Saturday, December 24, 2016

BARU BIAN’S CHRISTMAS MESSAGE 2016




CELEBRATING GOD’S LOVE

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life. ~ John 3:16

Each year around Christmas time, I am reminded of God’s love and His giving to us in this love. Love is, in fact, the golden thread that runs through the bible from time man fell in the Garden of Eden until the very end. Love is the very essence and bedrock of our Christian faith.

In the beginning, as told in Genesis, even as God punished Adam and Eve for their disobedience, he also had a plan to save mankind. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”  ~ Genesis 3:15. In this verse, God’s plan for our salvation was revealed. Even after Adam and Eve fell into sin, God had devised His plan for their Salvation. Through Jesus, “the seed of the woman”, Satan would be defeated (‘crushed’), through Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. But in this process Jesus would be wounded i.e the crucifixion (‘striking of his heel’). Such was God’s love that He would not allow mankind to be condemned without a way of escape, which is trusting in Him and the finished works of Jesus on Calvary.

The message of Christmas is still relevant today, perhaps even more so. It encourages us to emulate God’s love, to live in love daily, to give to others who are in need and less fortunate than us. This Christian teaching is centered on the word ‘love’. I recall the passage in the Bible where a lawyer one day asked Jesus “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said; “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your strength and with all your mind and love your neighbour as yourself”. The lawyer who wanted to justify himself asked back; “And who is my neighbour?” This prompted Jesus to tell the people about the parable of the Good Samaritan where a Levite and a priest walked past an injured man believed to be Jew, but a Samaritan stopped to help him, even though Jews and Samaritans were known to despise each other. When Jesus finally asked the people, “who was a neighbour to the injured man?” the lawyer correctly answered “The one who had mercy on him”. The one who had mercy became known as the Good Samaritan.

We are taught to be concerned about others and to love them, even if they are different from us. Like the Samaritan, we are called to love those who are in need, as they are our neighbours. For Christians, love does not distinguish by race or religion; indeed, it is a concept without boundaries. At this time when many are called to be concerned with only ‘their own kind’, be it in reference to religion, race or community, the Christmas story is relevant and timely. When we are told to keep out of others’ affairs, as they purportedly do not concern us, Christian love and duty behoves us to speak for those who are unable to speak for themselves. Silence is not an option.

The love of God inspires in us a belief that there is reason to celebrate even if at times we do not understand why we are put through trials and tribulations. My legal colleagues and I have just lost a landmark case at the Federal Court that is of great relevance to the natives of Sarawak. All the victories we have won on native customary rights of the people appear to have been obliterated by this one decision. However, I do not see it as an end to our struggle. There is still an avenue for us and we must do what needs to be done, fully believing that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. [~ Romans 8:28]

This newest challenge serves as a powerful reminder that the issues we face daily are but temporal matters. In this imperfect world, we cannot expect perfect results every time. The more significant issue is the Christmas message of love, that God loved us so much that He sent His only son so that we may have eternal life. With this in mind, we must never despair, but proceed with our cause, knowing and trusting that truth and justice will prevail eventually.

I wish all Christians a blessed Christmas and to all, a Happy New Year.

Baru Bian
Chairman, KEADILAN Sarawak / ADUN N81’ Ba’ Kelalan

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