I was inspired by Grimwald’s previous article that I felt I want to delve into it and try to add my own insights. It’s a Sunday and as Grimwald puts it, time to deliver a sermon.
We go to God whenever we are in crisis but generally no one really bothered to examine our relationship with him as a nation.
The Philippines is a predominantly Christian country in South East Asia and actually East Asia. Catholicism dominates the Christian religion in the Philippines and, as Ninoy Aquino added in the quoted interview below, “…we were instinctively Catholics.” There are other sects established in the Philippines who claim they are more improved and are Bible-based than the dominant religion but I have a few friends there too that say otherwise. But the bright side of it is that there are still Filipinos who are continually “seeking his righteousness.”
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However, I am wondering. If we are indeed one of the most Christian countries in the whole world, why does it seem that God’s blessings are not reaching the Philippines despite centuries of prayers and pleas? We are his only believers in this region of the world so we should get divine priority, right? Is he not hearing us? He is too powerful that no sound audible to humans or not that he cannot hear. Are we not praying enough? In the Bible, God explained in many ways that praying have certain requirements. Are we not complying those requirements? And, lastly, how much do we know about the person we are praying to?
1. Do we have an accurate knowledge of God?
“… 85% of Filipinos are Christians…but we never really read the Bible (referring to the Catholics). I don’t know why…” – An excerpt from the interview of the late former senator Ninoy Aquino in The 700 Club.
The primary source of information about God for us Christians is the Bible. Some may cling to other literatures but ultimately it is the Bible as the Muslims to their Quran. I studied in a Catholic elementary school and I somehow proved to myself Aquino’s statement about not reading (or reading less) of the Bible. We had books about religion but those literatures tell more about saints and their miracles, and about the rituals of the Catholics. None of those literatures discussed God’s personality, his sense of justice, proof that he is love, a giver, an all-knowing, all-loving, all-caring person in detail. I graduated from that school carrying an understanding that we have a very strict and unforgiving deity that it once led me to conclude that he is unfair and I preferred being an atheist rejecting the possibility that such a powerful person as God is too impossible.
I just wondered, if we do not have an accurate knowledge of God, his personality, what makes him happy, what kinds of prayer he hears, then I guess we need to reexamine our understanding of him first. Otherwise, don’t you agree that it’s like we keep calling him but we kept dialing the wrong numbers?
2. How much do we follow the Ten Commandments?
(Note: I will not discuss all of the commandments)
a. Thou shalt have no other gods before me (Exodus 20:3)
How many of us Filipinos are still starstruck ignoramuses that our minds are very occupied by the affairs of our showbiz idols almost 24/7 instead of gaining accurate knowledge of God? How much time is spent on studying religious matters compared to watching TV for some popular show, browsing the internet to see what is and is not trending or just to get an update on showbiz news. As Christians, we all agree that God created us. If that is so, why are we spending only an hour of an entire week to worship our Creator while we spent the rest of it on some actor, actress, or politician that doesn’t even know us and will fade eventually in a matter of years? To who do we owe our existence? To our government officials? – Que horror!
If we are to construe Exodus 20:3, don’t you think that God also means “I must have your undivided focus” which was actually put as “Love God with all your heart, with all your strength and with all your mind.”?
My point is if we are not giving God much attention, then perhaps he is doing the same to us.
b. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God (Exodus 20:5)
What is it exactly that we do not understand about “thou shall not make a graven image” and “thou shall not bow down to them, nor serve them”? In fairness to the INC, (one time I watched of their programs on TV) I understood this commandment more when I saw one of their commercials. Let me describe to you what I saw:
– Comes in the scene a man holding a chunk of timber
– Waiting at the setting is a chisel and hammer (no other tools, just that)
– He began working on the wood
– Done! Finished product – a figure.
– Lit candles (two based on my memory)
– Final scene: puts the figure and the candles on top of a table, kneels down and pray.
My feeling after seeing that –> Disgusted. I’m sorry my Catholic friends. Why? Because I suddenly remembered when I was around 7 years old, one Christmas Eve, we kids were told to fall in line and kiss the Baby Jesus figure.
If we are praying to God but does this with an image considering that he explicitly told us not to do so, do you think he’d hear us?
c. Thou shall not commit adultery (Exodus 20:14)
Adultery is defined by dictionary.com as ‘the voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and someone other than his or her lawful spouse.” In the Bible, I recall Christ preaching against adultery twice and in one he said that a mere lustful look at a woman is already adulterous.
What do we have in society now? Don’t we have leaders that are known philanderers? Who voted for them? Isn’t it the majority? What is their basis? The performance as a previous official and potential to do good could be the answers but then again, being a philanderer should at least made us think twice about these men with respect to the commandment thou shall not commit adultery. Or is it just the Filipino male’s sexuality and ego comes to play in choosing who to vote for?
Ilang babasahin ba meron tayo ngayon na sa bungad nito ay mga litrato ng mga babae na naka-posturang akala mo e (patawad sa paggamit ng salita) – naglalandi. Some will say this is art or freedom of expression. To those who will say that, please explain where do you draw the line? When do you say it is pornographic and when it is art? And please explain when this has become freedom of expression because, according to thelawdictionary.org, it is “The right to say what one wants through any form of communication and media, with the only limitation being to cause another harm in character or reputation by lying or misleading words.” The definition did not include posing almost naked in the media. I can see one word in the mentioned definition that applies to my contention: misleading. It somehow sends a message that women are pleasure objects waiting to be devoured anytime which leads to lust then to adultery.
Imagine this: God is about to grant our prayers and travels from his realm to Malacanan for it but along the way he saw magazines and tabloids with barely clothed women on its covers? Do you think he’ll proceed or will have his convoy turn back?
d. Thou shall not steal (Exodus 20:15)
How many leaders have we elected to office that had previous records of plunder or suspected of amassing millions while in office? Have we learned our lessons? I don’t think so. Some of them have been tried and proven guilty but somehow found a way to crawl back to rise again. Others are suspected and under investigation but cannot prove their innocence in any forum and yet they have quite a number of supporters.
If you are god and you have your people praying for economic progress with such leaders that will supervise the benefits of “economic progress” how will you hear the prayer?
Could it be the one of the reasons why we are still so Third World?
e. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. (Exodus 20:16)
Lately, I have been seeing and hearing claims that former president Marcos was merely maligned in history as if we were wrongly informed about him. On another note, I’ve seen a blog telling the scandals of the Aquino/Cojuanco family. Totally different from the way media has projected them. At any rate, reputations have been damaged and public image has been tainted. But I am certain that there are lies in either or both stories.
Mudslinging – wow!
In an election one candidate will definitely rise from the mudslinging where he himself took part and win. Then he will take the oath in which the last statement he will say “So help me God.” – Knowing what he did to get there – “So help me your face!”
By the way, how sure are we that the winner won fair and square? (Bear false witness…)
“Vox Populi Vox Dei” – And God was like “not in your elections.”
Finally, am I expressing a lack of faith in God? I’m not. I am questioning, as I have mentioned, our relationship with him as a nation and our collective means of communicating with him. Remember the Biblical story of Nineveh? It took them only one warning and they repented and God forgave them. What about us?
[Photo courtesy Tempo.]
I use to be a future Supreme Court justice.