Life as a young Christian.
May 19, 1998
A few days ago, I went into a heated discussion over the issue of sympathy. Working at a newspaper has hardened my heart against some people, and it was dilemma for me. I had no sympathy for the man who used a handphone and drove into a bus stop. Does this mean that I cannot forgive him?
How can I live with myself when I know that I cannot forgive certain people, much less have compassion for them? Are we to take the degree of mistakes that people make so lightly? Who are we to judge? But are we human to ignore the pain of one person’s “mistake”. Or irresponsibility?
May 9, 1998
Well, I’m quite feverish, suffering from a terrible flu as I type this now, but let me assure you that I am still of sound mind and soul. To me, plenty of things have happened since my baptism in Dec 1997, and I have found more things and experienced more events which have continually assured me of the presence of God. Even though, in this past half a year, though my friends might not have seen it, I have backslided faster than I ever thought I would, mainly because I have allowed myself to compromise with the secular world. In fact, I am still victim to it everyday. It’s funny, but quite sad to know that when you become a Christian, suddenly the Devil seems to be closer to you. The spiritual battles that other Christians fight, I don’t really know, but I do know that it is a daily struggle for me, to keep close to God, to renew my self and to remain Christlike in nature.
“Oh my God!”
I guess other Christians who read this page, especially the youth, will find it a familiar thing…to remain Christlike in the presence of your other non-Christian friends and colleagues, or even family. I mean, my friends often exclaim, “Oh my God!” and I will ask them, “So who is your God?”
This might sound as if I’m treating myself as a high and mighty Christian but no, not so. My reasoning is that if this people can so easily acknowledge that there is a God to exclaim to, what are your views on God? Can you put your complaints to someone whom you don’t believe in? Or rather not believe in? For all those non-Christians reading this, do think about it. I mean, like something which I read last time, you can either accept Christ or reject him but you cannot explain him away.
Perhaps one thing is that the Ten Commandments, though sounding perfectly moral and reasonable, have taken on an aura of “Holier than thou” when they are quoted or reminded of. Who wants to be preached to? I myself cannot tolerate it sometimes when other Christians who are perfect strangers come up to me and ask, “Do you know about the Four Spiritual Laws? Would you like to have lunch over this?” Yes, I admire their courage and bravery in their outreach efforts, and feel ashamed that I myself am not so “on” about reaching out to others. But Singaporeans in general, or is it just me, are naturally confined to their own personal spaces and wish no stranger to barge in just like that. It brings awkwardness and discomfort to people who might not be willing to listen at that point of time. But the good thing is, out of the dozens of rejections, I am sure that there are people who respond positively!
As a young Christian, I stand in awe of my older brothers and sisters who seem remarkable in their stand against forces of secularism. It’s difficult for me to run away from the media culture that we live in, especially since I’m a comm studies student. Our media is so full of distractions and waywardness, I used to relish it, enjoy it but now I only feel a sense of uncertainty and dilemma when I am confronted by media images of sex and gratitious violence. And of course it doesn’t help that I’m the kind that talks freely about sex and biological functions. I tell you, it’s something that you learn in ACS. Aiyah, shouldn’t blame the alma mater but myself instead. So in this manner, how am I going to convince non-Christians that I am a follower of Christ? Most people are surprised when they discover that I am a Christian, goes to show how little I have changed for the better. Nothing jolts me like reminding myself of one of the ever-amazing quotes from the LKBC flyer:
He who is not himself on Sunday is a hypocrite
Homosexuality and the Singaporean
Bitterness fills my life at times. For those who are interested, you can read my speech on homosexuality here (link no longer exists, sorry). It was a course requirement to speak on a controversial issue this term. Initally, I wanted to do capital punishment, but when some of my classmates started to speak on why we should accept homosexuality as normal, I immediately decided there and then to oppose their views. Interestingly, this speech had to be purely secular, with no religious inclinations to be included. It was a challenge to put aside God’s law and find out whether there were other points of view on this. What I am trying to say here is that we Christians do not accept homosexuality as normal because the Bible tells us so. But to non-Christians, the Bible sounds like a fabrication of Puritans and narrow-minded people. But to cut the long story short, I got my most convincing arguments from Christian writers, who debated on the importance of natural law and moral reasoning.
So why the bitterness? Because I had one friend who, though being a follower of God, remarked that I am narrow-minded in not being able to accept homosexuality as normal. (Sorry, you can scold me later) I argued long and hard with him on this, but ultimately I was bitter because I was deemed as a narrow-minded Christian, by a fellow believer. What does it entail to be a Christian, I ask? To follow God’s Word, that is one of the major pillars of our faith. What happens when we compromise the Word? Should we trust the Word completely? Is it outdated? Was I wrong to follow the Bible’s teachings?
But of course, we know now that there needs to be proper interpretation of the Word. Things like slavery have to be seen in the proper light. But homosexuality, along with other forms of deviancy is something that hardly changes over the centuries. It is not a permanent feature of societies to have slaves, but homosexuality, along with murders, bestiality and the like are present in all societies and at all times It’s just an obvious example of the fallen nature of man, be him Jew or Gentile.
Of course I had support from other Christians on my speech, but I was deeply worried about my inability to follow the Word faithfully at all times, after this incident.. And it didn’t make me read the Bible more regularly, it just planted seeds of doubt in my head about the lives of other Christians. And I keep reminding myself that I am in no position to judge other people, though I think we unconsciously to it all the time. I hate myself when I realise the contempt or unhappiness that I feel when I judge others based on their behavior. And it doesn’t help that my ego is the size of Hong Kong. This is something which I must really rein in.
The book that Junyu gave me last Christmas, The Jesus I Never Knew, provides a fascinating analogy to us judging other Christians on their behavior. We are no better than the Pharisees and the Sanhedrin when we judge other Christians, based on their actions, denominations or even appearance. Who wants to be a Pharisee, infamous persecutors of Jesus Christ?