Stay Above The Fray
by Rev. Eu Hong Seng
With the advancement of the net with its many benefits, comes the slime of the devil.
The recent CFM Christmas function, attracted much misunderstanding and mud slinging over the requests of an over enthusiastic aide at the Prime Minister's office (PMO), to remove crosses and not to sing hymnals. Today, the misunderstanding is clarified and the issue resolved but we must not miss out on the many lessons therein.
During the high tea, I had the privilege to be seated in the front and from where I was seated, I could see the crucifixes on the grilled door of the archbishop's office, behind the Prime Minster as he made his speech. And Christian songs were sung.
The Catholics obviously "did not comply" nor were the CFM compliant. To be so bold as to take the government to the courts over the Allah issue and to seemingly balk at such requests would definitely be inconsistent. And the Christian leaders were not.
As I reflect on what has happened, I can't help but conclude we have reached a new low in investigative reporting. Nowadays it would seem that if something is not denied, then it must be true. All one has to do is sit tight and wait for denial. Failing which, it must be "true." Also the rule of the day seems to be: "criticize first" then apologize later. Better still, if proven wrong, just keep quiet.
With the advancement of wireless technology, it does seem that just about anybody can say anything. Consequently private opinions become public too easily, and therein we see growing disrespect for boundaries. What used to be the prerogatives of authorities, be it spiritual or secular, now technocrats, journalists, mothers and mavericks can all have their say. I am all for freedom of speech, but not at the expense of respecting boundaries. Things would definitely have been "less messy" if we all waited for our Church leaders to say what needed to be said. With the growth of the net, it does seem like the days of Judges are upon us, where everyone did what is right in their own eyes.1
The political, and unfortunately the church culture as well, are increasingly debased.
I also see a poor substitution of clever words for character and spirituality. Yes, anybody can say anything and everything. The recent fiasco saw a non Christian accusing some Church leaders for licking "a....."2 This is not unexpected but the sad and unfortunate fact is that this spurred some Christians to join in to chastise the Church publicly. Although sometimes well written and cleverly argued, but I beg that we the Church do not ignore the character of the people who are "Dioptrephes-like" who prate against the Body with malicious words.3
I would further ask "what happened to 'grace'?" Even if one is "right," what happened to "walking in grace?" Armed with blogs, twitters and facebooks, instead of "turning the other cheek," they relentlessly attack all and sundry. It does seem that no cheek is safe in today's angry climate.
Lastly, I must honestly and shamefully say, for some to call upon the PMO to apologize is a sure manifestation of immaturity of a segment of the Church. The Bride has forsaken her comeliness, taken on a neo-political stance and begun to talk like any political party. Well, now that we know the truth, who has taken the first step to apologize to the aggrieved? Like in the "snakes and ladders" game, with the unfortunate throw of the dice, we have been bitten by the serpent (of slander) and we are back at the bottom. What a way to end 2010 and begin 2011!
One author once said that public critics often "don't know the whole truth," "have already made up their minds" and "don't really care about you" but only in expressing their opinions. Hence, he advocates that we should avoid wasting time in responding to "public criticism."
There is much truth there. Let us choose to stay above the fray.
1 Judges 17:6; 21:25.
2 Actual word used but too impolite to repeat.
3 3 John 9 I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us.10 Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church. 11 Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God. NKJV