Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Plea to My Students: Translating Our Faith into Social Action

When I hear Christians, especially Christian students, a lot of them, deep down inside their hearts, want to be heroes, who long to change the world for Jesus. But many get burned out and discourage after a while because they don’t feel one person can make a difference. This is the truth that I want you who think the same to understand that: Jesus saved you and me so that He could work through us to accomplish things that He want to have done in this world. Jesus saved us in order that we might be agents of reconciliation, justice and mercy in the world. Jesus saved us to make a difference.

After someone knew that I work fulltime in student ministry he said to me, “I know that today’s young Christians could change the world.” “Yes,” I responded. Then added, “But they don’t know how to do it. Theology without methodology is ineffective. We must teach them what, why, and how.” Open our eyes! Whether you realize or not, today we actually have more opportunities than ever before to get involved in social action of some kind. There are lots of opportunities to show to the world that our faith in Christ is alive and God is living in and with us through social actions. “Love God” which is invisible to the unbelievers’ eyes must be translated by (or is the motivation to) “love our neighbors” which can be seen.

We can do this through local church or through Christian organization or perhaps side by side with non-Christians through secular charity or through your Christian fellowship in university and campus. Students know that university and college campuses are a focal point for young, idealistic people (like you) to organize and try to effect change. Organize awareness about deforestation in Sarawak, defend the right for every Malaysians to study in the local university and campus, be the voice for domestic violent against women and children, stand up for justice and against corruption in the country by distributing literatures or brochures or setting booth every week, initiate peaceful debates over religious and social issues in Malaysia. Or visit the orphanage and play with them, distribute food for the homeless, paint, repair and build houses for the poor, be volunteers, start a Bible Study group, etc. There are lots of opportunities for us to make a difference today.

Unfortunately, many Christian people feel too busy with college, work and church commitments to get involved in social action. Other than that, if you ask me, I would dare to also add that we are so preoccupied with ‘spiritual’ activities. For examples, young Christians always relate worship with heavy blast of music and no more. Older Christians on the other hand think that the Bible is mainly for study and meditation (just that). Confuse Christians assume that the ability to speaking in tongue is the most important and the highest experience of all. Average Christians assume that going to church every week is enough. And Good News is preached to Christians only (which doesn’t make sense). I know that I’m over generalizing people here, but the main point is that, if we only think that Christianity is only an inside job and faith is exercises within the circle of our comfort zones only, then we really can’t make the different in this world. No wonder young Christians feel discouraged, burn out – and almost hopeless.

I’m not reducing Christianity to some simplistic social gospel. What I’m trying to do is to plea all of us to translating our faith in Christ (if it’s real) into social action. People need to be saved from sin and people need to know that only through faith in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior by God’s grace that they can be saved. This salvation is the ultimate reason (or Kingdom’s agenda) behind all our social actions. But how can they know if the faith that we are proclaiming is real or not? How can they be interested to hear let alone receive the Good News if it doesn’t effect change? Real faith will produce fruits of the Spirit. Real faith will translate into actions. Real faith will make a different in our lives and people’s lives around us.

Throughout the Gospels Jesus calls us to move beyond a desire for personal piety to a desire to serve others. To have our hearts broken by the things that breaks the heart of God. To be filled with righteousness, justice and merciful heart over people around us and the world. Jesus is with us, therefore we can effect change around us.  We need to be willing to stand up and make things happen for God. Jesus reminds us in the Scripture that if we cannot respond to those whom we can see, it is impossible to respond to a God whom we cannot see. Remember: Jesus saved us to make a difference. Yes, we can make a difference!

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