Rebellion against Authority
All throughout my teenage years, I was rebellious. I was disrespectful and often talked back to my mom and aunt. I challenge the status quo. I defy rules I find unreasonable or irrelevant and follow only those I find beneficial. I did things on my own and made decisions for myself. I became independent and self-sufficient. I do what I want not what adults want or what popular opinion dictates.
When I’m told to do something and I don’t find reason to it, I’d do the exact opposite. My mom suggested me to take an in-demand course to have an opportunity to work abroad and get a higher pay. I wasn’t convinced so I chose a completely different field of study. And because I know a lot of Filipinos who want to work or live out of the country, I was adamant in staying. There were times I’d go against the flow for the sake of defying social norms.
Many times I planned to run away from home. But considering the possible consequences, especially in my studies, I resorted to postponing it until I graduated and had my own income.
My rebellious attitude wasn’t apparent because I was studious and goal-oriented. My life revolved only around schoolwork and the most important thing in the world for me was my grades. I prioritized learning and personal development over building relationships. I preferred studying and reading more than spending time with family and friends. I even considered interpersonal skills as the least important skill needed for success. Because of this, I found it difficult to empathize with others.
I was a perfectionist and attentive to details. And I imposed my standards to my family. I easily get angry when things are not orderly or when chores are not done the way I wanted. I was blunt, inconsiderate and insensitive. And I became more assertive when I started working.
During the latter half of college, my usual drive to study waned. One time, my friends and I skipped classes to go out of town. In other occasions, whenever our professor in a boring minor subject was late, a close friend and I would skip class, buy snacks, spread out some university newspapers on the football field, and spend the night having picnic, chatting and stargazing. At the end of the semester, we both got an FA (Failure due to Absences). I had to retake the subject I dislike! What foolishness and lack of foresight.
Submission to God’s Reign
My rebellion didn’t stop at teen. I’m still very much a sinner. Whenever I sin, I rebel against a holy God.
Rebellion is opposition to authority. The ultimate authority is God, Creator of all the heavens and the earth. The LORD is God, and there is no other; apart from Him there is no God. Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God.
Rebellion is against God’s rule and control over all things. Man always resists God’s rule because he wants to rule over himself. Man wants to be his own god and be able to do what seems right in his own eyes. He wants to be free to do everything he desires without accountability to the Creator and His laws. This is the fallenness of every man, not wanting to submit to God’s will but following one’s own desires. This is man’s rebellion.
Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the heart. (Proverbs 21:2)Tweet
Whenever we choose to take control of our own lives, we do what we think is right and best for us and fail to realize that our knowledge is limited and what we see is only here and now. We fail to recognize the truth that the Lord is God. He alone is sovereign and all-knowing. He knows infinitely more than what we know and sees from beginning to end. Therefore, the only wise thing to do is to have Him take control of our lives. His plans for us are for our welfare and not for evil.
Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the LORD and turn away from evil. (Proverbs 3:6-7)Tweet
Power in Meekness
After graduation, I soon found myself in the corporate world. My character in youth molded me into young adulthood and I brought with me those characteristics I thought would be helpful for my career advancement. I was driven and didn’t want anything to hinder me from achieving my goals.
The first time I got employed in a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) company, we had a Communications and Culture Trainer whose character made a significant impact on how I view Christianity.
He introduced himself as a Christian. He didn’t share a lot about his religion, I don’t know whether religion and politics were prohibited topics, but he often shared his life story.
He shared his life prior to being a Christian. He told us about the sins he committed especially to his wife and his family. He told us how he lived his life before. It was quite surprising and unbelievable to hear. First, he doesn’t know us personally and would train us only for a few weeks yet he entrusted us with his life story. Second, he was our superior yet he presented himself in meekness and vulnerability by sharing even the sins he committed. Third, what made the most impact on me was the man he was talking about was a completely different person! The man he described was vile but the person talking to us was gentle, kind, humble, considerate and unpretentious.
He also told us about his son Mark Welson Chua. He was a student of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) who was brutally murdered for exposing anomalies in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) unit of the university. I think it was all over the news when it happened although I first heard it from our trainer. He never spoke any grievances toward anyone or any institution. He only recounted the events of his son’s death. There’s a video on YouTube about this news and in the interview, his wife questioned Welson why he hugged one of the convicted murderers of his son and forgave him. The offender also couldn’t believe he was forgiven by Mark’s father.
I remember the time when we visited Welson at the hospital a month after our training. We saw him standing in the hallway. Everyone immediately went to him, greeted him, hugged him, comforted him. I didn’t know how to comfort a sick person. I didn’t know what to say, what to do or how to empathize so I stood a few steps away looking at him. In my heart I was sorry for him and I sincerely hoped and prayed for his healing and recovery. But I didn’t know how to put those into words.
When he noticed I just stood there, he approached me, quickly hugged me and patted me at the back. Oh my gosh! I was embarrassed and amazed at the same time! He was sick yet he was still thinking of other people? For most, my action would have been taken as apathy but he responded with concern and humility despite his condition. He did for me what I was supposed to do for him!
I’m unsure whether we were his last batch of trainees because he didn’t recover from his sickness and passed away 3 months after our training.
Prior to this, I often hear people describing Christians as the “Alive, Alive” group. On Sundays, we’d hear them sing in the covered court of our subdivision and I’d picture them singing and dancing “Alive, Alive” with hands raised, swaying from side to side to the beat of the music.
Before my maternal grandmother passed away, she sternly warned me not to change religion. This confused me because of the timing of her advice and also because it had never crossed my mind. There was no reason for me to change religion.
It was because of our trainer’s life story and character that made me view Christianity differently. It made me consider that they may have reliable character contrary to what others say and therefore may have valid claims in their beliefs about God, Jesus, and the Bible. Almost 2 years later, this paved the way for me to ask questions and seek help from Christians.
By God’s Grace Alone
There’s a popular Tagalog song in the ’90s that says: “Gusto kong bumait pero diko magawa.” I want to be good but I can’t, which implies difficulty in achieving it.
It is indeed impossible to be good in God’s standard on our own strength. I don’t think our trainer had a complete change of character out of his own discipline and willpower. I’ve met and talked to a lot of religious leaders in school and in church but his gentleness and kindness was different; he was sincere.
It isn’t in man’s nature to be good. On the contrary, it is in man’s nature to sin and rebel against God.
The Bible says: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” Everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.
And when people sin, they earn what sin pays—death. This death means punishment with eternal destruction; forever separated from the Lord and from His glorious power. Man is condemned to eternal death and punishment because of sin.
But because of God’s unfailing love for us, He made a way to reconcile us back to Him. God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, humbled Himself, came into the world, lived a holy life and willingly sacrificed Himself on the Cross as payment for our sins. So that everyone who believes in Jesus and trusts in His sacrifice on the Cross as payment for sins shall have eternal life.
We cannot save ourselves by being good because God’s standard is perfect holiness and that is fulfilled by Jesus Christ alone. It is for this reason that Christ came into the world. For if keeping the law (following God’s commandments out of our own strength) could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.
Therefore, a person’s obedience to God is only because of God’s grace not because of one’s own goodness or willpower.
God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. (Ephesians 2:8-9)Tweet
Watch out for next week’s story: Why I became a Christian.
In this 4-part story series about my life story; a story of God’s faithfulness and mercy.