After the Singapore former premier passed away, I read so much about him in the media. I am inspired by his contribution to Singapore and even the world at large. I also read about what the critics said about him. Though he was not a Christian, on earth it was a life well lived. I choose to be inspired by the life of this late premier. I read about him when I was a teenager, and then, as a pastor in my younger years. I followed news about him in the media. He was quite a thinker and of course he was very much a doer also! All the ideas that went into developing Singapore may not be all coming from him. He inspired me to write this article on where the thinkers are in the Methodist church of Malaysia!
Why do I have this heart cry? It is simply because we are not really (though we have lots of doctorate holders, few of us are real thinkers) training and producing disciples who can help us to think far into the future (say in 20 years’ time) about what a Christ-like church should be and how the church should be equipped and prepared to face the present and forth coming political, moral, economic, and social issues. (I may face the mistake of being presumptuous when I write a statement like this. I want to face this risk, rather than, just keep silent about what Jesus Christ my Lord has put in my heart.) Science and technology are so advanced, the internet is widely used and accessible and we need thinkers who are biblical who come out with brilliant ideas to address the issues.
What I mean is not referring to a thinker like Lee Kuan Yew who was good legally, politically, and economically. May I share with you my ideal of a Christian thinker? I shall describe this person from a biblical view point, touching on his/her qualities. I pray that Jesus will raise this kind of disciple in our Methodist church. I also hope to suggest how to produce such thinkers.
a Christian thinker
1. I strongly believe that a Christian thinker should be so visionary that he is able to see beyond his life time. Take for instance, the social, geographical, political, economic and religious landscapes of Malaysia and the world at large, he or she can see the coming issues and provide researched solutions. This will ensure salvation and discipleship in Christ are always relevant and meeting the needs of mankind.
2. We need Christian thinkers who are bold and are faithful to use the Bible or Jesus Christ as the word becomes flesh as the only basis for fundamental truth with regards to origin of man and ultimate salvation of mankind. He or she is not only courageous to write, research and speak out on the truth about issues and how to overcome them, the person must be ever ready to even sacrifice one’s life for what he believes.
3. This Christian thinker must be so down to earth that the solutions he suggests for the issues must include a mechanism to carry out the solutions.
Suggestions to find
such Christian thinkers
1. We really have to go through the tough process of raising Disciples of Christ-likeness. We must not only produce programs that train Christians to become leaders, pastors and missionaries, and people who are well equipped to serve Christ in the Church and in the market place. We have to try hard to do this and we must continue to do it for it is definitely in the right direction. But, let us not stop there. We need to go a step further, our programs (be it offered by the church, theological colleges, para-church organizations or any Christian institutions) should include targeting our disciples of Christ not only to be doers of God’s word but also very much to be Christian thinkers with the above qualities. They can be called scholars in their expert fields. We need not have thousands of them around for now, though we can work towards it in the long term. For now, we need to produce say for example, 50 to 100 of us.
2. We can identify the kind of thinkers we need in this generation and the next generations. We have to make sure there are candidates who are in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and even 60s available for such training exercise.
3. These people can be targeted to specialize in their expertise on economy and agriculture, politics, theology and religions (such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Chinese folk religions, indigenous traditional beliefs), science, environment, and education. This list is just an example. When these thinkers are available, they can establish ideas and offer alternative ideas and values to the present life style and values. They will act as powerful ‘speakers’ of the church that can mould how the church should transform our multi ethnic society.
4. Our leaders of all levels must regard the need for Christian thinkers as something urgent and give it a priority.
We may be doing things of God’s agenda in every sense for now and then, some of us leaders who love Christ and His Church may also be planning for long term development of our church. But, have we realized we need to start the ball rolling to produce Christian thinkers?