Lo que más importa

“Lo que más importa es cómo te ves a ti mismo.” Al revisar el perfil de un hermano de la iglesia encontré esa imagen. Suena bien, ¿verdad? ¡No importa lo que piensan los demás de mí! ¡Yo sé que soy buena gente y eso es lo que importa!

 Creo que como cristianos podemos fácilmente caer en la trampa de pensar que “lo que más importa es cómo te ves a ti mismo.” La escritura deja claro que ese tipo de pensamiento es engaño de Satanás. El hombre, sin Dios, no es capaz de reconocer su propia maldad. Necesitamos conocer a Dios y Su plan para nuestras vidas para darnos cuenta de nuestras fallas.

Uno de las artimañas más empleadas por Satanás es el orgullo. Ese pecado no nos permite vernos a nosotros mismos como Dios nos ve. Si no tomamos en cuenta la Palabra de Dios, fácilmente podríamos vernos como perfectos, o con muy pocos defectos. Podríamos creernos muy fuertes cuando en realidad somos débiles.

Cuando Dios nos dice que somos hijos de él (1 Juan 3), podemos dejar a un lado la percepción que tenemos de nosotros mismos. No hace falta un espejo ni un psicólogo para ayudarnos a descubrir quienes somos y de qué somos capaces. Somos hijos del Rey. Si es así, realmente no importa si somos fuertes o no porque Dios muestra su gran poder en nuestra debilidad. No importa si somos inteligentes porque nuestro Padre Dios es el autor de toda inteligencia y la sabiduría viene de él.

Mensajes como “lo que más importa es cómo te ves a ti mismo” son sencillamente filosofías humanitas y por lo tanto, no provienen de Dios ni de Su Palabra. Deberíamos cuidarnos. Suena bien, ¿verdad? Pero no está bien.

Lo que más importa es cómo Dios te ve.

Authentic Living

Duplicity is one of the greatest threats to the moral fiber of our society. We see it everyday: sports heroes caught doing drugs, exemplary actors and actresses caught up in crime and politicians caught telling lies and stealing from the poor. While many have been caught, many others are yet to be discovered. This duplicity, or inauthentic living has become so common in our society today that many are unable to recognize it and its consequences.

 

In the middle of such deception and deceit, many people cry out, “Where is God? How can there be so much evil in this world? If God would truly the Ruler of the universe, why does He allow so many bad things to happen?”

 

In my ministry I find myself having this conversation on a regular basis. My response usually contains an explanation of man’s free will and the reality that man has pushed God to the outskirts of society, rejecting His plan for life on earth.

 

As Christians we must realize that the only way to show a better way is to live authentically, without duplicity. The simplicity of the Christian faith allows our yes to be yes, and our no to be no. We do not need to make vain promises nor do we need to dazzle people with our eloquence. Yet, what we need to live is a holistic life, in that what we say and do, go together hand and hand, in step with our Lord and Savior.

 

If we do not live like Jesus, if we refuse to be God’s hands and feet on earth, then the world will have no choice but to reject God and His perfect plan. Without contact with authentic living, the future of our world seems rather bleak. Let us, then, live as Christ, freely choosing to do the will of our Father. May we say with Jesus, “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Guarding Against Prejudice

One of the greatest challenges the church faces is prejudice. We think that because we are Christians, saved by the blood of Christ that we no longer suffer from prejudging people. The truth is, whether we grew up in the church or not, our society teaches us to be prejudice. However, this is not what God desires! Henri Nouwen has an interesting reflection on guarding ourselves against prejudice.

“One of the hardest spiritual tasks is to live without prejudices. Sometimes we aren’t even aware how deeply rooted our prejudices are. We may think that we relate to people who are different from us in colour, religion, sexual orientation, or lifestyle as equals, but in concrete circumstances our spontaneous thoughts, uncensored words, and knee-jerk reactions often reveal that our prejudices are still there.

“Strangers, people different than we are, stir up fear, discomfort, suspicion, and hostility. They make us lose our sense of security just by being ‘other.’ Only when we fully claim that God loves us in an unconditional way and look at ‘those other persons’ as equally loved can we begin to discover that the great variety in being human is an expression of the immense richness of God’s heart. Then the need to prejudge people can gradually disappear.”

God wants us to be free of prejudice because it keeps us from seeing people as God sees them. Let us make a concerted effort to avoid prejudging others and ask the Holy Spirit to constantly remind us of Christ’s love for all of humanity, despite their differences.

Here is another reflection from Henri Nouwen: “We spend an enormous amount of energy making up our minds about other people. Not a day goes by without somebody doing or saying something that evokes in us the need to form an opinion about him or her. We hear a lot, see a lot, and know a lot. The feeling that we have to sort it all out in our minds and make judgments about it can be quite oppressive.

“The desert fathers said that judging others is a heavy burden, while being judged by others is a light one. Once we can let go of our need to judge others, we will experience an immense inner freedom. Once we are free from judging, we will be also free for mercy. Let’s remember Jesus’ words: ‘Do not judge, and you will not be judged’ (Matthew 7:1).”

Love: Our Motivation for Giving

How many people do you know who give to the poor but honestly do not care much for them? How often do we give to good causes without being emotionally involved? Is it possible that we give to the church and to the Lord out of mere obligation instead of  love?

Amy Carmichael, an Irish missionary to India once wrote that “You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.”

In our churches, we do not need to teach giving, nor should we teach our obligation to give. We should preach God and his love! If we truly knew God and understood His love, we would be truly transformed by His love.

Once we are touched by the love of God, giving will be our natural response! We will no longer give alms to the poor because of social virtue nor to the church because we know we should. We will love and give because God loves and gives. In our sacrificial giving, we will become like Christ (Ephesians 5:1).

Reflecting God’s Perfect Love

God’s love for us is everlasting. That means that God’s love for us existed before we were born and will exist after we have died. It is an eternal love in which we are embraced. Living a spiritual life calls us to claim that eternal love for ourselves so that we can live our temporal loves – for parents, brothers, sisters, teachers, friends, spouses, and all people who become part of our lives – as reflections or refractions of God’s eternal love. No fathers or mothers can love their children perfectly. No husbands or wives can love each other with unlimited love. There is no human love that is not broken somewhere.

When our broken love is the only love we can have, we are easily thrown into despair, but when we can live our broken love as a partial reflection of God’s perfect, unconditional love, we can forgive one another our limitations and enjoy together the love we have to offer.

Henri Nouwen.

Confession & the Cross of Christ

“Without the cross the Discipline of confession would be only psychologically therapeutic. But it is so much more. It involves an objective change in our relationship with God and a subjective change in us. It is a means of healing and transforming the inner spirit.”

“Confession is a difficult Discipline for us because we all too often view the believing community as a fellowship of saints before we see it as a fellowship of sinners.”

“The Discipline of confession brings an end to pretense. God is calling into being a Church that can openly confess its frail humanity and know the forgiving and empowering graces of Christ. Honesty leads to confession, and confession leads to change. May God give grace to the Church once again to recover the Discipline of confession.” Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline.

 

“Anybody who lives beneath the Cross and who has discerned in the Cross of Jesus the utter wickedness of all men and of his own heart will find there is no sin that can ever be alien to him. Anybody who has once been horrified by the dreadfulness of his own sin that nailed Jesus to the Cross will no longer be horrified by the even the rankest sins of a brother.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together.

 

Friends as Signposts

We need friends. Friends guide us, care for us, confront us in love, console us in times of pain. Although we speak of “making friends,” friends cannot be made. Friends are free gifts from God. But God gives us the friends we need when we need them if we fully trust in God’s love.

Friends cannot replace God. They have limitations and weaknesses like we have. Their love is never faultless, never complete. But in their limitations they can be signposts on our journey toward the unlimited and unconditional love of God. Let’s enjoy the friends God has sent on our way.

Henri Nouwen.

Ser bendecidos para bendecir

La persona bendecida siempre bendice, y las personas quieren ser bendecidas. Este parece ser el caso por doquiera que uno vaya. Nadie recobra la vida a partir de maldiciones, rumores, acusaciones o culpas imputadas. Todo esto sucede demasiado a menudo a nuestro alrededor y sólo trae consigo oscuridad, destrucción y muerte. Como personas bendecidas, podemos caminar por este mundo y ofrecer bendiciones. Esto no exige demasiado esfuerzo, pues es algo que fluye de forma natural desde nuestro corazón. Cuando escuchamos en nuestro interior una voz que nos llama por nuestro propio nombre y nos bendice, la oscuridad deja de distraernos. La voz que nos llama ‘hijo amado’ nos dará palabras para bendecir a otros y revelarles que ellos no son menos bendecidos que nosotros.

Henri Nouwen, Life of the Beloved, 1992.