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His Election Polarized the Philippines. Now Evangelicals Are Repairing Burned Bridges. | Information & Reporting – ChristianityToday.com

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Closing month’s presidential election within the Philippines used to be deemed its maximum divisive to this point. As the rustic inaugurates its new chief this week, are evangelicals able to transport ahead?
The 2022 race within the 7,000-plus-island archipelago raised the everyday election acrimony to new heights, together with amongst Christians who championed the 2 main applicants.
Brethren dissolved their friendships over political debates, mutually condemning every different for supposedly casting the way forward for the country into spoil by way of the number of their most popular candidate.
Church buildings reported how participants left Biblical studies teams or even their native fellowships because of perceptions that their pastors or church officers counseled “presidentiables”—presidential hopefuls—they antagonistic.
With president-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. officially taking his oath June 30, evangelicals have begun to come back to a spot of mutual working out and feature dedicated to hope for the brand new chief without reference to whether or not they voted for him.
Pastors, for his or her phase, are channeling the momentum across the election to missional efforts to bless the rustic. They’ve discouraged participants from burning bridges over politics.
“The church, your group, is your circle of relatives. It’ll at all times be there for you in some way that your candidate will not be,” mentioned Dennis Sy, senior pastor of Victory Makati, a location of probably the most greatest multisite church buildings within the Philippines. “Now that the elections are over, we’re going to adventure in combination whether or not we voted for that candidate or no longer.”
Marcos, nicknamed “Bongbong” and referred to as BBM, has held quite a lot of political workplaces, maximum lately a senatorial put up. He’s additionally the son and namesake of the well-known Philippine strongman who dominated the rustic for greater than twenty years earlier than being toppled by way of the Folks Energy Revolution in 1986. The senior Marcos’s generation has been synonymous with the lack of democratic freedoms, human rights violations, and big graft and corruption.
Filipino electorate who antagonistic his run have been involved that the more youthful Marcos would convey again the ones darkish days. Worse, he may erase or rewrite the historical past of martial legislation that noticed hundreds killed or imprisoned with out prison due procedure. In the meantime, supporters noticed in him a go back to the order and financial balance of his father’s time period.
Neatly conscious about the shadow of controversy looming over his candidacy, Marcos requested electorate to pass judgement on him “no longer by way of my ancestors, however by way of my movements.”
Whilst there have been different presidential applicants—together with world-renowned boxer and dedicated Christian Manny Pacquiao—Marcos’s major opponent used to be outgoing vp Leni Robredo. Robredo used to be observed as an alternative choice to the standard corrupt flesh presser (or trapo, because of this “filth rag” in Filipino).
Her supporters hailed her loss of association with any political dynasty, scandal-free govt report, and the 16-hour-a-day paintings ethic with which she served her constituents. Detractors identified her loss of govt enjoy in addition to a veneer of “elitism” that disconnected her from her financially suffering countrymen, virtually 1 / 4 of whom are mired in poverty, slightly managing to eke out the $240 a month had to feed a circle of relatives of 5.
Many that supported Robredo noticed her because the transparent selection between a just right and unhealthy candidate. One Christian instructor who spoke to CT were given engaged in a door-to-door marketing campaign for Robredo, one thing outdoor her convenience zone. (She requested to stay unnamed out of worry of reprisal since her group rents land from the federal government.)
She introduced fabrics from the subdivisions to the shanties, discussing the problems with any person who would concentrate. She mentioned she wasn’t afraid to percentage her place with acquaintances who have been at the Marcos aspect as “it used to be in point of fact performed within the spirit of authentic love for them and the rustic.”
In the meantime, Rem Pinero, an In a foreign country Filipino Employee based totally within the Heart East, disengaged from Robredo supporters who he concept would argue with him about his beef up for Marcos. “Tensions have been top all over the marketing campaign duration,” he appears again. “Some Christians had forgotten what it used to be to turn into Christlike.”
In a foreign country employees like Pinero totaled over 1.5 million registered electorate within the presidential election; they have been in a position to forged their ballots in particular person in embassies and consulates or by way of mail.
When political messages got here up within the Biblical studies teams at his Filipino church within the United Arab Emirates, he steered individuals to reply with out anger. “Recognize” for the person and their selection used to be his perpetual chorus, even to fellow Marcos allies who wondered why his personal two grown youngsters have been balloting for Robredo.
“My youngsters requested me why I supported Marcos, and I mentioned so with out protecting, apologizing, or being antagonistic,” mentioned Pinero, a widower. “We simply agreed to admire every different’s evaluations and issues of view. There have been no arguments at house or anything else breaking out of anger.”
Describing himself as a Marcos “supporter, however no longer a enthusiast,” Pinero selected his candidate as a result of he felt that he had the precise mix of self-discipline and positivity: “Not like others who simply saved hyping the detrimental and criticizing the opposite applicants, he stayed above all of it. … That perspective can convey in regards to the cohesion that our nation wishes. When other folks inquire from me why I may just vote for him given his circle of relatives historical past, I will not pass judgement on the son or any kid by way of the sins of the daddy or the mother or father.”
Now that Marcos has received in a landslide victory, Pinero advises his buddies on each side of the political divide to succeed in out to one another. He additionally admonishes his pro-Marcos buddies to not gloat.
“After I meet Christians who’re Robredo supporters, I nonetheless deal with them the similar approach, like not anything has modified, and that we’re nonetheless buddies and brethren,” he mentioned. “Had Robredo received, I might have sought after them to increase the similar courtesy to me.”
Sy at Victory Makati advocates relationships over politics. He sees the final elections as each “follow and a problem for the church to reply in probably the most biblical approach and no longer burn bridges.”
The cohesion of the Christian leaders regardless of their political and theological variations is paramount for Bishop Dan Balais, nationwide chairman of the Intercessors for the Philippines (IFP). Balais regularly coordinates with leaders on the Philippine Council of Evangelical Church buildings (PCEC) and the Philippines for Jesus Motion (PJM).
He describes the 3 large organizations as corresponding to the pillars of the Philippine Christian church: PCEC’s center of attention is at the pastoral and educating ministries; PJM is apostolic; and IFP leans towards the prophetic and intercessory.
Till the COVID-19 lockdowns, the bishops and their pastors were assembly ceaselessly yearly since 2012 for the Palawan Leaders’ Summit. They put on covenant rings “to remind us that regardless of our variations, we can no longer permit [our relationship and the unity] to damage,” says Balais. “The elections are over, we had other applicants, however we mentioned that we can no longer break away every different.”
In line with Balais, many church buildings based totally in Mindanao—the 3rd major island within the Philippines—voted for Marcos. His working mate and vice-president-elect, Sara Duterte-Carpio, used to be the previous mayor of the area’s Davao Town. Some Christian teams selected Pacquiao it appears as a result of his Christian religion. IFP, which is hooked up to 7,000 native church buildings, brazenly counseled Robredo. So did Christ the Dwelling Stone Fellowship (CLSF), a community of 500 church buildings, led by way of Balais as senior pastor.
“We don’t have bloc balloting,” Balais clarifies, referring to 1 political workout generally performed by way of a homegrown spiritual group within the Philippines, the Iglesia ni Cristo, the place the primary shepherd chooses the presidentiable that every one participants will unanimously vote for. “Our participants are nonetheless unfastened to make a choice their candidate.”
IFP’s endorsement of Robredo used to be extra of a “discernment. Now we have to choose and lead the folks in making that selection,” continues Balais. “Those we recommend have been inspired to us by way of the Lord. They are going to no longer essentially win. In the event that they lose, it does no longer essentially imply we’re unsuitable. We’re status at the theory.”
IFP’s and CLSF’s backing of Robredo used to be a protracted and prayerful procedure that began with the 2 organizations creating management standards to lead their balloting flock for the 2022 elections. It culminated of their alliance with 1Sambayan, a “wide coalition of democratic forces” that introduced an overly an identical electorate’ information.
When the opposite evangelical teams who to begin with joined 1Sambayan in the end pulled out, IFP stayed as a result of Balais believed that the Lord sought after them to honor their covenant.
“When 1Sambayanan supported Robredo, we had the similar standards: personality, competence, and skill to steer,” says Balais. “However take away the covenant, which is our foundation, and we can nonetheless have a look at her.”
So far as the standard place that the church should stay impartial politically, Balais candidly states, “IFP has crossed that line.” Its ministries of intercession and prophecy are actively searching for what God is pronouncing to the country at a specific cut-off date, praying for it, and performing accordingly.
Now within the election aftermath, something both sides can agree on is praying for the president-elect.
Taking a web page out of the onerous courses realized by way of Rehoboam, Pinero’s prayer for Marcos could be very explicit: “That he be surrounded by way of simply, truthful, and superb advisers who’ve a real love for the rustic.”
To this point, maximum of Marcos’s appointments of officers into his cupboard, particularly the finance, central financial institution, public works and highways, and industry were in most cases welcomed by way of the folks, economists, the trade group, and international assume tanks. (At a up to date IFP provider, Balais admits that the appointments were “just right.” Previous to that, he advised CT, “What’s God about to do? Can he use Marcos? We by no means know. All of us agreed to hope for him.”)
In the meantime, the Christian instructor who campaigned for Robredo says that she has a “honest need and openness to be confirmed unsuitable about [Marcos’s] functions.” She continues to hope and speedy for the brand new president and his circle of relatives.
Sy addresses the lingering worry of the go back of martial legislation below Marcos, which he mentioned used to be a speculative fear. “Christians must know their position,” the pastor mentioned. “Prayer is the principle reaction to each disaster and state of affairs.”
The election has additionally reinvigorated plans for evangelism, church expansion, and the discipleship of a complete country into righteousness in all spheres Christians inhabit, together with {the marketplace} and governance.
In accordance with prophecy, Balais holds that the Philippines should turn into a “country of Davids”—ethical individuals who love righteousness—as a prerequisite for God to lift up an similarly righteous, ethical, and God-fearing president.
“How do you do this? In the course of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which is a big a part of evangelism,” he mentioned. “Folks input the dominion of God, are born once more, are taught the Phrase of God, and their personality is discipled.”
To Sy, transformation too can come about by way of pleasant the church’s venture of being a mild to the sector. As a tender pastor in San Juan years in the past, he rallied his church to offer reduction to sufferers of flooding whilst running with town corridor.
“The vast majority of the volunteers have been from the church,” recollects Sy. “The mayor and the vice mayor each noticed this. That used to be an open door for us to minister to our native officers. They noticed that we had no schedule.”
The enjoy and others adore it have led him to conclude, “Partnering with the native govt is one thing that each church must do. The church can’t be partisan. If I get started taking aspects, will I’ve the placement to minister the gospel to all, it doesn’t matter what aspect they selected? Daniel labored below 3 administrations as a result of he by no means went political.”
The Christian instructor recollects a meals seller who advised her, “You’re simply right here with us if there’s a marketing campaign. After the marketing campaign, you’re all of the identical—you’ll simply vanish.” That change gave her a more potent get to the bottom of to paintings along with her Christian group to “pursue actions that may supply concrete reduction for our less-fortunate countrymen, whether or not they voted for Robredo or no longer.”
The election aftermath simply may have damaged new floor for planting the seeds of the gospel and bringing social transformation. Christians who may were disenchanted by way of the presidential consequence are experiencing a take-heed call, in particular amongst younger other folks, who compose greater than 40 p.c of the inhabitants.
“They went out to the streets to marketing campaign—no longer such a lot for Robredo or for Marcos however as a result of their love for the country,” mentioned Sy, who’s 40.
Victory Makati has a campus ministry within the public colleges to “achieve a era of younger other folks and younger leaders most commonly dwelling in poverty. Thru that, you’re affecting exchange already.” On the identical time, Sy concedes that Victory’s effort in reworking the country, which used to be began by way of the primary church greater than 30 years in the past, is “a protracted recreation.”
Balais, who helped delivery IFP and CLSF additionally within the Nineteen Eighties, similarly foresees that the elevating of a “country of Davids is for the long-term.” The 69-year-old bishop provides, “Confidently, we will nonetheless be alive when that occurs.”
Within the intervening time, with a brand new president taking the helm, Balais advises his brethren, without reference to their electoral selection, “Allow us to pray for God’s mercy, which triumphs over judgment. Allow us to keep the cohesion of the Spirit. Make ourselves a prisoner of peace. Above all, have fervent love for every different, as love covers a large number of sins.”
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The Friend Who Sticks Closer than a Brother

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The Friend Who Sticks Closer than a Brother

Embracing True Friendship: The Friend Who Sticks Closer Than a Brother

Friendship is a valuable asset that enriches our lives by providing companionship, support, and a shoulder to cry on. But have you ever had a buddy who goes above and beyond—someone who remains closer than a brother? In a world where relationships can be fickle, a friend who sticks by us through thick and thin is a rare and priceless gift.

More Than Just Blood Ties

Consider the tie between siblings, which is based on blood and shared history. Consider a buddy who is more than just a family member. “One who has untrustworthy friends soon comes to ruin,” says Proverbs 18:24 (NIV), “but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

This verse describes a friendship that goes beyond basic conditions. It’s a bond founded on trust, loyalty, and real concern for one another.

Continuous Support

Consider a buddy who is present not only during happy times but also during difficult times. This type of friend is unconcerned about changing circumstances or personal gain. They provide their presence, encouragement, and steadfast support.

Jesus expresses the core of such friendship in John 15:13 (NIV): “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. This selfless affection serves as the foundation for a lasting connection.

Journeys Together

Consider a friend you’ve shared many stages of life with—the highs, the lows, and everything in between. This shared experience forges a link that extends beyond surface-level exchanges. The value of companionship is brilliantly captured in Ecclesiastes 4:9–10 (NIV): “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.”

A friend who sticks closer than a brother is someone who goes beside us through life’s ups and downs, lending a solid hand and an ear to listen.

A Mirror of God’s Love

As a symbol of God’s love for us, consider the buddy who sticks closer than a brother. God Himself offers an unbroken, unchanging, and everlasting companionship. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” says the Bible in Romans 8:38–39.

God’s love is the ultimate paradigm of true friendship—a love that is not conditional but remains faithful regardless of what happens.

Conclusion: Value true friendship.

A friend who sticks closer to you than a sibling is a treasure to be treasured. This type of friendship is founded on love, trust, and mutual care rather than convenience or shared interests. May we seek to be that sort of friend to others in our lives, just as God offers us His unfailing love.

In a world where relationships can be fleeting, let us create friendships that will endure. Let us be the sort of friends who are present in both joy and sadness, who offer unconditional support, and who mirror God’s unfailing love. We are reminded of the beauty of true friendship, which clings closer than a brother, as we welcome and cherish these unique and valuable ties.

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The Just God

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The Just God

The Just God: The Divine Balance of Justice and Mercy

The concept of justice is intertwined with the fabric of human society. We seek justice, responsibility, and reparation for wrongs done. But have you ever pondered a God who is not only just but also perfectly just? The Just God is a lighthouse of truth and righteousness, providing a profound awareness of justice and kindness that transcends human comprehension.

Justice in Pursuit

Consider a world where wrongdoers go unpunished and the disadvantaged have no recourse. The pursuit of justice is a natural human goal that reflects a feeling of rightness and order. And if we as humans value justice, how much more should the Creator of the universe, who is completely just?

According to Deuteronomy 32:4 (NIV), “He is the rock; his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. He is a loyal God who does no wrong, who is straight and just. This verse reveals God’s character, which is characterized by unwavering justice.

Justice and Mercy in Balance

Consider yourself in front of a judge who holds you accountable for every action and decision you make. Imagine that same judge showing mercy and giving you a second opportunity despite the evidence against you. The just God is kind as well as just.

This delicate balance is captured in Psalm 103:10–11 (NIV): “He does not treat us as our sins deserve, nor does He repay us according to our iniquities. For his love for people who fear him is as high as the skies are above the earth. God’s justice is balanced by his unending love and kindness.

The Redemption of Justice

Consider a debt that you will never be able to repay—a debt of mistakes and wrongs that weigh heavy on your soul. In His perfect justice, the just God provides a solution. God provides a mechanism for justice to be served and redemption to be offered through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” says Romans 3:23–24 (NIV), “and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. This is an example of justice being met via the redemptive act of Christ’s sacrifice.

A Call to Justice

Consider a society in which justice is not simply a notion but a way of life. In our interactions with others, the just God calls us to exemplify justice. Micah 6:8 (NIV) states unequivocally, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. What does the Lord expect of you? Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.”

Living justly entails treating people with fairness, compassion, and respect, as the character of the just God requires.

Finishing: Adoring the Just God

The Just God asks us to comprehend the breadth of His justice—a justice that supports truth, requires accountability, and strikes a balance between mercy and justice. God’s justice and mercy merge in the person of Jesus Christ, offering us redemption and restoration.

May we turn to the just God as our ultimate standard as we traverse a world that frequently grapples with issues of fairness. May we seek His wisdom and counsel in order to live justly and treat others with love and justice. We find not only a paradigm of perfect justice but also an invitation to experience the transformative power of His kindness when we embrace the Just God.

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The Pleasure of Serving Others: A Pathway to Achievement

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The Joy of Serving Others: A Pathway to Fulfillment

The Pleasure of Serving Others: A Highway to Contentment

Have you ever ever felt the nice and cozy glow that effects from lending a serving to hand to a stranger, the enjoyment that lasts for days after the act of kindness? That emotion offers a way of the pride of serving to others. The straightforward act of serving to can give us a sense of function and pleasure in contrast to the rest in a society that incessantly pushes us to place our consideration on ourselves.

The Want to Serve

Believe a society the place everybody labored to fortify the lives of people of their instant neighborhood. The need to lend a serving to hand, proportion a load, and supply comfort is on the core of carrier. The instance used to be established through Jesus Himself when he stated, “For even the Son of Guy didn’t come to be served, however to serve, and to provide his lifestyles as a ransom for plenty of.” (NIV, Mark 10:45)

Serving others is extra than just a nice deed; it is a way to emulate the compassion and love that Christ proven for us.

Discovering Pleasure in Selfless Giving

Believe spending time with the aged or going to a neighborhood refuge to hear their stories and cause them to really feel essential. Those tiny acts of kindness won’t appear to be a lot, however they be capable to make any person’s day higher, create relationships, and toughen a sense of group.

A better feeling of pleasure emerges after we set aside our personal issues and be aware of the wishes of others. The Bible admonishes us, “Every of you can use no matter present you’ve gotten won to serve others, as trustworthy stewards of God’s grace in its more than a few paperwork.” (NIV) 1 Peter 4:10 We specific the particular talents God has given us through serving others, and it’s in those deeds of carrier that we discover authentic pleasure.

Have an effect on Unmeasurable

Take into consideration the impact if all of us realized to experience serving to others. If we take a bit spoil from our tense schedules to lend a hand a neighbor, supply a sympathetic ear, or donate cash to a reason we reinforce. Small acts of kindness have the facility to unfold, sparking a sequence response of generosity and optimistic exchange.

In step with the NIV translation of Matthew 25:40, Jesus stated, “Actually I inform you, no matter you probably did for this sort of least of those brothers and sisters of mine, you probably did for me.” No longer simplest can we fortify the lives of other folks we serve, however we additionally perform Jesus’ command to like and deal with the ones round us.

Development Relationships and Connections

Believe the sensation of camaraderie that comes from cooperating with others to reach a shared purpose. Folks come in combination via carrier, growing ties and friendships that differently won’t have took place. It serves as a reminder that we’re all part of a broader group, and that group would possibly take pleasure in the acts we do.

Serving others permits us to peer the arena from many angles and to realize the demanding situations and victories of other folks round us. Our lives are enriched and {our relationships} are deepened through this sensitivity.

Conclusion: Discovering Contentment Via Carrier

Every people has a skill that is able to be opened: the pleasure of serving to others. It serves as a reminder that our lives are meant to be about extra than just our personal pursuits; they’re an opportunity to fortify the lives of others.

Let’s thus embody the pride of serving to others, if it is by means of deeds of kindness, volunteering, or simply being conscious about their wishes. The easy act of serving would possibly supply mild and hope in a global that every so often turns out overwhelming. As we emulate Christ and prolong ourselves in love, we no longer simplest exchange the lives of others but additionally revel in a deep feeling of success and enjoyment that overflows into our personal hearts.

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