Back in sixth grade, I was bullied. It was the kind of bullying that could make someone consider suicide, and while I don’t remember if I considered it back then, I knew it was an experience that scarred me deeply.
I carried the grudge ’til I entered high school. I was classmates again with some of my bullies, and what I did to get back at them was to make them think they can count on me to give them answers to homeworks, quizzes, and major exams, and then leave them hanging at the last minute.
It kind of worked: they befriended me, became good to me, and I gave them an answer or two. When it came to a point that they already relied on me too much, iiwan ko sila sa ere. No wonder some of them thought I was scary back then; they said I was silent but deadly.
In sophomore year I became best friends with one of the bad asses in class. I was so rebellious, so much so that it was easy for people to hate me. But because of my best friend, no one went against me. I was invincible.
Whenever I recall those carefree years, I cringe at my own hypocrisy. I was acting like that–in a Christian school, no less–while serving in various ministries in my church. Every Sunday I wept bitterly during worship to show my churchmates how ‘holy’ and ‘religious’ I am, only to have my horns grow back during weekdays.
I was, what they call, a carnal Christian. And I celebrated it. I hated too many people: I smiled sweetly in front of their faces, but I called them names behind their backs. Typically evil. Typically hypocritical. Such was my old self.
And to think all of that happened because I was victimized by the culture of hate back in my sixth grade.
Thank goodness the Lord changed me. The change was gradual, and it wasn’t at all easy. I got pruned and battered and bruised because when the conviction of the Lord came, I just had to say yes and amen. I no longer cared about what it would cost me: cool friends, pseudo-popularity, and security. All I knew was that I can’t stay in hate anymore, because I learned that it eats you up and takes over your system. The hate world is a world where everyone’s pointing fingers at everyone, always blaming someone else; always someone else, and never the self.
And I can’t afford to stay in such a world, because I had Christ in me. And the Christ in me said that He loved me, regardless of–even when all I did was hate. How can one experience a love like that and not be moved by it? How can an undeserving soul hate again once he/she experienced Christ’s overwhelming love?
To love even when everyone chooses to hate is something only Christ can pull off independently. We, as Christians, are called to be Christlike, which means we are to love the way Jesus loved. But on our own, it’s never easy. There will be days when people will be so easy to hate. There will be times when they will push your patience and long-suffering to the limits.
That’s why we need Jesus–not just as an example, but as the very driving force of what we do. Think about it: we’re not called Christians for nothing. The world’s eyes are upon us, and every move we make is monitored by the doubtful, and those who are full of hate. They want to test how long it will take ’til we contradict ourselves. How far can our faith take us? How far can Christ’s love keep us from doing what everybody else is already doing?
They’re really curious: How different are we Christians to the rest of the world anyway?
And don’t you just want to show them how great our God actually is?
It pains me to see Christians who praise God and then curse other people under the same breath. More so, when Christians hate their fellow believers. Jesus Christ did not die for a culture like this to begin from the Christians themselves. He died so we may live, and we may live in love. Always in love. But our standards have gone down, we have let our emotions take over what Christ should be the master of.
It’s time to go back to Love Himself, so that we can love again. Because for me, there’s nothing more disgusting than hypocrisy, and a forgiven Christian who hates in return.
“This, then, is how you should pray:
‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’”