Disclaimer: This post is written in Taglish (Tagalog and English) because it is primarily geared towards my countrymen. I apologize to my international readers.

The Pope is on his way to our country. If you’re a Filipino and you don’t know this, wait! What? With all the TV spots, shirts, newspaper articles, and commemorative memorabilia out on the mainstream, you still don’t know about this? Weh, di nga?

I write this not to talk about the Pope, his itinerary, or my opinions on the Roman Catholic church. This is for all the evangelical Christians in the Philippines. Hindi mo ba alam kung ano ang gagawin mo habang ang buong bansa ay aligaga sa pagsalubong sa Papa? Pwes, ito ay para sa iyo. Here’s my list of do’s and don’ts para sa mga susunod na araw.

DON’T stage a rally/protest/prayer gathering/evangelistic event/street preaching o kahit ano pang gusto mong itawag rito within the vicinity of the event.

I was enraged when I heard that during the feast of the Black Nazarene, a group of “christians” was attacked, their tarpaulins and other materials destroyed, and some of them physically hurt. Oo. Nagalit ako. Pero hindi sa mga deboto ng Nazareno na nanakit o nanira ng mga gamit nila kung hindi dito sa mga “kristiyano kuno” mismo. Bakit? Dahil wala sa lugar ang kanilang ginagawa.

If you want proof na nangyari talaga ito, click here for the Rappler report.

What do they want to achieve? Gusto lang ba nilang magpalaganap ng animosity between groups? Do they want Catholics to see Christians in a negative light? Gusto ba nilang gumawa ng malaking rift between the Roman Catholic church and Christians?

Now, I know they’d say that what they want is for the people who hear them to be saved. Pero is this an effective way to do that? Is it worth alienating everyone around? Is it worth making people believe that the God we, Christians, serve is a God who sets us on His enemies like a rabid pack of dobermans? If you want people who be open to the message of the Gospel, make the Gospel the focus. Ano nga ba ang Gospel? If there’s one verse that fully explains what Christ did for us, this is it.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:16, KJV

Yan, ha. King James Version pa yan. Nasaan diyan ang takutin mo ang mga tao para maligtas sila? Even God loved people so much that He sent His only Son to die on the cross. Hindi para lipulin ang lahat ng di maniniwala, kundi ibigin sila.

Hindi ko hinihinging tumigil tayo for five days. Ang sinasabi ko lang ay hindi ang Grandstand ang tamang lugar para rito. Igalang natin ang pananampalataya ng iba.

Look at what Paul says in his letter to the Romans:

Owe no man anything, but to love one another, for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

For this, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” “Thou shalt not kill,” “Thou shalt not steal,” “Thou shalt not bear false witness,” “Thou shalt not covet,” and if there be any other commandment, all are briefly comprehended in this saying, namely: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Romans 13:8-10

Paul writes that the law, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” is the law that covers all of the other laws. One can interpret this as this law trumps all the others. Ang kabuoan ng Scripture ay pag-ibig. At hindi pwedeng walang respetong kaakibat ng pagmamahal.

Ang pagiging mabuting kaibigan sa mga taong may ibang paniniwala ay pagmamahal pero ang pagbabanta sa kanila ng eternal ng damnation ay hindi. Bago tayo gumamit ng mga tarpaulin, signs, at megaphones, tanungin muna natin ang ating sarili, sabi nga ni Pastor Ed Lapiz, “Loving ba yan?”

DO conduct prayer meetings/Bible study sessions/church events as you always do in your own church or home.

Hindi naman ibig sabihin nang narito ang Papa e hihinto na rin tayo sa mga ginagawa natin. Keep praying as you always did just as Daniel did. Keep praying. Wala namang overdose sa panalangin e. Gawin mo lang sa tamang lugar. Did Daniel go in front of the entire kingdom habang nananalangin sila sa imahe ni Darius at doon nagsisisigaw? No. He prayed in his room as he always did.

The Scripture also says:

24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Hebrews 10:24-25, NIV

Kaya, by all means, go to church! Keep holding prayer meetings and Bible study sessions as you normally do. Wag lang tayong mag-fixate sa Papal visit bilang topic ng usapan.

DON’T flood social media sites with scare posts about the Roman Catholic Church, the Pope, and etc.

I know it’s tempting na ungkatin ang mga materials ng Chick Publications tungkol sa Roman Catholic Church at Papa. I once had a churchmate who kept those materials bound and lent it to everyone with eyes. I was about thirteen when I read them and I had nightmares for months. Did it turn me into a better representative of Christ?

No. It turned me into a scared kid who couldn’t set foot on a Catholic church for years. It made me uncomfortable talking about religion. I was wary of every amulet, every prayer book, every rosary that I saw. Paano ako magiging loving kung ganoon?

Kung totoo kang Kristiyano, you have to consider that everything you post can be read by almost everyone-Christians, Catholics, at iba pa. At kung magpopost o magcocomment ka ng nakakainsulto sa kanila, kahit pa gumamit ka ng verse o “mabuti” ang iyong intensyon, you risk losing your relationship with them.

Paano mo malalaman kung safe ang ipopost mo? Kung masasagot mo lahat ng ito ng hindi, gora.

  1. Kung Katoliko ba ako ma-ooffend ako rito?
  2. Ang tono ba ng post na ito ay may pagbabanta o pananakot?
  3. Hindi ka ba sigurado kung akma ang verse na kinakabit mo sa post mo? Ni-rerepost mo lang ba ito kahit hindi mo ganap na naiintindihan?

Kung kahit isa sa tatlong ito ay “oo” ang sagot mo, wag mo nalang ipost. Mas magandang manahimik na lang kaysa may masabi ka pang mali.

DO post positive and encouraging messages on social media as you always do.

Kristiyano ka, di ba? E di tungkulin natin magpalaganap ng pagmamahal sa kahit paanong paraan. This includes social media sites. Share your latest devo. Ask people about their prayer requests. Post pictures with you having fun fellowship with your discipleship group. This is how everyone should perceive Christians. Turn the image of a raving doberman into a cuddly St. Bernard.

This event, like any other event, is an opportunity to spread God’s love. Help make it one.

And that’s my two cents on that.

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