Once again it’s Christmas time. Last year in my article, “The radical meaning of Christmas”, I had mentioned a song by the Hong Kong Association of Christian Music Ministry titled “Who is the Protagonist?” The song asked us who the lead actor is at Christmas: Is it the jolly old man in red known as Santa Claus? Or is it the Son of God born on Earth as the Son of Man, destined to be crucified and become known to all people as Jesus Christ? The song also asked us what the true meaning of Christmas is: Is it the presents and the seasonal festive cheer? Or are the greatest gifts of all God’s forgiveness and freedom from sin and death for all eternity, through the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ? The song reminds us all that Jesus Christ is the purpose and the reason for Christmas, a day that celebrates the birth of the Divine on Earth that will one day grow up to deliver us from the bondage of sin, injustices and death.
In Hong Kong, however, the true message of Christmas is not merely lost but hijacked by supposedly “shepherds of the Lord’s flock”. They proclaimed a message not of hope for deliverance, but urging people to accept enslavement as their due, to accept bondage by the powers-that-be, and to condemn those who actually preached the message of the Lord’s freedoms and righteousness. These wolves in sheep’s clothing, tares in a field of wheat – people such as Paul Kwong, Archbishop of Hong Kong’s Anglican Church, and Michael Yeung, the incumbent head of Hong Kong’s Catholic Church – deliberately blind the people and block their deliverance with their message not of the Son or the Father but of Satan. Each year during Christmas time, they deliver their satanic proclamation while crying crocodile tears, lamenting the schisms rampant amongst people in Hong Kong, telling people of the Lord to be obedient to ungodly powers, and condemning those who would reject these unholy regimes. As an emissary of the Lord, I instead would declare that in Christmas, not only should we refocus on the actual protagonist of the day, but also what He stood for, defended and proclaimed.
Jesus the Maverick
The pro-establishment churches in Hong Kong would have people believe that God and Christ decreed that people should obey their government without question, often citing Romans 13: 1- 5 to justify their claim, except that they never mention the “fine print” that these authorities must be “God’s servant for our good” (Romans 13:4 New International Version). In Psalm 92:15 and James 1:13, it is proclaimed that God will not employ evil means to achieve His ends, which means He will not condone evil actions by authorities upon the people. In fact, throughout the Old Testament, we find that God would send various prophets to speak out against the ruling kings and powers, giving the Lord’s judgement upon a regime’s sinful ways. It is written that a godly ruler or authorities would empower the weak, protect the destitute and champion the people. Since when did the authorities in Hong Kong ever do any of these?
As I had discussed in my previous article on the Christmas message last year, Jesus Himself would flout conventions, sensibilities and laws that are unjust; even His birth on Earth itself holds the authorities in contempt. Jesus’ very birth challenged the ruling powers of the day for kingship, where an angelic host proclaimed His birth as the earthly rulers would for their own newborn, and prophecy of His arrival on Earth had upset Herod the Great to the point of ordering a region-wide infanticide to rid himself of a potential uprising. Jesus’ birth was first celebrated by shepherds, considered dirty by the Jewish authorities of the day for their proximity to animals, and worshipped by three representatives of foreign powers from the east, who lied to and disobeyed the authority of Herod when he ordered them to report to him where Jesus had been born so that Herod could kill Him. Jesus’ mother, Mary, was pregnant before her marriage to Joseph, and would have been stoned to death as was the customs of the day, but Joseph disobeyed the rules when he first chose to cancel the marriage to spare Mary and then to take her for his wife when the angels told him the child is the Son of God.
There was a post online which rightly portrayed Jesus’ life akin to what pro-establishment Hong Kongers today would call “trash youth”: that Jesus had abandoned the family business in carpentry – which would have brought him a very good income – to lead a life of ministry in poverty. Instead of being a good rabbi at the synagogue, Jesus chose to make outrageous propositions and claims that had upset the Jewish religious authorities. Even when Jesus’ family came to persuade Him to stop, Jesus ignored them. He was run out of his own hometown because people there could not accept someone who stepped out of their allotted place in society and then presume to preach what they should do. He mixed with the wrong crowd: prostitutes and adulteresses, Roman collaborators and soldiers, the sick and the diseased, fishermen and the uneducated. He even had members of the Zealots – revolutionary resistance against the Romans – amidst His own “gang”. In the end, Jesus was executed as a common criminal by the Romans, much to His family’s pain and suffering, with nothing to show for His efforts except for His former disciples abandoning Him and his usual crowd of fans nowhere to be seen. Jesus the Maverick was anything but “meek and mild”, and He challenged and mocked the authorities at every opportunity.
Jesus the people person
While He was on Earth, Jesus Christ pointed to the true protagonists of human society: the common people. As He Himself had said – He came not to collude with the rich and powerful; indeed He said these people would be the last in the Kingdom. Instead He came to reach out to the destitute and the lost, and to the everyday people that strove hard to make ends meet but were often subjected to oppression and suppression by the powers-that-be. During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus Christ said that the it will be the common people, not the governing powers or religious authorities, that will inherit Earth. In later sermons, He proclaimed that in the poor and needy would He be found, and woe to anyone who ignores or tramples upon these people.
Even though the protagonist of Christmas is Jesus Christ the birthday boy (Happy Birthday our Lord and Saviour! Hip, Hip, Hooray!), the actual protagonists are the ones He came to save: the people. Anyone in Hong Kong who claims otherwise is Satan’s messenger, not God’s. At Christmas, we all should be happy for being free, not be told we are supposed to be oppressed prisoners wrapped in chains.