Malaysia's Christmas Celebration - Ban on using the word "Christ " [20 December 2004]
Dear Friends .
Wow , I must have missed quite a number of mails flying about . And I am sure by now you would have heard the news that there is no official ban on this , only done by " overzealous lower ranking officials" .
I remember talking to a brother 2 weeks ago who commented in frustration on why his church leaders always seemed 'graceful' , you know.. Always forgiving , agreable , suffer through difficulties without complaining etc. I think this is somehow a 'dilemma' facing some Christians today . Whether we should stand up and make out statements loud and clear , or to 'turn the other cheek". Should we like Mr Bush who invaded and kill in 'his faith and believe' of a 'just war' or the 5 Christian aid workers who were helplessly murdered while helping in Afghan refugee camp. ( ok , so I am pretty much biased against the war in Iraq . Haha )
Anyway , here are a summary of my views
1. "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of selfdiscipline." Can we sincerely be able to say that we had stand up with our voices ( and action ) when it is required ? In school , in varsity , in your neighbourhood , in your church , in your working place ? I agree with James on this and there is just certain things that we got to stand up to in our position and place. Certainly , Christians are not put disappropriately higher percentage in the profesional bracketts ( than the Malaysian national average ) to sit down and live a 'happy' life only. People like OC Lim , Pastor Paul ( Chow Kit ) , Dr Max Ongkillii and my senior Andrew Wong are some examples of people who went beyond . But do it with spirit ( wisdom?) , LOVE and self discipline . Reminded me to a real event where a group of Christian demonstrated along a cemetary for a gay who died of AIDS . Even I was disgusted when I watched this news clip.
2. And eye for an eye ... Or love our neighbour as ourselves . ( the muslims! ) ".... context makes clear that Jesus means to pray good things for our enemies. Old Testament prayers for vindication (such as 2 Chron 24:22; Jer 15:15) still have their place (2 Tim 4:14; Rev 6:10), but our attitude toward individuals who hurt us personally or corporately must be love (Lk 23:34; Acts 7:60). Again, Jesus' words are graphic pictures that force us to probe our hearts; they do not cancel the Old Testament belief in divine vindication (Mt 23:33, 38; Rev 6:10-11), but summon us to leave our vindication with God and seek others' best interests in love." ( NIV commentary ) .
Boycotting an event that is specially allocated to Malaysian Christians as a sign of their 'respect' to us and multiculturism is not in the best taste. Sure , it is great injustice to be subjected to such skewed politics. But this 'bad faith ' will only reinforce certain people biasness towards us. And this cycle of hate and disrespect will continue on. In addition , Christians in Peninsular are 'known' to be generally more distant if an event involves the whole community . Sure , we like our YF , church gangs , Planet shaker concerts etc. but surely there is more to the society than this . Take a bus to a small town / kampung ... And you will see that the 'world' is actually broader and complex than it seemed. Btw , want pre-christians to come to your church ? Do a rumah terbuka.
Anyway , to summarize - I would like to suggest my approach to this issue. I will seek out understanding with the relevant authorities that Christ is central to our belief and this Christmas is an occasion to remember his Birth. Even if the highest authority refuses to budge , I will still ask the Christians to support this occasion . Forget about the Christmas songs/ gospels /hymms , go and sing Malay / Chinese / indian folk songs la. Once the news got out about this ban and how the Christian responded , people will then be able ' to see the Christ in us" . Maybe even then the outpouring of criticism will make the minister sorry ( dun think so la ) . Haha . But that is the 'power' of Christ's teaching , in meekness there is a real strength through Christ.
Lastly , do hope that those who are reading this will spare a thought to the "Christian ' bodies who are representing us . I think they are certainly suffering due to our neglect. Whether CCM , NECF , CFM , CWM , M&Ms ( kidding ) , it has not been easy . Lets pray for them
1. For a real unity of the body . If not , one day we will be divided and conquered through all these factions.
2. Christian leaders who will make a stand and be respected for the choices made.
3. Funding - enough of building super-duper-mega churches or buying more lands and divert some fund to these institutions. Can churches be challenged to be simple ? Kesianle Scripture Union , GCF .. ;)