14446065-waving-malaysian-flag--eps-v-10-file-and-a-6800-x-4500-pxl-with-clipping-path-preview-jpg--transpareFinally, Prime Minister Najib has dissolved parliament and called for the 13th Malaysian General Election. It has been a long wait. But some waits are inevitable. Like waiting for a baby to be born. So we had to wait for the birthing of a new Malaysia. I am waiting for the Election Commission to fix the exact date of the election so that I can make travel plans. That’s me and many other Malaysians living outside the country.

We are long overdue for a new Malaysia. We are long overdue for a move away from race-based politics. We are all Malaysians! We are long overdue to move away from a country where corruption is assumed and part of our culture. We should be ashamed that this has been allowed to go on for so long. Was anyone really surprised by Global Witness’s expose of corruption in Sarawak (https://www.globalwitness.org/insideshadowstate)? How much of our national resources has been stolen by those elected to lead us and care for the nation? How can we not weep? How can we not be moved to do what we can?

We are long overdue for a truly Malaysian Malaysia, not a Semenanjung (West Malaysia)-centric Malaysia. We are long overdue for a government that truly believes in human rights for all and especially for minorities. We are long overdue for a government that truly respects the constitution as the authoritative document for how the nation is governed. We are long overdue for change.

We are not stupid. A change of government may mean some chaos in the short term. It will be the price we pay for a better Malaysia. Births are difficult. And we have no illusions about the Pakatan Rakyat (People’s Alliance — the coalition in opposition). This is no perfect coalition by any means and there are serious questions yet unanswered as to how the component parties will work together and govern the nation. But we have a choice to make at a given point in history. We deal with real choices in a real world, not ideal choices in some dream world. Neither coalition is problem free. Which coalition is closer to the values we want to see in our nation? Followers of Jesus must not ask the wrong question. We do not ask if Jesus is behind Barisan Nasional (National Front — the government of the day) or the Pakatan Rakyat. We ask which of the coalitions are closer to Jesus’ values.

We have no guarantees. We do not know who will win the election. God is sovereign over history. He makes the calls. Our job is to be faithful. Our responsibility is to do the right thing. Whether there will be a change of government this time round or not, we must be part of the right trajectory, the right direction. God may surprise us yet. Who really believed that the Berlin Wall would fall? Or that there would be so many significant changes in the previous General Election in 2008? Still, our hope is in God, not in a particular result and as always we do what is right and leave the results to Him.

What are followers of Jesus to do in light of the coming election?

1. We are to love. The Christian life is defined by the twin loves for God and neighbour (Mark 12:29-31). We do what we do because we love the Lord and we love the people of our nation. We do not indulge in the politics of hatred. We speak with conviction and indeed with Godly anger against evil. But our wellspring must be love. It needs to be mentioned that we have brothers and sisters who are convicted to serve and support a group that we do not agree with. We must continue to love them and protect their dignity even if we don’t agree with their convictions.

2. We are to pray. This may be the unique contribution of the church to God’s purposes in history. It will be harder to pray quietly in our closets when the excitement of the political tussle is upon us. But we know there are principalities and powers behind those who do evil and we must pray against those powers and their influence in all parties (Ephesians 6:10-20).

3. We are to act. There are many things we can and should do. We must vote. We must encourage others to vote. We must speak up on what we believe. We must enter into respectful dialogue with those who are serious about the exchange of ideas. We can volunteer to be polling agents. Some will be called to stand for office. We can financially support the causes we support. We can volunteer our time. We must pray and we must act.

There are those within the church who question why we seem to be more excited about politics than about preaching the gospel. I take this critique seriously. We need to, because the root problem of the human condition is sin and the only solution to that problem is the gospel of Jesus Christ. The world is not divided between “before 13 GE” and “after 13 GE” but before the Cross and after the Cross. The centre of human history is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus’s message was the good news of the Kingdom, inaugurated by His first coming, to be completed at His return. Our ultimate hope is in this Kingdom. Therefore we must never compromise our commitment to share the gospel and to make disciples. This must be something that always excites us (Ephesians 6:18-20).

In the meantime however, we pray “Your (God’s) will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10b). That means we must also do what we can to see heavenly values realised on earth while we await His return (Matthew 6:10a). That means we need to take the coming general election seriously.

This is the word of the Lord:

With what shall I come before the Lord
and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
(Micah 6:6-8 NIV)

Our first calling is to walk humbly with God. But we are also called to act — we are to act justly and to love mercy. May these values guide the people of God in Malaysia in the upcoming election.

Semboyan telah berbunyi,
Menuju medan bakti!

The bugle has sounded,
Towards the field of devotion/service!