In a day and age when the world is rife with upheaval, right up to our glass-panelled, tiled and sheltered doorstep, all we seem to be concerned about is the next church event, the next barbecue and the next ministry task. Even if it were not so, we fill the front of the sanctuary with appeals for health, wealth, prosperity, peace for others and ourselves. But open the newspaper, or click on your favourite online news media and you find that Christian thought is scarcely represented, much less talked about. Ask around for well-formed opinions and thoughts affecting our country and you generally find opinions sourced from mainstream thinking.
It’s almost a case of “outsourcing” our standpoints on current events to alternative news portals—usually found online—such as Malaysiakini.com, Malaysia Today, The Malaysian Insider and famous bloggers. We echo their sensational tones, smart-aleck questioning and overdone cries of wanting our taxes back. And then we go on a Facebook-Like / Share-with-Comment hit rampage. Alternatively, or in addition to that, we also allow the prayer powerpoint slides, prayer bulletin and our big brother the Council of Churches Malaysia or National Evangelical Christian Fellowship to take over our thought processes. Nice, but we (the author is guilty as charged, too) are only skimming the surface.
I would dare to venture that we, the Christian youth, know Jesus Christ personally. But it is oft the case that we know Him emotionally and sometimes in a clichéd, general way, and our knowledge is, I should say, at best limited to what He has done on the Cross for our own personal salvation. Indeed salvation through Christ’s work on the Cross is our entry point into the Kingdom. But is that all it is for us? I believe we were redeemed by the Messiah to resume our intended purpose as men and women created in the image of God, to have dominion in our respective fields under His rulership. And Jesus has paved the way for that by being our perfect example, the firstborn of our kind. The King—who served.
Perhaps what we should concern ourselves in this new life, as new creations, is this: How can I begin to live in the image of God under the Lordship of Christ in this chaotic, confused world? Is it by creating another ideal world populated by Christians and soon-to-be Christians—sometimes called “church”? Or could His invitation of “Follow me” mean to follow His radical principles and to imitate that holiness, self-denying tenacity and humility that He demonstrated in this world in the power of the Holy Spirit? If indeed Jesus’ life was marked by daily interactions with the world, what were His underlying principles that determined His treatment of a woman accused of adultery, a greedy tax collector, a traitor, a hypocrite, a woman from a forbidden race? What was His view? What was His code of ethics? What was His position?
Today, this same Jesus sits at the right hand of God, interceding. Surely He has the same absolute set of principles to intercede by that would bring about the fulfillment of the will of God.
What is Jesus’ position on taxes? You will find that the Government of His day was even more indulgent than ours, and many times more oppressive.
What is Jesus’ stand on social justice? What would He have felt if the children He welcomed were victims of trafficking?
What would Jesus say to racial prejudice and societal differences? How did He feel when His disciples said nothing to Him speaking to the Samaritan woman?
What would Jesus say about material wealth in the light of eternal treasures?
How does Jesus’ idea and response to sin compare to that of other faiths?
What does Jesus say about Himself and what does that really mean to you and I?
If we answered these questions in simple because-it-says-so-in-that-thick-book-lying-over-there terms, we probably need to dig deeper into the Word for the principle that activates that answer. This is because every command that Jesus makes reflects His unchanging character, and demands a response from us. Christianity is not a set of rules, or standards—it is about knowing God and obeying Him. Jesus Christ has that absolutism that this confused world lacks. And that absolutism is His character. It is truth.
If we answered those questions above with biblical reasoning, why are these ideals not showcased to the world—just like how the strange idea of “The Universe” is being propagated today? As the very bride of Christ, why do we showcase our skills, our talents, our professionalism, but not the character and steadfast principles of Christ? Didn’t Jesus use carpentry to serve and engage His community, but also exhibit radical principles with His whole life? Jesus was a prime example of living in the world—not in a cocoon—but not being of the world.
The legacy of Christianity is in some of the oldest Commonwealth laws. It is in some of the highly commended works by English poets who loved, who was besotted with, God. It is in the adoring strains of Bach. It is in the tort of negligence, which was based on the principle of loving your neighbor. Christian thinking has given rise to integrity of word and dependability of promise, even traditions of chivalry, politeness and civility. Christian monasteries have given us learning and knowledge, which has paved the way for huge leaps in technology and medical sciences. Indeed, Christian thought has been shown to bring about inner and world-view changes which have spawned the efficient and systematic running of nations. Such nations of Judeo-Christian heritage have contributed to other world civilizations as well, though not without its shortcomings and failures.
Today, the world is amok with all kinds of ideology. In Malaysia, the church raises its voice to defend our constitutional right to practise our religion. But is that all the church of Jesus—redeemed to resume our partnership with God—is involved in? Far be it that we should be self-serving and concerned only with our own affairs, while the rest of the young adult world rises to the occasion to question how business should be done, how corruption should be handled, how women should be treated, how war should be handled. Should the Word of God—both written and in the flesh—be undermined by our refusal or negligence in wielding it?
The Church in Malaysia, particularly the youth, must rise beyond self-preservation and self-enjoyment. The light of the world—the Word who gave Himself up for us in the flesh—must no longer be hidden under a bowl.
We do not truly know Jesus or can claim to be His followers if we stand unaffected by the events in this dark world.
It is time that we unsheath the Word to form our positions on the issues of the day. It is when our thoughts and beliefs are nailed down that we can begin to take action.