Form or Goal?

When deciding on something, do you pursue the form or the goal?

“I will buy an iPad because I love Apple”

“I will become a call center agent after I graduate, that’s the fastest way to having a career after I graduate”

“I need to go abroad, my family needs money to live”

“I have been attending this church since I was born. Why would I try others that they say would benefit me?”

Form or goal?

In buying a gadget, the form are brands, the goal is usability.

In establishing a career, the form is your job, the goal is being able to use your unique passion in pursuing the kind of work designed for you.

In relationships and family, the form is job security, the goal is love and togetherness.

In worship, the form is a church, the goal is God

In making decisions, the forms are almost always given emphasis. But in the long run, if we focus on the goal rather than the form, it produces short term pains and long term gains.

So how are you spending the Christmas season?

Christmas has always been traditionally the fondest, most anticipated and busiest time of the year. And this is also the most misinterpreted holiday of the year.

So how should we spend the Christmas season. Let’s go back to basics. A note from LifeChurch.tv’s Facebook account:

Christmas has become, for many of us, a season of eating, shopping, hosting and spending. We run ourselves ragged in an effort to please the people around us and make everyone get along long enough for all of the holiday pictures to be taken. It’s exhausting and it’s all a bunch of focus on the things that Christmas was never meant to be. We’re not gonna take it anymore. We’re going to make this year different.

This year, (let’s go) back to the basics. This year Christmas (should) be about worship, giving, and love. Those are the things that the first Christmas was all about. When Jesus was born he was a gift from the creator. He was the symbol of God’s love for us. These two realizations caused the shepherds who first visited him to worship in awe of the wonderful miracle of the Messiah.

So as we head into the holiday, let’s conspire to change Christmas. Let’s leave behind the stress and spending and trade them in for worship, giving and love.

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What’s happening to us?

A couple of weeks ago, flash floods wreck havoc in Metro Manila, killing 350 people, displacing more than a million individuals — most are still displaced and in evacuation centers.

In the middle of this tragedy, before the week ends, another super typhoon crossed the country. And while it changes its course and has spared Metro Manila, it did create damage in Northern Luzon.

It was on its way out, when another typhoon entered and pulled it back and landed to Northern Luzon 3 times, killing hundreds more on landslides and floods.

Today, I opened my television in the morning, I saw 65% of Pangasinan under water. My mother called from Nueva Ecija, and while she comforted me by saying they are just fine, she reported that most of our town Jaen is already under flood water.

Can you imagine that a mountain city like Baguio will experience flood?

Can’t help but ask, what’s going on? What’s happening to us?

It’s a rhetorical question, don’t need to answer that. I just feel that I need to get that off my chest.

Yes man?

Did you see the newest Jim Carey movie “Yes man“? We did.

The plot of the story: for you to enjoy life and be happy, say yes to everything that comes your way.

I’m a “yes man” and I’m unhappy about it.

– People tell me what to do. I say “yes”, almost every time.
– Even if I’m not sure about something, I would just say “Yes” because I wouldn’t want an opportunity to pass by.
– I hate to offend people, so I’d say “yes” because by saying “no”, they’ll be offended.

The net effect: I do more things with less results. Instead of learning from mistakes, I commit mistakes over and over again. I’m seriously like “a lady” for being a “yes man”. Because a true man can make tough decisions, reject what needs to be rejected and face whatever consequence it may bring.

I’m going to be “No man”. I’d say “no” if I mean “no”. I will make tough decisions — and people will be hurt, in the process. I will say sorry, but go ahead anyway. Saying “no” is tougher than saying “yes”.

I will be a “NO man”. Yes?

A church is not a social club (and other things we thought it is but isn’t)

(Note: with all respect and no offense meant to the Roman Catholic Church, these insights do not describe her when I mention the word “church”. I’m talking about mostly evangelical churches where membership are tight and each member has a sense of “family”, unlike the admittedly current state of the Roman Catholic church where parishioners just come and go Sunday in and Sunday out. But that’s another issue. Title idea grabbed from Dennis)

I’ve been thinking about this lately:

1. What if the church is just like a social club? As long as you pay your yearly or monthly dues, as long as you can keep up with other members of the club, as long as you can have some funny stories to tell after the meeting, you’re all good. They won’t care about what you do after each “sosyalan” meetings. The moment you ride your car home, you’re all alone. They won’t bother what you do after you leave the hall. Just call them if you need connections later on — you’ve got to do that, because they will do that to you, too.  Gamitan lang ang laban sa mga social club.

2. What if the church is like a barkadahan, a clique? Your friends are with you when everything is cool. If things get rough, they leave. Some, of course, will stay with you. True friends are such. But they don’t care about your future, they care about the fun of the present. This is where you will hear them say, “Pare, kung saan ka masaya, susuportahan ka namin“. That sounds comforting. But in reality, they may well be driving you off the cliff. But they don’t care. Anyway, if driving off the cliff is where you’re happy at, they’ll support you. That’s what friends are for, right?

3. What if the church is a fraternity? You do something good — or hard — to enter the exclusive group. So once you’re in, you’re in. And you’re a brother. They will support you whatever you do. Good, bad. Everything, just do it. Not only that they are supporting you, they will even go with you. So whether it’s community service or a plot to kill a member of another fraternity, they will join you. That’s their definition of brotherhood.

* * *

Case in point: if say, for the sake of illustration, I have a church-mate whom I love so much, and I know that he’s heading to the cliff — that what he’s doing will hurt him, his love ones, other people’s love ones, how should I treat him? Should I treat him like a social club member? “Oh, well, I don’t care what you do after you leave the Sunday service. You’re giving your offerings, and we need you as a member. You help the organization. So, do whatever you want to do”.

Or a barkada? “Brad, kung saan ka masaya, susuportahan kita. Yan ang gusto mo eh. Basta nandito lang kami sa tabi mo pag kailangan mo kami“.

Or a frat member? “Brad, sige, gawin mo. Gusto mo samahan ka pa namin eh. Wag mo isipin kung sino masasaktan mo. Basta pag trip mo, gawin mo!

Is a church a social club, a clique, or a fraternity? Or neither.

* * *

Two words that describe what should happen in a church: grace and intollerance.

We are called to love anyone — warts and all. We should accept everyone who needs love, patience and mercy. In the first place, a church is a hospital field with wounded individuals. It should not become a social club of holier-than-thou religious pharisees. If anyone sins, let the church show grace and mercy and love.

BUT…

The church should also show intolerance to known sins. God hates sin. He is angry at sin. In fact, sin is the reason why Jesus died on the cross. If God is intolerant to sin, the church, as a God-honoring institution, should act the same way.

While we love every sinner, we should not tolerate sins. In fact, we should rebuke all forms of sins.

Unfortunately, along the way, correcting an individual will lead into hoops:

* The “you don’t have the right” hoop. This is where a church is different from a social club or a clique. When one decides to be part of a local church, they become his spiritual partners. And as partners, it is their right to help you go through your spiritual issues. It is their right to guide you. To correct you. To show you how Jesus can help you overcome your sin. You too, have the right: and that is the right to refuse. On the other hand, your refusal to be under correction can lead the church to act and provide disciplinary actions.

* The “why would a sinner like you correct me?” hoop . This is very common. I was asked one time. How should you respond whenever someone who is being rebuked would say “You yourself have committed mistakes like this, how can you afford to rebuke me?” Here’s a fact: nobody is blameless. Nobody is sinless. Nobody is perfect. But that doesn’t mean everyone is disqualified to lovingly correct another member of the church because he himself is a sinner. If the rebuke is based on the Word of God, everyone, whatever past he has, if done with the purpose other than to humiliate the person, can correct anyone who has been outwardly sinning.

* The “don’t judge me” hoop. “Don’t judge so you won’t be judged” has been used out of context over and over again. It’s a whole new topic, but to explain in short, everyone can pass judgment if he thinks the judgment is based on the Bible. If the Bible is clear, then go ahead and declare it in front of the sinning individual.

* * *

A church is a family. It’s the type of family that never ends. It’s the only relationship that will exist throughout eternity. It is very important for us to realize that being in a church family is a gift and a responsibility. We’re not a social club where you won’t care about your fellow member’s sinful acts. We’re not a clique where you will not care and say nothing about your friend’s sins just because he is “happy” for what he is doing, when you know that it will lead him to death. Neither it is like a fraternity that will even tolerate the sin!

A church will say something, do something, and stop something — because of love. Sometimes, correction will hurt. Sometimes, it will try to destroy so it can rebuild. The Bible says, “Better is open rebuke than hidden love” (Prov. 27:5) If the church rebukes a sinner, it is because of love. It is because she desires restoration. The goal is to bring back that lost relationship with God broken by the bonds of sin. If reconcillation is the heart of God, this should be the heart of the church. And if restoration means pain and suffering, it will be done just so a better, more vibrant relationship with God can be restored.