Red Sky Over Burma (Myanmar)
The existence of humankind is no accident, nor is the institution of the Church. The place of people in God's created order is superior in every way to the position of every other created form, and the Church's purpose is to allow God to make himself visible through us as we devote ourselves to his work in grateful response to the love he has demonstrated for us.
The purpose of this dissertation is to show that the Church has a responsibility to steward all that God has entrusted to humankind in a manner that is worthy of his name. There are many precursors and implications associated with this sacred charge. First and foremost, the Church must see itself as having a responsibility prevent brokenness by providing guidance and influencing socio-economic development, as well as caring for the spiritual and humanitarian needs of its members and neighbors. Secondly, the Church must accept that the institutions of business and government are established by God for a purpose that we are to participate in.
The Church has distinguished itself in many cultures as that body of people who care deeply for the spiritual, emotional, and often the material needs of the marginalized. Many works of the Church have been developed in response to brokenness, with efforts focusing on individuals, the institution of family, and, to a lesser degree, on the community that surrounds the Church. Little is done that addresses the need for the Church to make God visible within the institutions of business or government. Neither does the Church seem inclined to proactively influence the course of developments in a manner that would forestall the brokenness that results from humankind's attempts to develop what God has entrusted to it without regard for the Creators design. These two behaviors of the Church need to change. It must view the institutions of business and government as part of its area of responsibility, and it must be willing to act courageously to influence how humankind governs itself and develops the environment around us.
There is also another matter that must be addressed that, if left unattended to, will continue to hamstring God's redemptive work among people. In order for the Church to have a respected voice in the public square, it must be characterized first by the kind of brotherly love that Christ told his disciples would be the evidence to those around them that they are his (Jn 13:34-35). Christ also spoke of how a house divided cannot stand. Admittedly, he was speaking of those whose intentions were opposed to the will of God, but the principle is equally applicable to the 'house' that aspires to serve his purposes. Unfortunately, the Church is also known globally for its own brokenness within. This reputation of internal dysfunction also must change.
The chapters that follow are written in response to observations related to the Church's contemporary conduct, as well as its potential to bring God's shalom to a place that is on the threshold of great change; however, the application of the message is much broader than simply what could happen in the Union of Myanmar. This call for transformation is to the Church worldwide, especially throughout the developing nations of the world that are frequently afflicted with inefficiency, corruption, and oppression.
The first chapter provides an introduction to the situation that the people of Myanmar (technically, it is the Union of the Republic of Myanmar) has been dealing with historically, along with some projections of what they are about to experience. Due to its geographic position at the top of the Bay of Bengal, and the strategic importance of its location between China and India, Myanmar has the potential to influence the economic progress for nearly one third of the earth's population. The project of this dissertation, which was done in collaboration with the dissertation of fellow BGU D. Min student Jonathan Naw Tawng
Bakke Graduate University, 2012