Why is Facebook so big today?
Because deep in our hearts, our most basic need, found in our DNA, written in our genetic code, is the need to belong to a community, a friendship, a network, a club, a family.
Forgive me for being flat-out corny, downright mushy, but whether you know it or not, whether you admit it or not, you have a desperate need for LOVE.
You were born with it.
Everybody has it.
Male or female, you need love.
Yes, men too. I don’t care how macho you are. I don’t care if you look like a gorilla. I don’t care if you look so mean, little kids scream in terror when they see you. I don’t care if you look like a 500-pound wrestler and you can crush me just by looking at me. At your deepest core, you still need love.
The billionaire living in the penthouse of his own skyscraper and the beggar living in a dark alley behind that skyscraper—Both of them are desperate for love.
The 8-month old baby, left in her crib, longing and crying for her mother’s arms to embrace her, and an 80-year old woman in a wheelchair, longing and crying for her son to visit her—Both are desperate for love.
Single, married, divorced, or widowed—you need love. Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Atheist or Agnostic—you need love.
When God made you, He put that need into you. He designed this need into you.
Why? Because at the end of the day, even if you have 346,114 Likes in Facebook—this need, this craving, this hunger for love will never be met. Ultimately, this need for love is a need for God. Because God is love.
At the end of the day, your desperate hunger for love will push you towards God—because every family, friend, and community will fail. Only God can never fail you. And only God can fill your desperate need.
Which brings me to my next point…
Define Your Win
In anything you do, you need to learn to define your win.
If you can’t define your win, defeat is certain.
In sports, the win is very obvious. It doesn’t take a basketball expert to know that the win is putting a rubber ball through the hoop. There’s no confusion about the win is. And it’s so easy to keep score. If you arrive late for a game, the first thing you ask is, “What’s the score?” The score is based on the win—the number of times the ball went through the hoop.
But let’s imagine the preposterous. Let’s imagine that a basketball team is confused about what the win is.
Player #1 thinks the fanciest dribble wins the game. So all he does is dribble like he was a clown in a circus.
Player #2 thinks that the fastest runner wins the game. So all he does is run back and forth from one court to another.
Player #3 thinks that the loudest cheer wins the game. So all he does is shout the entire game, “Go Team Go!”
Player #4 thinks that the most fashionable uniform wins the game. So this guy doesn’t run. He walks around like a fashion model in a catwalk.
Player #5 thinks that the most handsome player wins the game. So while everyone is scrambling for the ball, he stops to comb his hair.
Do you think this team will win?
In life, the first thing you need to do is define your win.
I repeat—Unless you define your win, defeat is certain.
Here’s the problem: Life has become so complicated for many people, the win is no longer obvious. Life has become so discombobulated, it’s almost impossible to define the win.
What Is The Win In Life?
To know what is life’s win, we need to go back to the One who made life. And in Matthew 22, Jesus unpacks human life for us, separating what is nice and what is necessary, what is external and what is essential.
The Teachers of the Law asked Jesus, “What is the greatest commandment?” These Teachers knew that there were 613 Old Testament Laws to choose from.
And Jesus said, “Love God and love others.”
And I’m sure you remember this passage… (We read it in greeting cards).
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)
That’s it. That’s our win. Love is the win of life.
In every area! Let me pick 4 examples…
1. What Is The Win In Business Life?
In business, what is the win?
Some people think the win of business is profit. No, it’s not. I speak as an Entrepreneur. I run a few businesses, and from my experience, if a company makes profit its number one win, it won’t last. It will have a short-lived success.
What is the win of a business? I believe the win of a business is to convert your customers into your raving fans. Raving fans will tell others about your product—the best marketing in the world. Raving fans will be willing to pay premium prices, increasing your margins. Raving fans will forgive you if you sometimes fumble.
In other words, love your customers so much that your customers love you back.
The win of enlightened businesses? Love.
2. What Is The Win In Family Life?
You think this is so obvious, but sometimes, we forget.
Let me tell you about Jim. Jim had a good-paying job in Manila. But he wanted more. He wanted to buy a bigger house, to buy a better car, to go to better vacations. He tried to convince himself that he was really doing this for his family. So he applied for work in Saudi and got accepted.
Jim talked to his wife and she understood. With reluctance, she allowed him to go.
It was now time to talk to his 6-year old boy, Jaime.
After dinner, he sat in front of little Jaime and spoke to him in a way that the boy could understand. Jim said, “Jaime, I need to work in a different country so I could earn more money for you. You won’t see me very often, but please remember that I’m doing this for you. So I could buy you more toys …” (I now realize where we learn to bribe…
Six-year old Jaime nodded and Jim was happy that he understood. He and his wife tucked their son to bed.
A few minutes later, while Jim and his wife were already in their bedroom, Jaime knocked on the door. When they opened it, they saw Jaime dragging behind him his box of toys. The 6-year old said, “Daddy, I want to sell my toys. So you can have money. So that you don’t have to go away to work anymore.”
Jim cried that night. His little boy was telling him what was most important. Little Jaime knew what the win of family life was.
The win in family life? It’s not how big your house is or how new your car is or how expensive your family vacation is. Your win is your relationships.
(Note: There are more desperate situations where parents have no choice but to work abroad. This is perfectly understandable. But this isn’t my example above. Jim already has a good-paying job and a house…)
3. What Is The Win In Church Life?
Our spiritual family, Light of Jesus, has been experiencing a growth explosion these past few years. In four short years, we’ve grown from 1 Feast to 110 Feasts scattered all over the world. Believe me, it’s totally unmerited. Totally undeserved.
By the way, I’m not proud of these numbers. Because community isn’t primarily about numbers. It’s primarily about the people behind those numbers. That’s what I’m excited about.
One day, God spoke to my heart and told me, “My blessing goes to those who are open to my blessing. And your unity—which can only come from the high price of humility—was that opening I was looking for.” I remember the Bible when it says that when there is unity, the Lord bestows His blessings (see Psalms 133:1-3).
When I heard that from God, I felt so humbled. Because our unity isn’t pure, perfect, or polished. Our unity is broken, blemished, and bandaged. Believe me, our leaders have fought a million times. But by God’s sheer miracle, we’ve forgiven each other a million times as well.
And yes, Unity comes from the high price of Humility. And humility is powerful. God says, “Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11)
That day, God was telling me, “The world will know you are my disciples not by the eloquence of your preaching, or by the energy of your worship, but by the excellence of your love for one another. Your mission is your relationships. Make your relationships your first priority. Remain united. If you do, you’ll see an increase of my favor in your community.”
I’m blessed to serve God with a bunch of faithful men who have been serving with me in Light of Jesus for 20, 25, 30 years! Despite our differences, spats, conflicts, quarrels, we’ve stuck it out together as brothers.
We Grow Bigger By Growing Smaller
A lot of people think that church is all about Mass, prayer meetings, worship, preaching, seminars… No, it’s not. Bottomline, it’s all about relationship. It’s about loving one another everyday. That’s why we always invite people to caring groups. (Caring Groups are 8 to 15 people who meet every week for prayer, encouragement, and friendship.) The only way we can grow bigger is by growing smaller.
After the Feast, a woman grabbed my arm, and with uncontainable joy, she said, “Bo, thank you for making Light of Jesus Family. It has blessed me so much.” I was half-expecting her to say that my brilliant preaching and erudite wisdom has impressed her immensely, but she didn’t say that. (Oh shucks.)
She said, “My 9-month old baby got very sick and needed to go through surgery.” She said she had to see the horrific sight of her sleeping little infant, with tiny tubes attached to her body, being wheeled into the operating room. “When the doors of the operating room closed, it was like life’s doors closed on me as well.” She had to wait for 5 excruciating hours outside wondering what was happening inside. But with tears welling up in her eyes, she said, “But throughout that time, my caring group was there with me. Calling me up. Texting me. Visiting me. Praying for me and my baby. I felt so much love from them. Thank you for building Light of Jesus Family.”
Friends, this is what the Catholic church is all about. At least, it’s what it should be. (But sadly, churches are like sacramental gas stations. Get your tank filled up and go off your own way…)
Light of Jesus isn’t just about the Feast, or the talks, or the worship, or the ministries we do. At the end of the day, Light of Jesus is about loving people everyday.
The win in church life? It’s all about relationships.
4. What Is The Win In Christian Life?
What makes you win in the Christian Life?
As Christians, we’re confused. Because we have a tendency to complicate what God has made simple. We complicate Christianity. We complicate following God.
Why? One reason: We like to make things more complicated because we like impressing people and feel special. I notice that we like to be part of an elite group that possesses a special lifestyle or culture or rituals that others don’t have. Because of these complicated things we do, we’re somehow the SWAT Team or the Navy Seals of God’s Army. (Example: “We fast, you don’t…”; “We memorize the Bible, you don’t even open it…”; “We don’t listen to secular music anymore, you still do…”; “We don’t go to movies, my gosh, you go every week…”). Religious groups do this all the time to make them feel that they’re better than the other less committed Christians around.
Some fifteen or twenty years ago, our spiritual family, Light of Jesus, was exactly like this. We were very big on rules. Our community culture was obsessed with rules. In fact, once you became an official member, we gave you a list of 24 Rules that you should do if you wanted to remain a member in good standing. Example? (1) You should pray one hour a day, (2) read the Bible for another hour a day, (3) go to Mass as often as you can, (4) pray the rosary everyday… We printed the list of our 24 Rules on a card and we required Members to bring it in their pocket or wallet.
I’m ashamed to say this, but I also encouraged members to do spot checks on each other. Like some kind of spiritual police. I wanted members to ask each other often, “Were you able to read the Bible yesterday? NO? My gosh… I suggest you double up today. Read two hours this morning…”
Because of this, the “win” of the Christian Life was confused. If you asked any of our members, “What does a holy person look like?” they would say, “Someone who prays the rosary everyday. Someone who reads—and memorizes—the Bible everyday…” On and on, the list went.
But thank God, He didn’t allow us to stay this way. One day, God knocked my head and told me, “Bo, you’ve got it all wrong.” (Actually, it didn’t happen in a day, because I was hardheaded. He had to knock my head a few more times!) Through many years, God clarified in my heart what was the win in the Christian Life.
How did God do it?
Two remarkable things happened.
Do I Want To Live With Them For All Eternity?
First, I realized that some religious people who deserved a big Gold Medal for getting a perfect score with our 24 Rules (or similar lists) were the most judgmental, critical, self-righteous, condemning, arrogant, manipulative, and obnoxious people I’ve ever met in my life. They did everything right in a wrong way. Because they were so holy and perfect, they saw everyone as uncommitted, undisciplined, immature, carnal, fleshy, and tainted by the world.
Suddenly, I imagined living with these very “holy” people in Heaven for all eternity—and I cringed. To be honest, I had second thoughts about going to Heaven.
Let me give you a more current example…
The Heart Of The Bible
I receive thousands of emails. Most of them are happy emails. But I get a handful that attack me.
From them, I get this line often: “Bo, you’re going to Hell. And you’re bringing many people to Hell.” They criticize my doctrines and beliefs, because they say it’s against the Bible. Oh believe me, they know their Bible. They send me large swathes of Bible verses.
But do they really know the heart of the Bible? Because I notice that their emails are dripping with hate. And they just don’t hate me, they hate everyone.
The heart of the Bible is love.
Second transformational experience that God gave me?
Religious Maturity Vs. Spiritual Maturity
He brought to my path unchurched people who were more loving than many church people I know.
One day, I met such a man who astounded me with Christ’s unconditional love flowing out of him. I was stunned because I learned that he never went to Church his entire life. But as I talked to the people living around him, they tell me that they experience God’s Love through him. I was shocked beyond my wits. How could that be possible? He was an anomaly that didn’t fit my nice Theology that says, “Christians are good, Non-Christians are bad.”
He didn’t know his Bible.
But he was living the heart of the Bible.
Here’s my big realization: There’s a difference between religious maturity and spiritual maturity. Religious maturity has to do with Rules. Spiritual maturity has to do with Relationship.
Christianity Is About One Thing
The longer I live as a Christian, the more I realize that’s it’s very simple to follow God. (Note: I didn’t say it’s easy. I just said it’s simple.)
Christianity is about one thing. It’s all about relationships.
Everything else—Bible study, Holy Mass, Doctrinal Teaching, Prayer Meetings—were designed to strengthen your relationships. IF these aren’t strengthening your relationships, there’s something terribly wrong.
Think about it. Even God is a relationship. The Father loved the Son, the Son loved the Father, and that love between the Father and the Son is the Holy Spirit.
He wants you to be part of that beautiful relationship.
A Marriage Based On Rules Isn’t A Marriage
What if I married my wife based on rules?
Imagine if after our wedding day, I brought out a piece of paper containing 24 Rules, and told Marowe, “Darling, you’re very lucky to marry me. Here are the 24 Rules I want you to do to make me happy…
Rule #1: Feed me everyday; No leftovers please and no repeating of dishes for at least 2 months;
Rule #2: Make babies, feed babies, burp babies, wash babies, carry babies, dress babies, raise up babies until their 21 years old—once 21, we’ll drop them in some public park and leave them there;
Rule #3: This is the most important rule; I want you to give me a foot massage for at least thirty minutes every night…”
And then I add, “By the way, if you don’t do these 24 Rules, I won’t love you anymore. The marriage is finished. Kaput. Gone.”
Do you think that’ll be a great marriage?
That’s not Love, that’s Law. That’s not a marriage commitment, that’s a business deal. That’s not a heart covenant, that’s a cheap contract.
But many people think Christianity is like that. Many people think God is like that. “Do the rules and you’re okay with God. Don’t do the rules and you’re not okay with God.”
Let me shout this from the rooftops. This isn’t Christianity!
God wants a relationship with you.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against rules. Every relationship has basic rules, but it’s not the center, nor the spirit, nor power of the relationship.
God wants you to love Him not because you’re afraid He’ll throw you to Hell if you don’t do the Rules. God wants you to love Him because He loved you first (see 1 John 4:19).
Let me end with one last story…
God Prioritizes Relationships
One day, a group of angry men threw a woman at Jesus feet.
In my imagination, she was most likely bruised with blood dripping on her face, slapped a couple of times by these holy men. She was most likely naked too.
These men said to Jesus, “Jesus, we caught this woman in the act of adultery. The Law states that we should stone her to death. What do you say?” (This makes me wonder. The last time I checked, adultery happens between two people. Where’s the guy?)
In other words, she broke the rules! But to God, as shocking as this may sound, His relationship with the woman was more important than those rules.
So Jesus threw a pail of cold water on these violent, blood-thirsting, stone-carrying, rage-breathing, nostrils-flaring mob by saying, “He who has no sin cast the first stone.” One Bible manuscript says, “He who has not committed this same sin cast the first stone.”
One by one, the guys dropped their stones and walked out.
(Let me insert this: Next time you’re angry at something, check the mirror. Because most often, we’re angry at something that’s in us—but we just don’t admit it yet. So we project our anger at others.)
When everyone left, Jesus bent down to this crying, trembling, terrified woman, cowering in front of him. He asked, “Where are those that condemn you?”
The woman said, “They’ve left…”
That was when Jesus said two powerful things to her. And it’s important that you keep the sequence of these two powerful things right. (Many religious people invert his sequence!)
Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.”
And then He said, “Sin no more.”
Religious people have inverted the sequence of these two words. They preach, “Sin no more… and God won’t condemn you.”
You hear this again and again. “Keep the rules… and God will love you.”
That’s not what God said. That’s not the right sequence.
The first thing God says to you is, “I don’t condemn you. I love you. I accept you as you are. You may feel like junk right now. Rubbish. Garbage. Because of your sins, your failures, you feel like the scum of the earth. Well, I don’t condemn you. And if you receive my love, and enter into a relationship with me, I’ll help you not to break the rules anymore. Because of my love for you, you can overcome sin in your life.”
That’s the Gospel of Jesus.
God prioritizes your relationship with Him. More important than all the rules. Actually, more important than anything else in the universe.
Dear friend, go do the same. Prioritize your relationships. Make relationships your win in life.
Life is all about relationships.
Business Life is all about relationships.
Family Life is all about relationships.
Church Life is all about relationships.
Shout it from the housetops: Life is all about relationships.
May your dreams come true,
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