The following is a comment from a reader.
It was unfortunate for ASC and for Chak that the late BAV’s last sermon was shown this morning in the 7.30am English Service. What was Chak thinking? If Chak thought that showing the video will gain him brownies points, well, the late BAV is not around to reward him. If Chak thought that he can antagonize and make more enemies and create more animosity between him and the congregation, well, it was a resounding success! Instead of working towards reconciliation and moving forward, Chak seems to be stuck in the past.
As for the sermon, let me try to make some sense of what the late BAV wanted to say:
1. He started off by saying that someone from Tawau asked him a question about why he was suffering. He then said that this sermon was his answer.
2. He began by stating “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil 1.21). Strangely, apart from stating it, he never expounded it nor did it come back to it.
3. He then went on to talk about a few unrelated things seemingly disconnected to the stated topic and eventually spoke about the incident of missing offering collection in a local church – Christ the King (for those uninformed). To my horror, he pointed out that it was a “she” who has taken the money; now a lot of people will be making an educated guess as to the identity of the person. He then portrayed himself as the hero who saved the day. This he did, according to him by likening the situation to the women caught in adultery that was brought before Jesus. In the end, Jesus did not condemn her as none of her accusers dared cast the first stone. What he essentially said is that since we are all sinners, we should not condemn other sinners in the church. I am not sure if he was trying to refer to himself who is the “suffering” subject of the sermon or the “she” who stole the church money?
4. The topic of Job suffering then came up for mention. The Late BAV’s reading of the life of Job is that he “served God for nothing”. How he derived or arrived at this understanding is not explained but he adds that “serving God for something meant serving the something”. The late BAV then went on to describe his sickness and the suffering is experienced. This culminated in him equating suffering to God taking away everything until nothing is left. However, he contend that he has not come to the point that nothing is left but there is still something.
Here, we must ask if this is a Biblical understanding of suffering? 1Chronicles 29:14 “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you”, Which has become what we recite every Sunday for our offering reminds us that EVERYTHING comes from God! As such, it is not quite correct to say that God is taking away from us resulting in suffering. In addition, Rom 5:3-4 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.So, suffering is part and parcel of Christian life, and rather than God taking away something from us, God is actually producing something in us.
The late BAV then went on to talk about “giving everything” and an often repeated story (real or otherwise) of a South African man who asked that he be allowed to get “chain” from the offering bag. At this, the late BAV gave his characteristic “shouting” about the need to give everything and that he has been challenged time and again to give everything. The “shouting” was impressive but maybe overstated and the idea is nothing but imposing man’s will or burden on others. This is evident in the life of the late BAV himself who did not forfeit his share of the Menggatal land sale to the church. We remember the old widow with the two mites, but we should be careful to make it a command or doctrine or principle. We should be even more careful to “shout” an idea into people’s life when we are not prepared to do it ourselves.
5. The late BAV can be seen panting for air after these strenuous vocalization and tears, interestingly accompanied this part of the sermon. After repeating these things a few more times and stating that he needs to move on to the second point, he finally did. For the second point, he seems to be saying that we need to live in “the way of the cross” or to “pick up our cross”. No mention of Jesus’ command that we “deny ourselves and pick up our cross and follow Him”. Almost no explanation or application or illustration for this second point. The sermon then ended with words for people to feel good or encouraged.
Well, what have we learn? It sounded like a Christian sermon, spoken in a Christian Church, Bible passages were referred in passing, motivational word for people to be Christian were sprinkled, but CHRIST was not at the center of the message, BAV was.