When East Meets West

How do you make opposite ends meet? A positive and a negative always repel. Same as good and evil. As with everything else that are opposites in this world.

Let’s say two persons coming from exactly two different backgrounds met and fell in love, how do you keep them together?

The only answer is this: only God can.

But what if God revolves at the core existence of one person and God is “just there” for the other?

Now this is where things get complicated. I have been with my spiritual family via the church for only about a couple of years. And I have seen how faith can bridge distances and cultural differences regardless if you are rich or poor, pretty or not, intelligent or not, educated or uneducated, etc.

And yet, as I go through my devotion and bible reading everyday along with the Spirit’s guidance, the thought that faith and hope indeed only come after love is always reiterated. It is love that makes every relationship work.

Yes, passe.

But I guess this is the part where I would stress out that the love I am talking about here is not the kind of love that everybody is familiar with. Nor is it even the ones that we see on romantic movies or we read in romance novels. This kind of love, as most Christians know, is love that directly points to God. The kind of love that is so hard to achieve.

This was the kind of love that God has been teaching me for this season. Not only for my partner but for his family and the other people I met through him. I do not want to judge. But for the sake of understanding where my point is coming from, I’d have to describe some characteristics that I have observed.

Being a Christian is not a name that you flaunt around. In fact, being a Christian entails deeper, bigger and heavier responsibilities. An unbelieving spouse, for one, can cause conflict in the relationship when persecution becomes present in the relationship because of differences in religious beliefs and practices even though both of you are Christians but only one is a believer.

Values, manners, upbringing, lifestyle – they all become factors affecting how a couple will run the relationship if God is not present. They become a baggage that both couple had to carry and only then can you realize that without God, you will lose hope in enduring the sacrifices you make, the consequences you had to face of a mistake that you did not commit, restoring relationships and facing persecution.

For example, how would you feel if on a Good Friday, you were invited by his family to go to a bar and grill such as Pier One instead of staying at home, praying and pondering on the sacrifices made by Jesus Christ on the Cross? I would’ve chosen the latter if I have the choice, but at that time, I unfortunately do not have that privilege. My heart screamed. I wanted to rebel, to cry out and say my “NO.” But I know all I can ever do is to pray for the Spirit’s leading instead of complaining.

I did not drink any alcohol though they tried to offer me some. I ate, I tried to listen to the band performing until came the moment I could not bear it all I contacted the first spiritual mentor I have – my brother. And his suggestion was for me to stand firm in my faith and endure it all. He told me that maybe that is the reason why God put me there in the first place. To let them see what it is to be a Christian not only by name but in action, in words and in faith.

And then the situation reminded me exactly of what Jesus did on the Cross – He endured everything not uttering a single word complaining or a word expressing His discomfort. Except only when He asked God why He had forsaken Him. Now a lot of verses filled my head such as this one:

“For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in His steps.” – 1 Peter 2:21 NLT

And then you thought that is the only conflict you had to go through. Come familial attachments and values that are a barrier too high and too solid to break. I was on the verge of persecuting and judging others. Yes, I was beginning to feel hopeless and yet God never failed to remind me how it is to REALLY love despite the differences, the persecution, the suffering and the pain. I was led to verses and biblical quotations day after day supplying me the Godly wisdom that I needed. And sometimes the effort does not come from my own anymore but God supplied even the strength and the courage that I needed to muster.

This was one of the quotations that I felt God was talking to me directly at the time that I needed it most:

“Be as patient with others as God has been with you.” – Our Daily Bread

I know God will fight this battle for me. I was only a soldier and He is my commander. On my end, He requires me to be patient, to endure and to follow where He leads me. It is not for me to decide whether I win or lose. But I have the assurance that fighting a battle with God will surely end in eternal glory – something that this world can never define. God will never give something that will break you and your faith apart. For it was His plan to send His son on Earth and it is Jesus’ role to come before us and carry our sins, the barrier between man and God, so we can receive the gift of salvation and have a personal relationship with Him.

It is just amazing how God uses people, circumstances and resources to fulfill the mission He has set out for you. Indeed, they are all part of His much bigger plans that our mere mortal minds can never comprehend.

Looking back and pondering now, the only question that I remembered asking God so many times was this:

“Father, why is it so difficult to love people the way that You have loved us?”

And my constant prayer in this season was this:

“Father, teach me to have eyes that see the good in people and the heart that loves them the way You have loved them.”

The answer is always a personal encounter, a conviction or an instruction. One answer came through my hobby in sketching – my very first sketch on faith, Jesus and the crown of thorns accompanied by the following verses:

“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” – Romans 8: 1-2 NLT

Tin Ginete

Jesus, My Savior

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