Thanks to Bomoh Ibrahim Mat Zin, two coconuts bumping into each other have never been so popular. The controversy surrounding the missing flight MH370 has arguably brought out the best and the worst of people. Many are so ready to blame and to criticize whoever they can spot, from the Malaysian government, the airport immigration officers, the pilots, and now this came to the scene unexpectedly.
Bomoh Ibrahim Mat Zin was accompanied by several assistants last Wednesday at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport to perform some sort of ritual aiming to help locate the missing plane. They also told reporters that they aimed to “weaken the bad spirits so the rescuers can find the plane”. The BPS (Bomoh Positioning System) includes bumping two coconuts together, three people rowing on the floor with wooden oars, and one person looking into two bamboo sticks emulating a pair of binoculars. I suppose the Bomoh would never need to worry about losing their car keys or their wallets as long as they have two coconuts ready.
I know I am having a go at them, not because they are silly, simply because I like to have a go at anyone :). However, I have to admit that there are a few things I admire about Bomoh. Don’t worry! My Christian conviction will dictate that I would never bring two coconuts onto the pulpit at church on a Sunday service (or knowing me, I probably will).
There are at least three things that all of us can learn from Bomoh, and the title of this post suggests that to some extent, principally, we should imitate Bomoh.
Firstly, they act out their belief/conviction.
What they believe maybe silly. It might not make any sense. However, we have to at least respect that it is what they believe, and unlike many people who only give lip-service to their convictions, this Bomoh crew act out what they believe.
I know a lot of Christians who just claim to be ones but their lives do not suggest any resemblance to their Lord Jesus Christ. By the way, I might be very well one of them. We say that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, but in our lives, we seek another way, we believe in other truths, and we try to find other sources of life. We say that Jesus forgives our sins, but in our lives, we cannot forgive others, and we perpetually carry our guilt and shame with us. We believe that Jesus redeems us and has purchased our lives with His blood, but we live as if our lives are still ours to live, not Jesus’.
In fact, it is not just Christians whose lives might be contradicting to their beliefs. I also know a lot of atheists who just give lip-service to their God-denying conviction. If people are truly atheists, they must not get involved in any endeavour that tries to add meaning to this life, because they must admit that life is meaningless. If people are truly atheists, then they must not condemn any brutal crimes because there is no basis for right and wrong. If people are truly atheists, then they should cheat on their wives, they should murder people that they don’t like, and they should not care about any consequence whatsoever, because there is no reason whatsoever to follow any moral codes. But we know many atheists who are not like that. To some extent, we are glad that most atheists are not like that. This world will be a crazy place to live, otherwise.
My point is that many people believe one thing but live another way. At the very least, the Bomoh acts out their conviction, or at least that part of their conviction.
Secondly, they seize the opportunity.
It might be marketing. They might have been invited by Malaysian government. They could well be doing it out of their initiative. Or perhaps all of the above. Regardless, they seize the opportunity to make their belief known worldwide. They seize the moment to tell the world that they exist and that they have a voice in this world.
In the midst of growing hostility toward religions in general, or Christianity in particular, many Christians are afraid of coming out of their ‘closet’ and declare to their friends, workmates, and family members that they follow Jesus who lived 2000 years ago, died for their sins, and rose again from death. Chances are we let many opportunities pass us by when we should have been able to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.
“At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” – Colossians 4:3-6
If we believe that the gospel, and only the gospel, saves, then we should seize any opportunity to declare it to others. The Bomoh’s belief system has perhaps been found wanting by many. But kudos to them, they see an open door, they walked through it, and the world now know that Bomoh exists. It is up to the world, of course, to respond, and it seems like they are not even slightly embarrassed, which leaves us to the next point.
3. They are not ashamed of their conviction.
Not many would know the details of their belief system. We might not even know why the coconuts, the oars, and the bamboo sticks. But we know one thing. They performed the ritual and they are not embarrassed by it. They even looked proud. There is no indication that they were ashamed. I doubt that they would say to each other, “I think it’s gotta be four coconuts. But it looks silly, la. So, maybe only two is enough la. The world is watching, you know. So, we go with two. Four is a bit too embarrassing already.” I don’t think so.
Apostle Paul says in Romans 1:16-17: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed…” Jesus also says in Luke 9:26: “For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”
Both Jesus and Paul knew that our belief system might sound absurd. The fact that a Messiah suffered and died on a humiliating cross is a stumbling block to the Jews, and the reality of a bodily resurrection is foolishness to the Greek. However, to Jesus, belief in Him is the key to enter His Kingdom and eternal life, and to Paul, belief in the gospel of Jesus Christ is what saves us from eternal condemnation. Both invite us not to be ashamed of this Good News.
So, are you going to be like the Bomoh (replace their conviction with your conviction)? Are you going to live out your belief, make it known, and convince people to believe what you believe? Or are you going to stand at the sideline, not doing anything, while criticising those who are actually living out their convictions?
In this light, the Bomoh are actually to be admired to that extent. So, get your coconuts ready, bump them to each other, cut them open, sip the juice, eat the tender flesh, and pray for the safety of the passengers of MH370.
- I am not Ashamed of the Gospel, am I?
- You Gotta Have Faith
- The Marks of Spiritual Maturity – Identity