Love Is A Response, Nothing But…

by Nathan Chua

It all started with a Sunday service at Union Church of Manila.  The message of the pastor was about a long time Christian who had so much difficulty understanding what it meant to be one.  The pastor said that he can’t seem to get the whole point of being a follower of Christ.  He just needed to know that God loves him! 

We, like this man in the story many times do not get it too.  We simply have to experience the fact that God loves us.  It is not about us doing things to be good or Christian, but it is basically being loved and simply accepting that as a fact and taking it into heart.  Our job is simply to receive and bask in his love everyday.  If this is the case then we won’t have time doing anything else but to relax and enjoy life overflowing with love that can be shared.  

I also related this thought with a book that I happened to see entitled “Receiving Love.”  I had the blessing of being able to sit with Dr. Bruce Narramore, our visiting professor from Rosemead School of Psychology, and asked him what receiving love meant for him.  His simple answer was that, “Love is a response.”  We simply cannot do love, we can only respond to love.  He then reminded me of the verse in the Bible that says, “we love because he first loved us.”  And that response is what makes a whole world of difference.  Therein lies the meaning of Christianity–nothing but…

The Power To Say No

by Nathan Chua

I think most especially with Asians, the power to say no is often rarely heard of.  Whether you are at the giving or receiving end of a negative response, it feels alien to most of us.  No, has meant a person does not love the other party enough to accede to the request.  The result of this is relationships that are more motivated by guilt rather than by love.  Often resentment is expressed through backbiting.  You never really know what your relatives or friends are talking about when your back is turned.  All the resentment is poured out during small gatherings, meals, and short drives. 

I know this because I was in the past one of those who felt obligated to say yes all the time.  To say otherwise would mean falling out of grace.  I have also been at the other end of the stick.  I talked bitterly of others who did not live up to my expectations.  I certainly regret those days because if there is one thing that doesn’t take much to do, it is to criticize and find fault in others.  Appreciation was something I did not learn early in life. 

But I guess when we reflect about it more deeply, can there be true love without the freedom to say no?  If one loves me only when I say yes and hates me when I say no, then perhaps that is not love at all.  The reverse is also true.