Sunday, September 02, 2007
This Merdeka weekend, I am thankful for the opportunity to travel to Kuantan with Chor Hon, to share about "Caring For The World" with a lively and bright group of youths from Emmanuel Evangelical Free Church. Knowing them made me optimistic about the future. Thanks much for a refreshing, horizon-expanding and meaningful camp, Pastor Tony Lim, Hon Yau, Lukas and everyone at X-Men, CareBear, Doraemon and Banana groups...
If we just look at the world and do not support each other in a community of faith, it's easy to get depressed, frustrated and give up under the sheer weight of human needs around us. It's a community project - imagine Frodo without Sam and the Fellowship of the Ring. Even William Wilberforce, the famous abolitionist, who persevered despite repeated failures (it's a marathon) had the support of likeminded friends in the Clapham Sect... (or Tolkien had the Inklings)
a) We live in the tension of being ‘in’ but not ‘of’ the world. There is a wideness in God's mercy that transcends racial, gender, cultural barriers yet we are called to avoid worldliness or value systems that oppose God or take Him out of the equation. (James 4:4)
b) Withdrawal from the world leaves us with a sheltered but irrelevant corner in the universe. Compromise with the world leaves with a popular but watered down gospel.
Leon told me the analogy of the housemate from hell. Someone who knows he'd be moving in a month's time and refuses to do his duties around the house, because he'd be gone anyway... the house is just a temporary transit. But we dunno when Christ will return, next week or 500 years time! So if we could be staying on earth for the next few hundred years, we have every reason to treat it with care and respect.
Three Areas We Need To Care About the Malaysian world
i. The Church as an inclusive community of racial reconciliation, being for the other and justice. We need to wake up from tidak-apathy and a form of tribalism (defending our interests only) by speaking up on behalf of non-Christians also (as some of us did in the moorthy/revathi/orang asli cases). In the words of Keropok lekor, we can "creatively surprise the "other" through scandalous/unexpected/revolutionary acts of kindness and grace."
ii. The Church as witness and conversation partner with people of various religious persuasions. We need to ambassadors for Christ in word and deed. Interfaith dialogue does not exclude evangelism, but deepens it. Witness does not exclude dialogue, but invites it in a humble spirit of "understand and then be understood" (one of the 5 love languages we learn about). Be equipped in knowledge (informed mind - know what and why we believe), wisdom (tactful method, question the questions) and character (humble, fair, respectful).
iii. The Church as salt and light in the marketplace, living for the glory of God in various spheres of life, in word and deed. Pastor Tony was insightful is laying out his vision of ministry as empowering and equipping the laity to minister in the world. Traditional paradigm of pastor as doer of ministry while the laity as mere receipients of ministry result in bottleneck.
Shared story about Sunway staff whose credibility is undermined bcos he has no competence/diligence at work. Marvin Wong on the "ministry of Work": "Pilots who fly well ensure the safety of passengers so they arrive on time. Auditors who perform add to ensuring financial integrity of companies and proper management of resources. Lawyers ensure the rights of all parties are protected..." Work in itself is a form of service and ministry to the world, not just a means for evangelism.
For some, obedience will lead us to the path of upward mobility like Daniel/Joseph and others the path of faithfulness leads to 'downward' mobility like Jesus/Paul. Each of us could discover our 'mutant powers', and be an ordained salesperson/lawyers/rap artists/any-lawful-work for the glory of God
1) At Jacob's well, Jesus reached across racial, religious and gender barriers in a simple conversation with the Samaritan woman. How shall we follow Christ humbly and boldly in doing the same here in Malaysia? What are some barriers we need to cross? How could we do that?
2) What are the subjects you study in college/school? What does that field of study say about what is true, good and beautiful? For example, if I want to be a rap artist, how can I do so ‘Christianly’? If I am a Christian counselor, how would I see moral behaviors as determined by genes? If I'm a businessperson, how shall I look at monetary profits? Look at your own interest areas and ambition.
3) An ambassador for Christ should be equipped in the area of knowledge, wisdom and character. Which area do you feel needs to be strengthened further? Why and how would that be helpful in your witness?