Friday, April 14, 2017

Forgiveness requires hope, and it already came

Zeke Smith, despite a fellow contestant outing him, maintained a positive outlook. Robert Voets/CBS

(Warning: I intended to revive this blog on a Good Friday as of posting because I assume many would have already watched the latest Survivor US episode by this time [it was first aired on Maundy Thursday], but if you still haven't watched the episode yet, read this at your own risk.)

IN case you're wondering what happened to my blogs, well many of you are already aware that I am focusing right now on my two news organizations, Dugout Philippines (Mah baby!) and the Philippine News Agency, so I could not reserve some time for my other websites.

But this year, I was introduced by my high school friend to the world of online reality games (ORG's), online simulations of well-known game shows like Survivor and The Amazing Race.

She placed third in a certain online Survivor simulation, which made me think, "Hey! I should give the Survivor online game a try."

I was eventually cast to another Survivor ORG, and I placed second... to the last (I was the second guy eliminated, that is. Sorry, Jen. I did my best.).

Still, it revived the inner Survivor fan in me, so I eventually got hooked up to the latest Survivor US season, an all-star season titled "Survivor: Game Changers", and this is where the real point of this blog will come from.

In the latest episode shown on Thursday (Philippine Time), three-time participant Jeff Varner, in an effort to save himself from elimination, called out fellow Game Changer Zeke Smith and asked, "Why haven't you told anyone you're transgender?"

That question apparently blew their fellow contestants, host Jeff Probst, and the production staff's minds when the said open forum, aptly called a "tribal council", happened last year (Survivor: Game Changers was filmed about 10 months ago but will only be concluded with a live finale next month), and it surely blew the viewers' minds as well.

The analyst in me would say, "This is part of Varner's strategy. He just wanted to stay alive in the game," but personally, I was upset with the said move, considering Varner, like Smith, is part of the LGBTQIA community.

The desperate move obviously backfired, and Varner would still be voted out, making him the last pre-merge boot.

But I was impressed with how Zeke remained calm during the said moment, which is now ranked as one of the darkest, if not the darkest, moments in the history of the reality show franchise.

For sure, he knew that it was part of Varner's gameplay, but his calmness looked beyond the Survivor level.

What moved me even more was the episode postmortem article that he posted on The Hollywood Reporter.

One particular excerpt impressed me a lot, and this is coming from a guy who claims he's "not particularly religious."

"...forgiveness does not require friendship. Forgiveness does not require forgetting or excusing his actions. Forgiveness requires hope," the excerpt read.

However, that hope already came 2,000 years ago when Christ came to Earth.

Right now, we are in a so-called "Holy Week" in commemoration of how forgiveness came upon us.

Knowing our sinful nature, God knows that we deserve to die (Romans 6:23a), but He also loves the world so much that He came right down to Earth, took the form of a human, and gave Himself up for us so that we may not perish and have eternal life (John 3:16), which is a gift to us (Romans 6:23b).

Indeed, our hope already came in Jesus Christ. He already forgave us and took our supposed punishment.

And it's not just an ordinary forgiveness: "God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 NIV)"

What's cooler is that the KJV translation of Romans 5:8 says that "God commends His love toward us," that is, through His sacrifice on the cross, He entrusts His love to us. Considering the things we did that hurt God so much, it's surprising that He would still entrust His love to us, but He loves us unconditionally.

God is our ultimate hope, and already forgave us. To fully grasp the love and forgiveness He gave us, all you can do is this: "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, you and your household, and you will be saved. (Acts 16:31 ESV).

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