No one had expected that the recent incident of the insensitive comments by Senior Pastor Rony Tan from Lighthouse Evangelism Church would have resulted in such a severe public backlash.
That said, I do believe Pastor Tan never did intend to be demeaning or insulting towards the beliefs of Buddhism or Taoism.
Nonetheless, lessons can be drawn from this incident. And below are some of my personal learning points:
1. The influence of new media
Pastor Tan subjected himself to the online community when the videos with his inappropriate remarks were uploaded on the church’s website.
Unknown to many, he was hauled by the Internal Security Department (ISD) after it had first appeared on Hardware Zone’s online forum which eventually escalated to the authorities.
This incident is a fine example how the new media has become a powerful tool that can either work for you or against you. And it is imperative that we as Christians learn how to use it effectively and strategically with the purpose to engage as salt and light.
2. Be a responsible communicator
I believe being responsible is a better description than being careful when in comes to communication. We not only need to be mindful with what we communicate, but how we communicate. And this is especially so when there is a wide audience who are listening, watching or reading what we’re communicating.
Whether it is on the pulpit, through the media, in a group or with your spouse and even through social media sites like Facebook or blogs, we need to consider the impact of what we want to communicate. And more importantly, as best as we know how, reflect Christ in us with our communication whether in words or in deeds. (c.f. Colossians 4:6, 1 Peter 3:15-16).
3. Let the Church be known for what She stands for
This is another unfortunate incident that has not helped to mitigate the negative perceptions that people have towards God, the Church or Christians in general. You may read this as a reference to some of the general perceptions.
It is time that the Church of Jesus Christ gets to be known for what She stands for rather than for what She is against. And what the Church stands for is LOVE. We need to be known for loving people radically just as how Christ did so and does so.
Till now I can recall how I was won over and reconciled to God, and it was not theology that persuaded me. It was LOVE.
I was drawn to God by Christ’s unconditional love in spite of my sins. He literally love me out of sin and darkness, and I believe that this is how the Church ought to demonstrate His word and be known for, in order to truly advance His Kingdom.