Friday, April 15, 2011

Sarawak Christians Need to Relook At The Borderline Between State & Religion

Ideally, as one Sarawak colleague remarked to me once, state and religion should be kept separate. In other words, what is of the world should remain in the world and what is of God should remain in God’s house.

In practise and in the case of Sarawak, the dividing line can no longer hold because the state has encroached on the religious values and integrity of the church (which is not an association but the whole body of Christians in Malaysia and the world community). This is evident in the two-state policy of the government on the Bahasa Malaysia bibles and Allah issue.

What should Christians do and does the behaviour/campaigns of Christian politicians (on both sides of the party line) in this election reflect the character of our Lord Jesus Christ? I am sure our Creator in Heaven is watching very closely as the protagonists argue and plead their case to the people of Sarawak.

Sarawakians have enjoyed freedom of religious worship for decades and I can see so many churches flourishing there. They have enjoyed this privilege while the persecution of the church and the gospel is happening at a very intense rate in the Peninsular and around the world (compare how much religious freedom is granted to Christians in Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, India etc versus Peninsular Malaysia. China is in a class of its own in the persecution index). 

But will the outcome of the 16th April elections change the perspective of Sarawak Christians about their position in Malaysia? Will it completely change their view (which in many ways is Biblically correct) that the worldly and the divine should remain separate?

These are hard issues which will engage the entire nation and the body of Christ for years to come. As Christians, we are the spiritual shepherds of this nation and we have to wake up to our responsibilities in this present end times: there will be increasing worldliness and political tensions on the one hand while a call for greater spirituality and blessings from God will also intensify on the other hand.

God is shaking the nations to wake us up and we must not remain indifferent and complacent.

So where shall we stand as Malaysian Christians? In the midst of the tranquility and natural beauty of Sarawak, a great spiritual battle has started.

We will do the nation a great favour by continuing this dialogue with our non-Christian neighbors and fellow citizens. In the process, we must remember to remind ourselves that our faith in the goodness and love of God goes beyond politics and beyond casting a vote in the ballot box. So in our prayers, when we ask God for justice and righteousness to prevail in the land, it is very much the Kingdom of God that we are seeking to be established on earth, not according to our own designs/will but God’s perfect will.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is high time for Sarawakians, both Christians and non-Christians, to wake up to their responsibilities as citizens of Malaysia and to stand up for the rights of all citizens to practise their faiths freely without obstructions and unfairness of treatment.

However, this regionalistic mentality of East-West Malaysia is still prevalent and the coming election will show how far have Sarawakians progressed to think and act beyond regionalistic boundaries.

The Alkitab and Allah issue is the red hot challenge that is being thrown into the midst of peaceful Sarawak. Here they will have to make a stand for the future of the country and for their own well-being, both economic and spiritual.

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