Living in the Philippines that is said to be “the only Christian nation in Asia”, Filipinos can talk freely about Christ anytime, anywhere. In fact, 80 % would say that they have a firm faith in God and believe that He is a big help in their lives. We say that He is our guiding light, say prayers more than once every day: morning, before going to bed and even before taking a shower and in malls at 12 and 3 PM. We celebrate his birth not just for a day but for more than 5 days at the end of the year. We mourn over his death and would even walk miles contemplating it. Some even copy the very suffering of Christ and would have themselves crucified. We loathe atheists and we think highly of the religious. We go to Sunday masses and services and we give tithes and offerings.
But we spend the rest of our days and nights worried and restless. Feeling the great need to protect ourselves, we compromise. We don’t pay our taxes. We give false declarations about our incomes, our expenses. Feeling taken advantage of, we say hurtful words to each other and about each other. We curse. We lie. We refuse to love. We don’t mirror the very decrees our “faith” advocates.
When asked about our principles in life, we come up with postmodern ideas: you deserve to be happy; life is all about you; you owe it to yourself. You. You. You. We are more than confused about the way life should be. We claim to be Christians but our hearts are far from Christ. We believe in God but we live as though He doesn’t exist.
Most of all, our religious life is purely religious – just a compartment in life – a supplementary to make us feel right about ourselves, giving us a feeling that we are not completely doomed. We play our game and we keep God on the bleachers – sitting there watching, not as a coach we allow to direct, teach, train and celebrate our victories with us. We pray that He will guide our marriage, that He will give us the “man” or “woman” who has knocked us off our feet – but we don’t listen when He tells us to let go, or when He tells us how to make things better.
We want the best of what we think He could give but we are not ready and willing to give our hearts to Him, to really know Him – to listen, to learn and to surrender. We want the best of life – but we have not turned to the only one who could give it. We want just a portion of God, not all of Him. We want to keep Him in our home but we are busy with other things. We think that we have it all made up by our piety and the things we do for Him. The truth is, God does not need us. He will still be God without our tithes, our worship, our fasting, our masses and services. What He desires more is our hearts – a child-like attitude in approaching Him, a willingness to give it all up in exchange for a life that He will bless and use to bless others. With this kind of life, God would often tip us off our comfort boats, our security blankets and our little comfy world. He would break us – only to make us whole. He would make us cry – only to comfort us with His Spirit. Then we end up satisfied, peaceful and joyful – not because we have everything or everything is going well – but simply because He is there. His presence would be enough. It would not be a life free from pain or the other nasty things, but one spent knowing the almighty God who will just keep blowing our mind away. We would be so busy knowing Him, loving Him and being loved in return that everything else would become so small and easy to handle.