of everyone’s life. No one today will readily accept that God is the source of every good and right thing.

Unfortunately, this idea has infiltrated the Church too.

Most Christian believe that they can force God to give them something as long as they believe in their mental capacity to think positive. This reduces God into a mindless genie (for more on that, click here.) The Bible is quite clear though, all its heroes depended solely on God and not on positive thinking or self-confidence. When they asked God for something, they asked like the servants that they were. Not like CEOs calling on the logistics department.

9. Christians breed fanatics.

The believers have no one to blame here but themselves. God is all about balance and fairness in Scriptures.

He only lifted this balance and fairness when the time came for Jesus to die on the cross. In that case, things became unfair – for God.

But everything else about God’s teachings encourages balance.

For example, Jesus teaches that no one who puts family first before Him is worthy of Him. Does this mean that we should abandon our kids for Him? Of course not. Because He also showed multiple times that He loves kids (and they loved him) and even His own mother. He even warned everyone who would make little children stumble in their innocence (he was also referring here to the believers with child-like faith). The ancient church also emphasized love for family. So, putting these together, this means that in our struggle to provide for our families, we should always remember that God and His work is more important than the things of this world.

But the fanatics, they get one or two teachings, focus on it and ignore all other teachings that are meant to balance it. This is why we have Christians who are racists, who are hateful, who are discriminating with their spiritual gifts, who follow false Christs and who recklessly spread their selective ideas to the disadvantage of the Church.

10. Christians elevate God above science.

Science is actually a religion nowadays that even the atheists bow to. But for the Christian, science only proves the existence of God. Any discovery by science was made by God and serves a purpose in His plan. There are many other things in the world that God created and is only waiting to be discovered. And if there is anything about the faith that science could not accept, it’s only because science is dealing with Someone that they could not possibly measure.

When Stephen Hawking declared, “There is no need for theology… There is no God…”

The Christians answered, “It is because our God is too big for your devices, your theories, your formulas and your equations… And He requires something that your science can’t grasp: Faith.”

It’s a never-ending debate. But does this mean that the Christian doesn’t enjoy science and technology? We do! But its just that we see a higher purpose to it all: it all points to Jesus, our Maker and Creator.

And the Church goes on…

These are just some of the reasons why Christians are disliked. And we know that its not going to change. Its something that we have to live with. Its part of the cross that we have to bear. And we do so joyfully for our Lord who took our place on the cross.

This faith that we have will continue, despite the regular attacks we receive. Why? Because this faith is not of this world. And the God who nurtures it is beyond this world.

A Jewish leader, Gamaliel, did well when he said this in a deliberation among Jewish leaders on what to do with the apostles in Acts 5:35-39:

“…be careful about what you’re going to do with these men… Leave them alone… For if this plan or this work is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God… you may be even found fighting against God…”

2000 years later, the Church of Jesus still stands.

 

Handed Over: The Christian’s Only Fear

The Scream, a painting by Edvard Munch via Wikipedia

The Scream, a painting by Edvard Munch via Wikipedia

There are few things that a Christian truly fears. I don’t mean here that believers are emotionless. Sure we get startled in an explosion. Or get anxious about some things beyond our control. Or get scared of heights or spiders. We do have our phobias still. We’re human after all.

The fear that I mean here is that state of being continually fearful. That fear that is the blackest of blacks. That fear that consumes you day and night and makes you give up on life. The fear that has no hope of rescue – that’s the fear that I mean, the fear that a Christian doesn’t have.

How can we have that kind of fear in our hearts if we are children of an Almighty God? How can we continually be afraid of anything if we have a Mighty Father beside us, 24/7?

No believer continued to be afraid when the recession hit in 2008 because we knew then that our Provider never left our side. No Christian was desperate as Supertyphoon Yolanda hit in 2013 for we knew then that He is always in control. How could we be afraid today of what will happen to our kids in the future if we know that God loves our kids more than we ever could?

We just can’t be afraid.

Sometimes we get derailed, we stumble a little bit, but we always find our balance. Sometimes we fall, but our hope never runs out. We always rise again for our Lord who gave everything up for us in love.

But there’s a fear that a believer does have. A fear that separates the genuine from the fake. For this fear only grips those who truly love God and desire Him deeply.

This fear is the Christian’s fear of being handed over to his or her unholy desires.

This is the fear of being allowed by God Himself to what you think is nice after He kept you away from it for so long. This is that event in a believer’s life when our conscience stops working and we go through a downward spiral of sin. That terrible time when God lets you go and stops interfering. You think that God is OK with it regardless of what’s in His Word, when in truth, He’s already miles away from you.

Picture a cat surrounded by a gang of pit bulls – pit bulls that haven’t eaten for days. The cat’s owner did all he could to keep him away from them, but the cat is stupid. He thinks that the pit bulls are friends and all that barking means they like him. No matter how sophisticated the cage is, the cat always finds a way to get out and rush to the other side. The owner always caught him in the nick of time. But then the cat is relentless. He wants what he thinks is the best for him. And he sees the owner not as a protector, but a dictator and oppressor. So what does the cat do? The next time his owner catches him, he claws and bites. The owner realizes that the cat’s problem is his desire, entrenched deep in his heart; reason will not work at all. So he sadly lets his cat go, and waits. What does the owner wait for? The cat’s own realization that he was wrong all along and his master is right. The cat’s own willingness – his panic – to get back to his master’s arms.The owner doesn’t want it, but the cat won’t listen to reason and will rather experience the pain and separation.

This is what happens to a Christian who will not stop on doing what he knows is wrong. This is what happens when the believer ignores the Holy Spirit and refuse to repent. God doesn’t want it because He knows it will hurt the believer, but the believer keeps wandering away and sees God as his oppressor. So God lets go. With great sorrow, He stands back as His child is devoured by sin.

This “handing over” is found in Scripture. The ESV and KJV Bible calls it “give up”. The HCSB Bible calls it “deliver over”. The NIV Bible calls it “give over”.

Let’s use the ESV for this article…

“So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels.” Psalms 81:12

“For this reason, God gave them up to dishonorable passions…” Romans 1:26.

“And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done…” Romans 1:28

Ephesians 4:19 is quite special because it shows the sinning Christian’s personal choice to give himself or herself over to depravity: ‘Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality…”

To illustrate this more, think of David and his adultery. After that, think of Solomon, his concubines and idolatry. Think of what happened next when God have them over to their desires.

This also brings to mind the BTK killer, Dennis Lynn Rader, of Wichita, Kansas who killed and tortured 10 people between 1974 to 1991. He was arrested in 2005. During the time of his arrest, he was president of the congregation council of Christ Lutheran Church in Wichita. Before his arrest, he wrote letters to police and media about his previous crimes. These letters were not letters of remorse but of boasting and taunting. Hiding behind an alias, he told the world of his desire to defile and murder women and children. It was discovered later that some of the letters he made were written in the church using the church desktop computer. When he pleaded guilty, it was without remorse. Police say that there are many “lucky” people because Rader was on the verge of relapse when he was arrested. He is now in solitary confinement. (Source: Wikipedia)

I will not say that Rader was never a believer in the first place and will go to hell. I don’t know that. Only he and God does. But here’s what I’m sure of, while he was a part of that church, God reached out to him repeatedly. Many times God forgave him and urged him to surrender. Many times, God would fight for him and tell him to stop his evil desires so that he won’t go back to where he came from in 1991 when he killed his last victim. But somewhere along the way, God had to let go. Why did God give him that much time? Why didn’t God strike him with death and disability right away? That is not for us to know. Fact is, God reached out to Rader. Rader wanted out. God let him go.

Christian, are you in that crossroad right now where God tells you to stop? Is the Lord urging you in your spirit to come back to him?

Is it a little stealing from the company funds? Don’t wait for God to let you go and let it grow into a full blown corporate crime.

Is it just a little gambling? Your God is trying to hold you back from bankruptcy.

Is it a little porn? If God let’s go, you won’t just lose your family, you could be on your way to becoming a pedophile. Maybe your first victim would be your own daughter.

Is it just one night of liberty with your boyfriend? If God let’s go, you better be ready for single parenthood.

Is it just a little torture of a puppy? Why do you think we feel so horrified when we see that done on any small animal? That’s God telling us that it’s not right. Dennis Rader started his serial killing with animal torture.

If God holds us back, it’s only because He wants us to get back to safety. Let’s love that about our Father. It’s an indicator that He’s there and that He cares.

It is with these same thoughts that David wrote, “..Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me…” (Psalms 23: 4).

I would rather have His loving discipline than live a life of separation from my Father.

What The Master Expects Of Us

Are you meeting heaven's expectations?

Are you meeting heaven’s expectations?

I’ve been in the pharmaceutical industry for the past 7 years now. We have regular Field Appraisal Reports in this job. FARs are when the supervisor evaluates my performances and me as an employee. I look forward to these evaluations because they are a good way of seeing myself from a higher perspective.

Years ago, a supervisor sat down with me over coffee and sited how good I have been in hitting my sales targets. Of course, I was expecting perhaps a slight congratulations or pat in the back, human as I am. I was surprised to hear his words that followed. It went something like this:

“You must be expecting praise and a pat on the back for your work. Well, I’m so sorry, but I won’t give it to you. All that you’ve done and achieved is the company’s expectations. You were expected to hit these targets, it was your job— your responsibility. There is nothing spectacular about this. It takes more than this to deserve a commendation. I’m so sorry…”

I’m not sure if this is a sound coaching or management technique. I think he was trying to motivate me by making me see that I am mediocre despite my best efforts . I did get motivated after that, but not by him. After that day, I understood why it is important to work and aim for excellence, not for the approval of men, not for trophies, but to do so for my God who is my constant companion. I realized that if I kept trying to please my human supervisors who do not see my struggles in the area, who do not really know who I am inside, who are flawed just like me— then I am in for a roller coaster ride and I would be robbed of my joy in life.

But then, this supervisor’s approach in handling my evaluation, has its merits. What he said had truth in it. I think, if I was in his shoes, I would’ve used better words that encouraged and built up. But I gotta hand it to him, he was telling the truth. I was only doing what was expected of me.

That was a big learning experience for me. But this brings to my mind also a misconception among followers of Christ.

But before that, let me share quickly a little bit of me. I have a very unique life. Despite of a generally negative public perception of my job, I’m an active Christian. I’m not content only with personal prayers, attending church on Sundays, and tithing. I serve the Lord whenever I can. When my pastor needs me to help, if the task is aligned with God’s gifts to me, I help with a passion. I’m good with words, so the help I extend to my church often is sharing my faith through speaking. So, sometimes I encourage the church to give. And sometimes, when requested, I deliver the Lord’s message on the pulpit too.

Apart from church, I share my faith with any seeker that the Lord sends my way (in the field or on the internet). Among my colleagues, I make sure that they know my faith without forcing my theology on them.

Last year, I also decided to make my writings on life, faith and God public through this blog. I’m trying hard as well to finish a novel that I’m doing for Him, though I’m encountering wall after wall due to the busyness of my current job.

I then watch my deeds and words as much as I can because I think that’s the Christian’s most effective recruitment tool: his goodness (aside from doing it out of gratitude and love for God). Besides, once a person professes to be a genuine Christian, he or she will be on everyone’s watch list 24/7—- waiting for him or her to fall.

Seeing and hearing all this, people would often ask me: “You sound like you’re going to be  a Pastor. Why don’t you become one? I think you’re on your way there…”

This is a great, pleasing compliment for me, by the way. I think being a full-time servant of God is a great honor and privilege, but only if one has discerned without a doubt that God is calling him or her. There isn’t a month that passes by that I ask the Lord the same questions. And always, He tells me— through prayers and introspection, through meditation on Scripture, through affirmations by the authorities He’s sent me, and through the situations in my life that He crafts— He tells me to stay where I am, for now, despite of the struggles.

Now here’s my point: Why do we think that sharing our faith through our gifts and talents is reserved for pastors only? Why do we associate reading the Bible and mastering exegesis (proper, objective interpretation of Scripture) to be a pastor’s task only? Why do we think that suffering for the gospel and being ridiculed for Christ is only for full-time servants of God? Aren’t all these only what is expected of a Christian? As far as the Bible is concerned, God’s answer is: Yes, they are.

When someone becomes a Christian, he or she is called to belong to, and to be set apart for, God. The Christian, whether new or a veteran believer, need not be reminded to seek ways to serve the Savior out of overflowing love and gratitude. I think the mark of a person who has genuinely received Christ in his or her soul is the urgent and passionate desire to meditate on the Bible, to battle sin, to be a functioning part of a church, to share the faith, to proclaim to his or her corner of the world that Jesus is God, Savior and Redeemer.

All that is only what is expected of a Christian and are not grounds to be a pastor at all. Being a pastor or full-time servant is an entirely different and much higher calling.

Let me end this article with these realizations…

If you’ve been going around telling everyone that you’re a Christian and you haven’t done none of the above acts recently, then you’re falling behind expectations, friend. But help is just a prayer away. The Lord turns away no one who seeks Him truly, no matter what his or her past is. This Holy Week is a good chance to unplug and see what’s going on inside you. Don’t let it pass by without being still and knowing your God and His plans for you.

On the other hand, if you’re considering to be a full-time servant just because of the acts I’ve mentioned, think again and pray. And after that, think and pray some more. Subject yourself to spiritual mentoring with your church.

The world is filled with spiritual leaders who are regretful and/or powerless. Their actions betray them. Let’s not add to their numbers.

A year doesn’t pass by that I don’t hear stories of pastors or priests or ministers giving up the leadership, or molesting a child, committing acts of lasciviousness, womanizing, alcoholism, stealing funds, power-playing, intentionally forgetting to pay debts, tolerating sin in the church, manipulating their flock, neglecting Scripture, basking in avarice and more…

Sibling in the Lord, don’t think too highly of yourself when all you’ve done is just what’s expected of you. None of us need to be in the spotlight to serve Him. Be content and joyful to be among believers worldwide who serve the Lord.

But if you are indeed called to be a pastor, then let no one stop you from pursuing an even higher calling. Great blessings await you.

As for those of us in the marketplace, proclaiming the Name of Jesus from the mountain tops, lets keep going. Don’t let the scoffers silence us. Let’s faithfully do what the Master expects of us. Let Him worry about all else. Let’s do more for our Redeemer. Let’s aim for excellence, shining His light wherever we are. Let’s be hands and feet of blessings to His chosen leaders and authorities.

This is where our joy truly lies.

You don’t have to be a Zombie to be a Christian.

Image by Scott Beale via Flickr, The Commons

Image by Scott Beale via Flickr, The New Commons

Have you watched those awesome movies about Zombies? I’ve watched some of them: I Am Legend, 28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later, Resident Evil, The Walking Dead Series..

These movies/shows have virtually the same storyline: the world population will slowly die when a virus is accidentally released that then turns people into zombies. Then it becomes a worldwide disaster, a few will survive and fight back bravely, yadah yadah, yadah…

Part of the tension comes from scenes where the loved ones of the heroes turn into monsters. Their joy in life is lost. Their character is lost. Their memories are wiped out. Whatever was there before was gone, replaced by a mindless animal. They are reduced into walking, limping, salivating pieces of meat that couldn’t die, savaging every living thing that they come across. They’re still alive, but they’re also dead at the same time.

I truly hope that this would not be the case among Christians. Yes, we’ve been transformed into new creations— that of goodness, righteousness and peace. The past is gone, the new has come.

But it is the sin that is being purged in the Christian, not the person. God hates the sin, not the sinner.

Its sad to see tribes losing their cultural heritage after converting to Christianity. They lose the traditional clothes, the tents, sometimes their entire cultural identity— in the name of Christianity. Everything is replaced by western things and ways of life. The tribesman might suddenly have an ill-fitting American suit. He might find some gadgets necessary when he could’ve lived without them in the past. The guy that his family and friends used to enjoy disappears and can’t seem to relate to them anymore. The new Christian fades from his world instead of giving off his light…

Being a Christian doesn’t mean changing into a template of character that isn’t you. Being saved shouldn’t erase who you are. It should, instead, lighten your load for your travels. Jesus will teach you in the Bible who you were designed to be and then show you the things that you don’t really need to carry with you in your journey.

But He won’t take away what makes you unique. You can still be a follower of Christ and be the life of the party. You get to keep your humorous ways, your quiet ways, your being a prankster, your love for certain kinds of music, your love for certain kinds of books, your love for certain TV shows, your preferences on food and worship. You get to keep your dreams of being the singer or actor or lawyer or doctor or athlete that you wanna be. You get to keep your family and friends too. You get to keep anything that doesn’t separate you from your Redeemer anymore. That’s the freedom you have received from the Lord. You’re no longer bound by laws and norms and public approval, but instead you’re counted as blessed by what Jesus did on the cross if you believe in Him truly.

Christianity isn’t mind control.

It certainly isn’t the zombie virus. It allows the person a lot of room for individuality. It doesn’t take over the driver’s seat in your mind. Instead, it gives you a higher calling— a better way of doing things.  It also shouldn’t cause you to terrorize people like zombies do. It shouldn’t teach you to shove your theology down the throat of everyone you meet.

True Christianity doesn’t finger-point and tell people that they’re going to burn in hell.

If anything, it actually teaches you to be considerate of other people’s feelings. Instead of pushing people away, you become compelled to attract people to you and your God— even when it hurts. It will make you share your new life more by actions than by your words. And if you ever preach verbally, you do so in the gentlest way you can.

Pastor Greg Laurie, Senior Pastor of Harvest Ministries, said it this way:

“We are here not to isolate ourselves, but to infiltrate the world.”

We don’t expect everyone to accept our message of Salvation through Christ. Rejection and persecution is part of being a Christian. But let’s keep this in mind:
People who walk away from the Savior should do so only because of His message, and not because of His followers.