The meaning of being the disciple of Christ – my stand in 428 Bersih 3.0 + Himpunan Hijau 3.0 (This English version of my article is done by sister Chui-Lian Phang)
Nowadays 428 is one of the hottest domestic topics in Malaysia. Bersih 3.0 and Himpunan Hijau 3.0 is calling the citizens to participate in the peaceful sit-down rally on April 28 to go against corruption, Lynas campaign, etc.
How should Christians respond to this issue? What kind of stand should Jesus’ disciples make? Let’s search for the answer from Luke 9:46-50.
Firstly, we need to understand that Luke 9 brings mixed feelings. On one hand, the incarnated Jesus Christ repeatedly displays his glory and power; on the other hand he started to prophesy and told his disciples about his future sufferings. The Son of Man displayed his glory in giving his disciples the power and authority to cast our demons and heal the sick (9:1-6), fed five thousand with five loaves and two fishes (9:12-17), his transfiguration when he was praying on the mountain (9:28-36), and driving away evil spirit (9:37-43). Nevertheless, he also predicted his sufferings: “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life…The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men.” (9:22,44)
Unfortunately, the disciples paid no attention to Jesus’ words about the need for him to give himself for the sins of the world because they were looking forward to the political Messiah.They concerned about own benefits, unlike Jesus who sought the benefit of others (Jesus would give his life for the ransom for many). No wonder they argued about who would be the greatest (9:46).
Jesus took a little child (low in status in the society at that time) and had him stand beside him. He earnestly said to them: “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all – he is the greatest.”(9:48). Jesus was saying that to be his disciples is not about power, money, and status; the true meaning of discipleship is about humble service and caring for others, especially those who are low in status, helpless and seemingly unimportant. Jesus said that those who do so welcome him and the Father who sent him.
Then, another argument occurs! John said:”we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.” (9:49) However, Jesus pointed that the man had the right belief (believe in the name of Jesus) and the right action (drove out demons in the name of Jesus), so “do not stop him, for whoever is not against you is for you.”This shows that disciples should not be divided according to denominations (Refer 1 Cor 1:11-13 about divisions in the church), but should be united in Catholic spirit, the right doctrine, glorifying God and being helpful to mankind, thriving the gospel of Christ and expand God’s kingdom harmoniously.
Based on the above analysis, the Lord’s disciples should:
1. Humbly serve God and care about others regardless of status (Luke 9:46-48);
2. Hold on to the right doctrine, glorify God, and be helpful to mankind (Luke 9:49-50).
In church history, a young member of parliament named William Wilberforce (1759-1833 A.D.) was a good example. He was shining as a light through his political position (Matthew 5:13-16), for thousands upon thousands of slaves. He fought for the abolition of slaves for twenty over years. One of his opposers said to him: “If the slave trade is abolished, five thousand five hundred sailors would lose jobs, one hundred sixty ships would stop operating, this would cause the loss of eight hundred thousand pounds!"
However, Wilberforce knew that God called him to be the salt in the politics and revolute the corrupted system to glorify God. Moreover, he received support from a great man of God – John Wesley, so he was very determined in his effort.John Wesley wrote to Wilberforce, saying: “If God is for you, who can be against you? Are they stronger than God? Ah, don’t be discouraged but continue to strive in the name of the Lord!”
Wilberforce, John Wesley, and tens of thousands of Methodists made public statement against slave trade. Finally, in 1807, the parliament finally approved the abolition of slave trade!
Today, in Malaysia, Bersih 3.0’s 8 demands (clean the electoral roll, reform the postal ballot system, use of indelible ink, free and fair access to media, minimum 21 days campaigning period, consolidate and strengthen public institutions, stop corruption and abuse of power and put an end to dirty political tricks) and Himpunan Hijau’s demands (request government to stop Lynas campaign and make sure that all the developments are in line with earth charter principles), to me, it’s in line with biblical teaching,especially in term of justice and environmental protection.Therefore, in the grace of God, I support the above demands, because disciples are meant to benefit others (for the sake of future generations and the future of the country) and glorify God.
In fact, in face of the rampant evil, being silent and not taking a stand is dangerous. Jesus Christ said clearly that: “whoever is not against you is for you” (Luke 9:50); this shows that we need to take clear stand in face of devil and evil! Hope the following church history speaks to us:
There was a Germany pastor named Martin Niemöller (1892-1984). He once supported Hitler for the sake of the country. However, when he realized that Nazism was evil, he began to oppose it; consequently,he was imprisoned for 7 years.When the war was over, he concluded about the danger of being silent in the face of evil:
Initially Nazi killed socialists, I was silent, because I was not socialists. Then, they killed trade union members, I was silent, because I was not a trade union member. After that, they killed the Jews, I still remain silent, because I am not a Jew. Finally, they kill me, but no one is there to speak for me.