Saturday, January 9, 2010

How do we respond?

The headlines read, ‘A sad day for Malaysia’, and some even called it ‘Black Friday’. The attacks on the church buildings in Malaysia have sparked uproar all over the country. I got up to a few text messages when words like ‘chaos’ and ‘riots’ were used. Facebook had the coverage of reactions by disappointed citizens of all ages expressing their disgust and some even venting their anger over the social network. As I opened my email, there were already quite a number emails being circulated calling for prayer, petition and calmness. I spent the entire morning reading through the news reports online, numerous chats broke off through msn and gmail over what had happened. I also sent out an email to my non-Malaysian friends to call for prayer. I was troubled, many different things rushed through my head and then it suddenly dawned on me. It was only 3 church buildings.

I felt sad, and disappointed, yes. I don’t mean to disrespect the loss of property for the 3 congregations. No lives were lost and we thank God for His protection over our lives. But again, it was 3 church buildings. I quote some politicians saying, ‘it is against Islam that the place of worship of others should be destroyed’. The government has also said that they will allocate money to help rebuild the place of worship of the Christians. That’s the perception and mindset of the church buildings because of their own understanding of mosques and temples. I rejoice in this because the church building is merely a place for the gathering of saints, a location for fellowship and activities and yes, also to worship our Lord. But, worship isn’t restricted by walls for the scripture says that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Our very actions in everyday life, our lifestyle, our very being are forms of worship to our God. I rejoice because our place of worship can never be taken away from us. Whether it is at the peak of the highest mountain or the filthy floor of the lowest dungeon we still can worship our God. So do not be confused with words, a few church buildings are have been burned and crumbled but the CHURCH of Malaysia still stands strong.

‘I’ve told you all this so that trusting Me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.’ John 16:33

This was the verse that God comforted me with. Jesus already had forewarned us about the things to come. Something we can also call, the storms of life.

1. Storms of life come to everyone at some point in our lives

We might also call this persecution. Upon receiving Christ into our lives as our personal Lord and saviour, we natural made an instant enemy Satan and his legions. 1 Peter 4:12 writes, ‘… do not be surprised at finding that that scorching flame of persecution is raging among you to put you to the test as though some surprising thing were accidentally happening to you.’

2. We cannot prevent the storms of life from coming, but we can determine its outcome

How do we respond to the storm? Are we any different from the unsaved if we criticise, curse and finger point during this time of adversity. We are actually worse than them, because we know what is right and they don’t know any better. Let’s not roll around in defeat but instead stand up to claim the pending victory. In Acts 27:25, Paul was on a ship at storm in sea but he declared: ‘Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer for I believe God that it shall be even as it was told me. ‘ Christ has overcome!

3.The storms of life will reveal the real us

We are sometimes legends in our own minds. We think we are stronger than we really are. We have been praying for revival and transformation in our country, change has to come. Yes, persecution might have started but barely. Are we prepared for what might follow in the future? Proverbs 24:10 says: ‘If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.’ Let’s pray for ourselves, the Malaysian church.

Our God is sovereign. On the very same day, half way round the world in Africa the Togo national football team was gunned down on the way to the African Nations Tournament. 3 were killed and 10 were injured. God knows whether the 3 even knew Christ. How does that compare to burnt buildings now? Well, I will say after all that we still got it easy. The Lord’s hand of protection was upon us and still is. I urge you not to go around blabbering about things we don’t fully understand for our fight is not merely against flesh and blood but powers and principalities. The culprits ought to be brought to justice but out of love. Let this be a time and opportunity to show God’s love to all. Pray for a shift in the church and a turnaround in the country. Like one of my friends said:’ This is excellent PR for the church’ Four church buildings might have been burnt, but the CHURCH of Malaysia still stands strong. Sejahtera Malaysia!

Hanging on to Hope..