Thursday, 18 July 2013

Preparing for a "Good Death"

Well we were to do a group project for Christian Theology class. We were to have a presentation on how to prepare church members/ Christians/ congregation for a "Good Death". 

In our group discussion we realized that we never actually gave any thought to death before. We got hold of a Church calendar and scanned through it only to find it was full with activities. Before we realized we too were planning activities for our "Death Seminar":   
  • Writing ones will - what goes to who after life ends
  • Lying in a casket
  • Making peace with self and others
  • Making peace with God
  • How one wants their funeral to be, songs to be sung etc…

We realized that if we talked about death throughout our church calendar Christian message will be depressing. So we decided to switch things a bit. We thought to look at the opposite and define a “Good Life” - to get a good perspective on "Good Death".

A good life to me is like a good marriage. In marriage you have a husband and a wife. In life you have God and a mortal (human). In marriage the husband and wife are united by a third cord – God. In life God and mortal are reconciled by Christ. 

In marriage the couple may face challenges and hard times, riches and poverty, sickness and good health but they make it through rough times till death do them apart – that’s a good marriage. 

In life it is the mortal who faces challenges and disappointments, plenty and none, love and rejection but throughout life’s struggles God is by the mortal’s side – never to leave or to forsake through death and beyond– that’s a good life – a great life indeed.

So we concluded that if one wants to have a good death, he or she needs to have a closer walk with God revealed in Christ and enjoy a good life. Christ did not promise a life with bed of roses. But he did say that he will never leave or forsake (Deu 31:6)

Therefore a Good Death = Good Life. 

This should be our motivation to prepare our congregation for a good death - life with Christ, for a good life with Christ will lead to a good death in Christ. And Christ offers a whole good deal not just for life on earth but eternity. Of course writing ones will and what they want for their funeral and etc… will make life easier for the family and friends they leave behind - they wont live to see the arrangements anyway. 

Well, so if Good Death = Good Life. My question to you is this, "Is your life Good"? Well you know that whatever you do you will never match up. And you know that because you have tried it all. Haven't you?  We can try to be morally be good but when we face God, our good works don't count. The Bible says, we have all sinned and fallen short of God's glory (Romans 3:23). God our creator is Holy. The only way we can face God is by being reconciled to him through his son Jesus Christ. The Bible says for God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). Since Jesus has already paid the penalty, the price of our sins and given us all a new beginning, why not accept him in our life and invite him to live in our heart? Why not let him be our Lord and Saviour? 

Jesus not only died but rose again after 3 days of being buried in a tomb. He resurrected. He defeated death If you are in Christ and Christ has defeated death do you have to be afraid of death? NO, you don't.

Since Jesus has already paid the penalty, the price of our sins and given us all a new beginning, why not accept him in our life and invite him to live in our heart? Why not let him be our Lord and Saviour?

Monday, 29 April 2013

Christianity and Eschatology

If Christianity be not altogether thoroughgoing eschatology, there remains in it no relationship whatever with Christ.” (Karl Barth in his commentary on Romans)

I agree with the statement though I think it sounds good in Christian books and commentaries but not so much in a Christian's life. Our Churches don't preach much about the second coming of Christ and doesn't teach on how to prepare for it. Sometimes I think Christ's coming is not anticipated. We are so lost in our day to day Christian life and building up our character charts that we forget that Christianity = Eschatology. Will we Christians be caught by surprise when Jesus returns? Every generation thinks that the message of second coming is not for them but for the coming generation. If Christianity is eschatology why isn't the church preparing for it? Why isn't it preached with urgency? Why isn't the church eager to meet the bridegroom?

This is like a scenario where the husband has left home for business and put his wife in-charge of the household, of his possessions and property and of his Children and servants too. The wife manages everything and waits eagerly for her husband's return. As days turn to months and months to years the wife got herself busy with day to day tasks and managing the household. She thinks of her husband from time to time but doesn't talk about him much. Their bedroom has now become her bedroom and his things are overshadowed by her things. One day when the husband returns I wonder if he will be able to recognize his own house, his own room or even his wife for instance. 

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

The Names of Christ

I have always been fascinated by the many different 'names' of Jesus used in the Scripture. Each of them adds a significant shade of meaning to the multi-faceted attributes of Christ - and helps us understand and know Him more. One cannot deny: There is power in the Name of Jesus!

In Isaiah 9:6, four important names of Jesus were revealed (i.e. Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace).

The name 'Wonderful Counsellor' might be the easiest to digest and identify with - since even non-believers would, most of the time, agree that Jesus' teaching is 'good', and He seems to be a 'wise teacher', Someone whom we can receive counsel.

However, for the second name, contrary to what the Muslims and Jehovah Witnesses claim (that Jesus is not God), the verse so-clearly declare that Jesus Christ is the 'Mighty God'! There is not doubt about it. He is God, and not just any God, but the mighty God.

The third name is the most intriguing to me. If I'm not wrong, I believe this is the only time in the Bible where Jesus is actually referred to as 'Father'. (The closest it got in the New Testament was when Jesus said that He and the Father are one - but never has Jesus held any title/name with the word 'Father' in it). A theological discussion at this point might be helpful (or not?) and it could go deep and/or off tangent, but I believe the reason Jesus was called 'Father' is exactly because He and the Father are one. This is in fact an astounding verse that shows the intimacy and intricacy of the Father-Son relationship in the community of the holy Trinity.

And last but not least, I think the fourth name is what many of us subconsciously tend to downplay when we exalt Jesus as the Mighty God. Just as the Lion of Judah, Jesus is also the Lamb of God. Hence, just as the Mighty God, He is also the Prince of Peace. We need to hold the names in tension of each other for a full worship of God (relishing God in both fear and love), and for a better comprehension of the operation of His will in our world today.

How about we learn to meditate upon one name of Christ each week?

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Creation V/S Evolution

On the 14th of January, Oliver was invited to represent Christianity in an Inter-Faith Dialogue on the topic of ‘Creation vs. Evolution’ at a university near Kuala Lumpur. The other two representatives were from the Islam and Atheist (i.e. no religion) backgrounds. The event was attended by over 400 students from four universities around the region. Each speaker was given 20 minutes to speak on their position (with Oliver speaking on Creation from the book of Genesis – a Christian’s perspective), followed by about 1.5 hours of ‘Question & Answer’ time – whereby the students were free to ask any questions to any speakers.

Oliver said that the experience has been very rewarding and satisfying – especially seeing that after the event was over (almost at 11pm), about 10 students (including a few from other faith) stayed back to ask more questions and chat about God and Creation. All glory belongs to God! J