Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
After watching the Indian movie “PK”, many of my friends (whether Christian or not) praised it for being realistic and emotionally engaging. It set a new record in Indian box office and was highly controversial in India. Those who liked the movie enjoyed it immensely, some hated it enough to sue. It is rumored that another Indian movie “OMG” (Oh My God!) is even better than “PK”: the shop of an Atheist shopkeeper was destroyed in an earthquake and the insurance company refused to pay. He therefore came up with an idea to sue God, but no lawyer would take up the case. Then he recalled that people from various religions claim that they could speak for and defend God, so they could represent God. And the litigation began….
One quote from the movie “PK” is particularly remarkable “There are two kinds of God, one is our creator, and the other is created by us. The second kind of God is like men, insignificant, deceitful, greedy, dishonest, favours the rich while despise the poor, compliment-seeking, but like to threaten others over small matters”. It is a quote that many would agree with, but after laughing at the false prophets it is discovered that we love living with the God we created, the God that suits our needs. The true God is too difficult to understand and accept. Some even went to great length to “protect” God with violence, both good and bad men are killed!
Coming to think of it, is religion used to defend the oppressed, or to oppress the defendless? Here’s a myth: does religion bring war or peace? The immediate reaction may be that, those who created war were not true believers, such as the Crusades, Hitler, the killing between Protestants and Catholics, colonial occupation, and the Islamic State. But in fact their hatred, vile thoughts, and competitiveness can also be created by our religious belief. This is very common. Though we may not be moved to kill by these thoughts, but the damage could be deep. Were these not believers? And what kind of God do we believe?
A research report published1 about a year ago attracted quite some attention. The report tried to answer five questions about the relationship between peace and religion. One of which was whether religion was the main cause for war. The answer was negative. In the 35 wars that occurred in 2013, 40% of them were not related to religion, and the rest were caused by a number of other factors. This result was consistent with similar researches. But we must note that, except in Western countries where religion is separated from politics and culture, to most other countries religion is an inseparable part of everyday life.
Religious beliefs can directly or indirectly cause conflicts, atheists can also cause massacre. But how does true peace happen? “Shalom!” (meaning peace in Jewish) does not only mean the lack of war. It refers to being whole, good health, well-being, and safe, with perfection and completeness. Though many claim to be peace-lovers, how many of us are peace-makers? We are afraid to take up this role! Yet there was one in our history who set an example for all of us. Personally I do not believe Christianity can bring world peace, but in many of those bitter conflicts of the past, the Church could dissolve the most deep-rooted hatred. Those were not works done by men, but by the forgiveness of Christ!
The partner organisations of CEDAR often find themselves in situation of conflicts. There are societies of different religions in India, the political parties in Nepal and Bangladesh struggle against each other, the never-ending Civil War in Myanmar. The situation in Middle East worsens every day. Our Christian partners, being a minority population, continue to serve the oppressed regardless of their religion to bring messages of reconciliation.
“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility… thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household” Ephesians 2:14-19
CHAN Nim Chung