The Lessons from Research for Life

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings. (Proverbs 25:2)

The above verse tells us that God is glorious because He is “mysterious”, whereas a king will become glorious when he is able to disclose a mystery. Being a researcher is everyone’s duty, which is a great privilege, because the way of a researcher is the way of a king.

In this short article, I would like to share a few lessons from my research life and daily routines over the past few months. (It is a perspective of an engineering student).

Research is a long-time process that demands patience, endurance, and persistence. 

Researchers must realize that “nothing great comes easy”. One may not expect an instant good result without any struggles. Oftentimes, we must¬†deal with tedious works, revisit the (same) problems, and exercise our problem-solving skills again and again. As I described in the previous article, research essentially means a “repetitive search”. It is true not only for people who work in science or engineering field, but also for those who study other disciplines, such as music, religions, politics, sports, arts, etc. In this sense, we could say that basically everyone is a researcher.

A simple case is that when you are planning to travel, you must first do a “research” about the locations, transportation, accommodations, foods, etc. In doing so, we must allocate time, energy, and money; we should be ready for a “long suffering” if we want to get the best results and make the most of our journey. To survive this long and rough journey of research, we need to understand what is our motive in the first place. I believe that the basic motive of doing research is curiosity, which will eventually determine our true passion.

In addition, we must however realize that it’s impossible to research everything; just like we can never resolve every problem in life. We might have an unlimited potential, but our time, energy, and priority are all limited. That’s why, we need to keep in mind that¬†even after graduating and holding an academic degree, we may not stop researching. (Now I feel that it’s probably not just a long-time process; it’s a life-long process!)

Research will reveal our personalities and how we deal with problems in life.

We can do research because problems exist, hence the quality of our research will be determined by the extent of problems that we can resolve. The more problems we overcome, the greater impact we make, and thus the higher quality of research we’ll end up with. In a real life, we also have to deal with such seem-to-be-never-ending problems everyday. The way we deal with problems in life will pretty much reflect the way we do research, and vice versa.¬†Our hidden strengths and weaknesses are often revealed by problems, both in life and research. Our characters or personalities are going to be tested by and developed through the problems.

A successful research requires good communication skills and creativity. Think about of how we deliver our ideas, how we collaborate with others, how we organize our thoughts to approach a series of problems, how we cope with our own perfectionism, how we treat our “superior” or “inferior” ones, how we prioritize contribution over recognition, how we can become of a true impact beyond a good impression, and so on…

Research will tell us whether we are an optimist, a pessimist, or a rationalist. The optimists are usually very ambitious toward publication; they believe their works deserve attention and can get published as soon as possible. Meanwhile, the pessimists are normally a type of people who don’t really enjoy “spotlights”; they may like publication, but they don’t actually like publicity (and sometimes get confused by two of them: publication vs. publicity), therefore they are not very eager to build a reputation based on the number of publications. In between these two, the rationalists are those who demand compelling evidences in order to believe any claim or theory; they are usually more concerned with the depth of understanding than the quantity of papers, however they could be pessimistic if neither solid facts nor strong reasoning is provided. We see now that research may reveal whether we are “believers” or “doubters”.

I observe that research may also help us identify ourselves: whether we are a “broad learner” or a “deep learner”; it might tell our preferences when dealing with problems, whether to approach a broad or a deep learning. After all, one good thing is that research is a humbling experience that will encourage us to willingly learn from others and neither rely on our own understanding nor think that we are the smartest person in the world.

Research is preceded by vision and leads to an innovation.

The normal stage of PhD life is to spend most of the first year for an intensive reading (literature review). In this stage, we should learn from “history” of what is already known and what is still missing or remains unknown (i.e. knowledge gaps) in a particular field that we investigate. It is the time when we brainstorm ideas and develop a critical thinking. We are expected to have a good sense to criticize one’s works or publications, to tell whether or not a publication really has a great quality. In short, we should have an ability to examine whether or not any claim or theory is true and thus we are able to distinguish the truth from any misleading information. By the end of this stage, we are expected to have a “big vision” in our own research. Again, this is true not only for research, but also for life, in which we should know what to do as well as why and how we do something. Don’t be upset if your supervisors ask you the same question again and again, “What’s your goal?”

Here is the good news: a great research will lead to an innovation. After we develop our critical thinking and visions, we have a chance to formulate our own originality and novelty. It is now possible for us to be a pioneer, the one who open up a new way and make a breakthrough or ground-breaking research in the particular field of interest. We have seen that the rapid development of technologies, say in electronic devices (like smartphones or computers), is always driven by innovation, developed through research, and initiated by vision. In other words, without critical thinking and curiosity there would be no vision; without vision there would be no research; without research there would be no innovation; without innovation there would be no advancement or progress. It is now true what the Bible says:

Where there is no vision, the people perish. (Proverbs 29:18)

Interestingly, to have a vision, oftentimes we should be able to see the unseen. It is our faith that will determine the “size” of our vision. As I heard someone says, “The eyes of our head give us sight, but the eyes of our heart give us vision“, it is actually important for us to develop faith, not only logic or human reasoning, in doing research and dealing with problems in life. We are to use not only our head, but also our heart.

Putting all together, I believe that we should not have an “anti-criticism” attitude in our minds. A good governance should embrace critics if it desires to progress. Otherwise, the nation will suffer due to its corrupted government (which can’t tolerate any critics and refuse to change or innovate itself). As a final remark: a nation will be blessed if the people are passionate in research.

Vancouver, February 28, 2018

The Lessons from Research for Life



Understanding Chemical Engineering for Life

Hi there, welcome back to Pearls of Mind site. Time flies and it’s been five years for me now since I first started this blog in January, 2013. You might have noticed so far that many of my writings often discuss about personal, spiritual, and political issues. I realize that not all people can relate well to what I had written. Some people might feel interested, but some others might have also disregarded my stories or perspective. I am totally fine with that! ūüôā I would keep on writing and sharing, hoping that at least a little of inspiration would come to you after visiting this site.

Anyway, this year I am going to write more stories and thoughts from my research and work, the field I am currently working on. Hopefully, there are positive values or useful takeaway that can be extracted from here. Alright… in my first blog of the year, I would like to share a little bit of my experience and insight from studying Chemical Engineering, especially for those of you who might be interested to know a little more about a subject of which people often asked me a question, “Why do you learn Chemical Engineering? Are you gonna make a bomb?” ūüėÄ

In the following imaginary interview, you might probably get some general ideas of what Chemical Engineering is about.

How would you define Chemical Engineering?

Chemical Engineering is a study of chemical processes that convert raw materials into useful and higher value products by applying the knowledge of physics, chemistry, and mathematics for investigating material and energy transfer in each unit operation (i.e. processing equipment).

What will you learn more specifically in Chemical Engineering?

Some fundamental concepts include, but not limited to thermodynamics, reaction kinetics, mass transport, and heat transfer. In thermodynamics, we’ll learn about relation between internal energy, heat, and work for a number of molecules at different temperatures and pressures in a system, including the spontaneity of reaction. In reaction kinetics, we’ll study the speed of reaction; how fast the reactant changes into products, which could be affected by temperature, pressure, and energy to activate the reaction. The mass transport studies the movement of molecules participating in a process or reaction; how fast the molecules move is driven by the differences in concentration and/or external energy. The heat transfer studies the flow of energy (in the form of heat), either naturally from high to low temperature region or vice versa with the help of external forces. Material and energy balances is the unique subject only learned in Chemical Engineering (you’ll not learn it in other disciplines).

In addition, we’ll also learn some advanced theories and applications, such as momentum transfer, fluid mechanics, engineering mathematics, computation and simulation, catalysis, reactor design, plant design and the economic evaluation. In short, Chemical Engineering students will learn how to be a designer of chemical processes.

How well does Chemical Engineering relate to people’s life?

Nearly all materials that we use everyday are derived from chemical processes. Clothes, drinking bottles, food packaging, glassware, electronic devices, and all the components of your house are manufactured through chemical reactions. The knowledge of Chemical Engineering also plays a vital role in energy industries. All transportation means, from automobiles, ships, to planes, are driven by fuels, which are produced via complex chemical processes. Even not too far, in human’s body itself also undergoes a variety of chemical reactions every day. As long as we can breathe the air, oxidation process occurs in the cells of our bodies. It is clear now that Chemical Engineering is actually not far away from everyday life.

What is the main role of chemical engineers in the real world?

There are actually diverse job opportunities for chemical engineers. Some people may argue that ideally a chemical engineer should work at processing plant, such as petroleum, cement, textile, or paper industry. We know that most of such industries have also impact on the economic development and political aspect of a country. Moreover, chemical engineers can also contribute to the innovation of technologies through a rigorous research and development. More importantly, chemical engineers play an important role in designing process that can transform underutilized materials into valuable products in a clean and sustainable manner. That’s why, a good chemical engineer should be concerned with both ecofriendliness and cost-effectiveness of a process.

If you could extract the insight from Chemical Engineering lessons, what would that be?

There are two keywords that have taught me a very important life lesson: “process” and “balance.”

First, the process we learn in Chemical Engineering, as already mentioned earlier, is actually about transforming less valuable materials into more valuable materials. This process typically consists of three steps: pretreatment, reaction, and separation/purification. In the pretreatment, raw materials will be selected and pretreated in a physical process, such as heating, cooling, or size reduction, in order to minimize “burdens” in the subsequent steps. In the reaction, materials will be exposed to high temperature and/or high pressure environment; they will absorb or release heat, known as endothermic or exothermic process, in which the bonds between molecules are broken or formed. In the purification step, the products resulting from the reaction will be isolated or separated from the other undesired compounds, such as impurities, unconverted reactants or by-products. Both steps require time and it is hard to imagine that raw materials can be changed into pure products instantaneously. Note that a pure chemical product is reasonably expensive since it was formed through a long, hard, and complex process. Fortunately, there is a substance that can speed up the reaction, called catalyst, which can “magically” reduce the amount of energy required to activate the reaction.

Second, the balance is very important in all the process. This concept is based on the fundamental laws of material and energy conservation. In an ideal process, the amount of input materials should be equivalent to that of output materials. The same is true for energy. All this means that there should be neither accumulation nor losses of material or energy in the process; a good process should not corrupt.

So, what is the life lesson? What can you learn from that?

Life is like the “process”. We used to be like the raw materials; in our old life, we might often feel less valuable and it seemed impossible to be a good person with great impact. However, through a series of process, that is often painful, unpleasant, or inconvenient, we have been growing to become a better person. We might think our circumstances and environment often “heat up” and “pressurize” us so much, however we have been actually transformed into a valuable product after being “purified” from all the impurities in our hearts and minds, such as hatred, envy, anger, and other negative emotions. This is not an instant “process” and often demands our patience, endurance, and persistence. Our characters are shaped along the way; there are some “bonds” we need to make while some others we need to break. Ultimately, when we turn into a “pure product”, our values are so high that people would give respect and honor to us. I believe that prayer and faith can be the good “catalyst” for our life process. (Hopefully, the already good reaction is not reversible) ūüėÄ

Not less importantly, the “balance” is what we always need in the “process” of life. All the blessings and good things in our life are not supposed to accumulate for our own. Our money and talents are to be shared with others, especially those who are in need. We come to this world without carrying anything and we’ll one day leave this world without carrying anything. Knowing this insight, we need to keep every aspect in our life in balance if we want to go through every life process as ideal as possible. For instance, whenever we feel that we had overworked, we can keep the balance by taking a break with some fun or relaxing activities. There is a case when the process is not in balance, for example due to an excessive amount of heat (overheating) that would potentially fail the process. This condition might result in a poor product that is less useful and even rejectable. If you are happy, don’t be so happy that you ignore the other person’s struggles. If you are rich, don’t be too rich that you neglect the poor. If you are religious, don’t be too religious that you become judgmental to others. If you are smart, don’t be too smart that you underestimate the lowly ones. Studying Chemical Engineering is truly a life-transforming experience to me.

I got you!

See you in the next posts.

ChemEng in Life

Please be advised that you can also read the similar contents of this blog for Indonesian versions in the following links:

Menemukan Makna Hidup dalam Teknik Kimia (1)
Menemukan Makna Hidup dalam Teknik Kimia (2)

Vancouver, January 31, 2018

The Attributes of Jesus in the Bible: A Reflection on Christmas

Year by year, on the month of December, we may often hear a question, “What is Christmas all about?”¬†We may also be pondering the real meaning of Christmas, is it more than just a holiday season and time of happiness with family and our loved ones? What does Christmas actually mean to you?

Earlier this month, US President Donald Trump declared that Jesus is the reason for the season. The birth of Jesus, over two thousands years ago, and the story of his incredible life has forever changed the course of human history. Things you may want to know about Jesus has been written in the Bible, the world’s best-selling book of all time.

The uniqueness of Jesus is attributed to his birth (from a virgin woman), his life (with miraculous signs and heavenly authorities), his ministry (to love God wholeheartedly and people unconditionally), his death (to overcome sins and become a perfect, flawless offering to God), his resurrection (to overcome the grave, showing his authority over life and death), his¬†ascension¬†(to prepare eternal home for us, showing his authority in heaven and on earth), and his second coming¬†(to judge the living and the dead and to establish God’s endless kingdom). By this, Christians believe that Jesus is capable of saving people from eternal death, the condition of being separated from God forever.

Now, what does the Bible say about Jesus that makes him so special? There are many names, titles, and characters of Jesus, mentioned either by Jesus himself or by other people in the Bible. The author herein lists some of the biblical attributes of Jesus, which can be enough to prove his matchless nature, so that the readers may be convinced that Jesus is truly incomparable and his name is above all names.

The Word of God

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1, KJV)
He (Jesus) wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God. (Revelation 19:13, NLT)

The universe is created by God through the word. If Jesus is the Word of God, then everything is created through Jesus. Mario Joseph once asked, “Is the word creator or creation?” If the word is creator, then Jesus, as the Word of God, is the Creator. However, if the word is creation, how did God create the word? Let me put it this way: of all the creatures, human is endowed with the ability to communicate through words. People make a living through words, by writing, speaking, listening, and reading. Simply to say, we all can’t live without words! Is it a coincidence that the Bible says in the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God? Why does the Bible correlate the Word with Jesus? If Jesus is the Word of God, then we must acknowledge that he is the source of life!

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6, ESV)

The above verse is widely quoted during Christmas. It is the prophecy of Isaiah, written about seven centuries before the time of Jesus, which has been fulfilled in Jesus, who is a descendant of King David, and whose kingdom is everlasting. Let us now take a look at each of the title of Jesus here.

First, a counselor means “a person trained to give guidance on personal, social, or psychological problems.” If Jesus is the Wonderful Counselor, then he must be an expert to give us wisdom and guidance on any problems we may have. He is able to do that because he has experienced the most terrible suffering ever: the crucifixion; that’s why he totally understands our struggles and pains and he will never despise anyone who come to him. Knowing this truth, we may approach God with a confidence in the name of Jesus.

Second, who said that Jesus is not God? Clearly, in this verse alone, we can see the words “child”, “born”, “son”, and “God” exist together referring to Jesus. If Jesus is the Mighty God, then he must be able to empty himself and become a human. No doubt about that, because Jesus is the Omnipotent God. On the other hand, if Jesus is not God, then there has never been a story of God coming down to earth to lovingly reach out and communicate with his people. We may then think that God is “an indifferent creator” who lives comfortably at his throne in heaven and does not really care about us and what is going on in the world. There had never been a meaningful interaction between God and people or heaven and earth if Jesus were not God.

Third, one of the truth about God is revealed through Jesus, the Everlasting Father. What a privilege to be the children of God that we may call him “Father!” We know that being a parent (in this case, father) is a permanent role we may have in life. One can never say, “He is my ex-father.” Once you become a father, you are a lifetime father. A father is supposed to be the head of family, who is responsible for the welfare of all the members. In the father, children can find joy, love, peace, security, wisdom, and vision. What a personal and intimate relationship we have with God as our Father, the source of everything we need. And even more, what a joy to know that such relationship will last forever!

Fourth, the reconciliation between God and people is made possible through the work of Jesus on the cross. Jesus has become “the bridge”, creating peace between man and his Creator. As we see the world today, horizontal conflicts are everywhere; peace is what people, family, and nations are longing for. In this Christmas, we are reminded that even though the world has been damaged by sin, the coming of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, has given us the ultimate hope for a better life. As the children of God, we are also to be peacemakers wherever He has placed us (Matthew 5:9).

The Lamb of God

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29, NLT)

Jesus has come to earth with a clear mission: to take away the sin of the world. In the ancient times, as indicated by the Old Testament (see the Book of Leviticus), the people of Israel had to offer a various type of offerings to express devotion or thanksgiving to God and gain his approval. The annual ritual of the sin offering to make atonement or purification for all the people foreshadows the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God, who was slain for our redemption from sin. Jesus has died once for all and we have been sanctified through the offering of his body. As a result, it is no longer required for those who believe in Jesus to present any sacrificial offerings for the forgiveness of their sins.

The Good Shepherd

‚ÄúI am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11, NLT)

In Psalm 23, King David declares the Lord is his shepherd, he lacks nothing. In the above verse, Jesus declares himself as the Good Shepherd, who sacrifices his life for the sheep. He has not only talked about the selfless character of a good shepherd, but also proved it with his own life. Clearly, Jesus “practices what he preaches”, he “walks the talk.” This is a very critical lesson, especially for leaders. The most important value a leader must have is integrity; to act in a way that agrees with the things said. In agreement with the title of Jesus as the Lamb God, Jesus has accomplished his mission to take away our sins by laying down his life so that he may take it back again (John 10:17-18).

The Light of the World

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said,¬†‚ÄúI am¬†the light of the world.¬†Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.‚ÄĚ (John 8:12, NIV)

When we sinned against God, we chose to follow our own ways. We trusted in our own plans rather than His. We were walking in the darkness and the eyes of our hearts were blinded by the worldly things, such as selfish ambition, anxiety, envy, pride, and so on. Deep down in our hearts, we long for the light that would enable us to walk in the right path. Christmas brings a good news that the Light of the World has come. Jesus reveals who God really is to us because he is the radiance of God’s glory and the complete representation or exact imprint of God’s nature (Hebrews 1:3).

Human can’t live without light. In nature, we know that sun is the greatest source of light and energy to all creatures. Plants, for example, use sunlight to make nutrients for their growth through a process known as photosynthesis. On rainy and cold days, we miss sun so badly. With the modern technologies, people can use the energy of sunlight to produce electricity through a device known as solar cell. If you study about Physics, you may have learned that light is both particle and wave, the concept of which is known as wave-particle duality. Historically, this concept has emerged as the foundation of quantum mechanics¬†and led to the discovery of electromagnetic waves, such as X-ray, ultraviolet light, infrared light, microwave, etc. Most of the electronic devices that we presently use, like computer, smartphone, and many analytical instruments, have worked on the basis of this principle. Now, can human live without all these devices? Did you realize that? Light is not only about sun! So, is it coincidence that Jesus describes himself in such an unimaginable way that addresses even the needs of people from every generation?

The Source of Living Water

Jesus said to her, ‚ÄúEveryone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.‚ÄĚ (John 4:13-14, ESV)

Can human live without water? In fact, up to 60% of human body is water. Every day we must consume water to survive. Again, is it coincidence that Jesus talked about the spring of water to satisfy our thirst? He not only touches our physical desires, but also our emotional and even spiritual needs. What are we thirsty for these days? Love, acknowledgment, knowledge, money, or else? Jesus promises the spring of water, which refers to the work of Holy Spirit, for whoever drinks it. The first step we must take to drink the water is to open our mouth: be intentional in opening our hearts to him. Once Jesus is in us, he will satisfy the deepest longing of our hearts and we will never be the same person. We will see things differently and our focus will change, from the self-centered minds to the God-centered desires. No wonder Paul, after his conversion, said, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ¬† who lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20) and he focused on the unseen (eternal) things that would bring glory to God, rather than the seen (temporal) things that soon would be gone (2 Corinthians 4:18).

The Bread of Life

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:35, NIV)

After the word, the light, the water, which represent the basic human’s needs, now Jesus declares himself as the Bread of Life. He is concerned with the human’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. He best knows that we all need a freedom to express and communicate through words, to walk this life without fears by light, and to be continually satisfied by water and bread (food). In particular, bread represents the source of energy to run our activities. Again, here we clearly see that Jesus is the source of life, who provides our daily bread (Matthew 6:11). We couldn’t live one day without him. Every day is the opportunity to grow in Jesus as we do what he commands. We find the ultimate joy when we please him.¬†There is no way to be happy in Jesus than to trust and obey.

Messiah, the Christ

The woman said, ‚ÄúI know the Messiah is coming‚ÄĒthe one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.‚Ä̬†Then Jesus told her,¬†‚ÄúI am¬†the Messiah!‚ÄĚ (John 4:25-26, NLT)

Jesus is the long awaited savior of Israel and the world. The term of Messiah (Hebrew) refers to a future Jewish king who will be descended from the line of King David, to be the king of God’s kingdom. According to the orthodox views of Jews, the Messiah will gather the Jews back into the land of Israel. The term of Christ (Greek), meaning “the anointed one,” refers to the savior and redeemer who would bring salvation to the Jewish and mankind. Christians believe the prophecies about the Messiah in the Old Testament have been fulfilled in Jesus because he is the descendant of King David and has come to the world to save those who believe in him.

Immanuel, God with us

Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,‚ÄĚ which is translated, ‚ÄúGod with us.‚ÄĚ (Matthew 1:23, NKJV)

Before the birth of Jesus, people might never think God would like to dwell among his people. Before the death of Jesus, he promised to send the Holy Spirit, who would be with his people forever (John 14:15-17). This promise was later fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost, about ten days after Jesus ascended to heaven. Before his ascension, Jesus declared that he would always be with his disciples, even until the end of time (Matthew 28:20). Christians believe in the trinity: God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, as three Persons of one Being. Putting them all together, we can see the consistency of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit’s intention to dwell with his people forever. Moreover, Paul also confirmed that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in us (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Knowing this truth, we can be sure of two things. First, the concept of trinity is undeniable. Second, Jesus is alive and he is Immanuel, God with us. It is truly a great honor to have God of the universe dwells in our hearts! Thus, we can say, “O come, o come Immanuel!”

The Alpha and the Omega

‚ÄúI am the Alpha and the Omega‚ÄĒthe beginning and the end,‚ÄĚ says the Lord God. ‚ÄúI am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come‚ÄĒthe Almighty One.‚ÄĚ (Revelation 1:8, NLT)

We are born to this world without knowing exactly where we come from (origin), why we are here (meaning), how we should live (purpose), and where we are going (destiny). But yet again, on this Christmas, we are so thankful that Jesus Christ is the one who was, who is, and who is to come. Jesus has the authority over life and death, in heaven and on earth, and also from the beginning to the end. He is the Alpha and the Omega. In him, we may find the origin, meaning, purpose, and destiny of our life. Don’t ask your ancestors about your origin; nor your teachers about your meaning; nor your friends about your purpose; nor a psychic about your destiny! We may never fully grasp them all, but we should believe that having an intimate relationship with Jesus, the Alpha and the Omega, is enough because He is the author and the perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).


There are actually names and titles of Jesus Christ in the Bible not mentioned here (such as the Son of God, the Son of Man, the Lion of Judah, the Living Stone, the Resurrection and the Life, and many more). The author therefore would suggest the other article that may supplement this writing. Nevertheless, the author hopes that, by the grace of God, through this writing, we all may grow deeper in our understanding and love with Jesus Christ and continually experience his joy, peace, and love throughout the years. Merry Christmas!

Vancouver, December 25, 2017

The Attributes of Jesus (R)

The Attributes of Jesus. (Photo of Jesus is adapted from here and the background photo is adapted from here; designed by the author)

The Power of Problem

A wise man says “The way we see problem is a problem.”¬†As we see our world today, people struggle everywhere ‚Äď no one is spared from problem. We all face, at least, a problem every day. Different people have different problems (with the different kind and intensity), be it hardships, diseases, the lost of loved ones, and so on. The question is probably not “What problem do you have today?” but rather “How do you deal with your problem today?” It is apparent that the way we response to problem is also a problem!

Knowing that we have problem each day, how to deal with it? Leaving the problem unresolved often lead us to feelings of guilt, inferiority, and frustration. On the other hand, we might fear the problem would “kill us softly” if we insisted on resolving it our own ways. Problem often has a negative image and it is normal that people would long for a problem-free life. However, is there really in the world such a life without problem? If we know that problem¬†is inevitable, don’t we feel challenged to overcome (or take advantage of) it? Are we often discouraged or encouraged by a problem?

In fact, some problems persist and at times the best we can do is just to accept it and keep moving forward. As long as we don’t lose hope, we may see some opportunities that disguised as problems. Now the question is “Can we benefit from problem?”¬†Here are some interesting facts that you may not always realize about the good sides of problem, which I would refer to herein as The Power of Problem:

1. Problem is like an exercise that gets the best out of you

Just like your body muscles are strengthen through exercises, your “heart and mind muscles” are also developed through problems. Students are required to pass the tests, which comprise a series of problems, in order to advance to the next level. Moreover, it is interesting that humans tend to grow, not in the midst of pleasures and comforts, but rather of pains and problems. Whenever you are facing problem, don’t lose heart and remember that your character is more important than your comfort.

In military, a man is called powerful after he had conquered enemies, mainly the most difficult ones. It is only until we resolve a difficult problem that we experience a real progress. We know the more problems we fix, the more progress we make. When was the last time you felt a deep satisfaction and fulfillment after solving a problem? It is probable that problems exist (and persist) that we may become an expert in problem-solving and be victorious over our “enemies” every day.

2. Problem is the beginning of purpose

Do you agree that because problem exists, human can have a purpose? Just simply put it this way, for instance:

  • Because of health problem, doctors and hospitals exist (with the purpose of healing).¬†There is no need for doctors and hospitals if everyone is healthy (has no health problem)
  • Because of the lack of knowledge, teachers and schools exist (with the purpose of educating).¬†There is no need for teachers and schools if everyone is smart (has no lack of knowledge)
  • Because of the limited access to information, internet exists (with the purpose of providing the accessible information). There is no need for internet if everyone can have a limited access to information, and so on…

Problems happened that we may have a purpose: to help each other. Do you agree that all the technologies (the man-made things) exist because of a wide variety of problems? Believe it or not, even your job now does exist because of problem! (and you are there also for fixing one)

3. Problem is a reminder that life is not yours (and the earth is not your home too)

One of the characteristics of life on earth is temporal or perishable. When you feel good or bad, you know the feelings won’t last. How many times do we get tired of all the highs and lows, ups and downs, lost and found? Life is dynamic and that’s why it is important to enjoy every season and make the most of every moment. Problems remind us that life is not ours. What we call “possessions” or “treasures” do not actually belong to us. It is good to remember not to be possessive and act as if we are to control everything.

In my life, I have witnessed a person who had struggles with relationship, health, and financial problems all at once. He was divorced, suffering from a lung cancer, and had no house under his name before his passing over ten years ago. What can be concluded from his miserable life? To me, there are at least two important lessons that, first, this world is not our home and, second, a far better and greater place must have been awaiting us on the other side. The constant existence of problems prove that the world we live in now has been permanently damaged and therefore requires a complete restoration, which can only be done by the Perfect One.

4. Problem reveals the human’s greatest need for a Savior

There are times when the problems were so intense that we felt helpless. Deep down in our hearts, we acknowledged that no human powers were able to save us. Imagine you were trying to run for help from a tsunami. This kind of situation “forced” us to seek out a “divine intervention” (as the ultimate resort) which is able to deliver us. We, at last, are willing to humble ourselves and confess our weaknesses and limitations. It is often at this point that most people finally recognize their needs for salvation and thus decide to believe in a supernatural being, whom they may acknowledge as God, the Almighty, Savior, etc.

Everyone needs mercy and love. Knowing that life is fragile, we can never live by our own strength, we need each other, but ultimately we need a Savior. The power of the Almighty greatly surpasses the power of any problems you have. In my life, I have testified that the most relieving and rewarding ways to live is by putting our trust and hopes in the One who is always in control and takes care of everything (Romans 8:28). You’ve probably heard someone says, “When God allows you to face a big problem, He trusts you.” God is faithful and will not allow any problems to overwhelm you beyond your capacity or ability to endure (1 Corinthians 10:13). Our ultimate strength comes from the Omnipotent, who is able to turn our problems into blessings (Philippians 4:13). What a great privilege to walk this life in a personal and intimate relationship with the Savior, who has overcome the most fearing problem on earth, i.e. death, so that we may have joy and peace until the end of time (John 16:33, Romans 8:37-39)

First written on November 30, 2017 and finalized by December 09, 2017 in Vancouver




Nabeel Qureshi: A Hero of Faith in the Present Age

In summer 2014, I was in Seoul working in a laboratory while doing my final project (thesis). My interest in apologetics, in addition to research interest in clean energy, has grown ever since, leading me to do another “research” about Christianity and Islam. During those times, I often spent times watching series of testimonies on YouTube. One of the most fascinating figures I found was Nabeel Qureshi, a former Muslim Christian apologist, who has now become the world’s most prominent figure with respect to the Christian versus Islamic worldview. Believe it or not? (Try to use the words “a former Muslim Christian apologist” in Google and you will be directed to Nabeel’s profile in Wikipedia on the first page)

Since he was diagnosed with stomach cancer on August 2016, I regularly watched his vlog on YouTube, wondering about the progress of his health. Hundreds, or perhaps thousands of people all over the world have been actively praying for him and his family since then (especially for his healing). However, the Lord seemingly has another plan. September 16, 2017 was the end of his life on earth yet the beginning of his life in the eternal and glorious home with the Lord Jesus, the true love of his soul.

I don’t know Nabeel personally, but his ministry has been a tremendous impact for me. I have read two of his books,¬†Seeking Allah Finding Jesus¬†and¬†Answering Jihad,¬†which, I believe, would be valuable resources for any truth seeker. As we live in the age of internet and information technology, we all know that finding the true and accurate information is easier now than it has ever been.¬†For those of you who are interested in seeking the truth about God from the perspective of Christian in comparison to Islam, I would suggest you another great resources, which have been carefully worked by Nabeel’s best friend, David Wood.

Here, I would like to share with you, at least, but not limited to, three spiritual blessings I received from Nabeel’s life and ministry, together with the references from the Scripture.

1. Death is not the end of human existence

Some people might have been wondering about the reason of Nabeel’s death. There would certainly be a lot of speculation on this matter. To me, the most unsurprising one would be due to his conversion from his former faith, as if his death was a God’s punishment. (It is quite understandable that people tend to find the “cause-effect” relationship, trying to rationalize everything that matters. But, I believe that we can’t, and don’t have to, explain and have the answer for everything). To this type of reasoning, I would ask, “What if God actually loved Nabeel so much that He was willing to bring him back to Him forever in the heavenly home?”.

As long as our concern is merely about earthly life and the worldly pleasures, we might think that Nabeel’s short life was quite unfortunate. (Had he lived longer, he could taste more delicious food, visit more beautiful places, and do more enjoyable activities). However, I believe death is not the end of our existence and the ultimate joy is not meant for our temporary-and-fragile life here. If they were so, how pitiful are the morally good people who died at the early ages, innocent children or kids who were killed in a war or accident or natural disasters, people who were dead by injustice and crimes, etc. Should they all have died in vain and lived meaninglessly? How can we explain all these things?

What if death is just the beginning of our eternal life? What if the separation from our mortal body leads to the unification of our soul and spirit with the brand-new immortal body? What if the beauty of life and all the wonderful-yet-perishable things here on earth is just nothing compared to the eternally wonderful things the Lord has prepared for us on the other side? What if death means “rest in peace” while life means “restless in pain”? What if death is not a curse, but a blessing? What if death is good, not evil? If death is evil, why would a good Creator allow it to be the inevitable part in the life of all creatures? And if death is good, like Paul says in Philippians 1:21, why would you still have a fear of death? Indeed, death can be good or bad, depending on where (heaven or hell) and with whom (the loved ones or the enemies) you will spend the eternity. I believe, just as Nabeel does, the gift of everlasting life has been given to those who believe in, and therefore have been saved by, Jesus Christ, our Risen Lord. Because of his faith in Jesus, Nabeel fears neither death nor evil.

So, could it be the time to change our mindset and how we perceive the matters of life and death? Could it be the right moment to focus on what matters most, i.e. the unseen things with eternal values (such as faith, hope, and love) beyond the seen things (such as the worldly riches, fame, and fleshly pleasures) which are momentary?

And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this down: Blessed are those who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, they are blessed indeed, for they will rest from their hard work; for their good deeds follow them!” (Revelation 14:13, NLT)

2. The sovereignty of God over all things

There are so many things we don’t know and many stories we can’t understand in life. Have you ever seen the wicked people outlived the good people? Have you been familiar with the corrupted leaders who are getting richer while the innocent people are living in poverty? Life often seems so frustrating and unfair that we might consider escaping the reality (read: suicide) as the better solution. Is there really a true measure of success while we live in this broken world? We are all clueless, without definite answers.

Had Nabeel lived longer, imagine how many memorable moments he could make with his wife (Michelle) and daughter (Ayah), how many more inspiring books he could write, and how much greater impact he could have. Again, God’s will is not like ours. Our spirit, soul, and body belong to Him, He gives and could take away anytime He wants. Now we can see why we should always leave a room for the God’s mystery in our theology. It is God’s privilege, in all His majesty and wonders, to conceal a matter (Proverbs 25:2).

At the end of the day, we can only trust that His plans are far better than ours and He is still good no matter what. By this way, our faith in Him will get stronger and we will always have hope in life. The just shall live by faith and surrendering our life to God is the most relieving feeling and the most rewarding moment we could ever experience. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Sovereign Lord;  abide in Him all times, and find our total confidence in Christ alone.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.¬†For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9, NLT)

3. Faithfulness of God’s servant, even to the point of death

Regardless of what our job title is, we all have one specific role in life: to serve. I believe that we are all servants towards others. I’ve shared about this in my previous post¬†last year. Whether you are a custodian, a teacher, or even a president, you have the same responsibilities of doing a good service for others.

Now, have you seen any person willing to die for what he/she believes? I am asking to myself, “Are you willing to die for your Chemical Engineering knowledge?” and probably you could also ask yourselves, “Am I willing to die for what I am doing and I believe now?” Some people were born with such incredible gifts or talents to become, for example, the world-class singers, the world-renowned musicians,¬†the world’s greatest football players, etc. You may be wondering if they are also willing to die for their passions. Have you found the truth (or the love of your life) that is worth dying for?

Here we can see the distinguished life of Nabeel. Just like Paul, he has considered everything else is worthless when compared with the surpassing worth of knowing Christ (Philippians 3:8). Nabeel has been willing to die for knowing Christ and proclaiming His truth despite the struggles with his dearly beloved parents, in addition to the challenges from people who had mocked him blatantly.¬†He knew that life on earth is temporal and things are perishable. He is not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and what He has done for him. Heaven is a far better place where he can be forever with the Father in the everlasting peace, love, and joy. I wonder if the Lord has said to Nabeel, “Well done, good and faithful servant! Enter into the joy of your Master!”

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants. (Psalm 116:15, NIV)

In the following video you can see Nabeel’s statement of faith and hope in eternal life. Hope you will be tremendously blessed!

First draft written by September 18, 2017 and finalized by October 6, 2017 in Vancouver



Prinsip Hidup Basuki dari Kitab Suci

Tiga tahun terakhir namanya begitu ramai diperbincangkan. Hampir setiap hari sepak terjangnya di dunia politik dan pemerintahan menghiasi media massa, baik di dalam maupun luar negeri. Sosoknya begitu kontroversial: banyak kawan, begitu juga lawan; yang mana merupakan ciri khas orang yang benar-benar sukses dan berpengaruh. Setelah begitu banyak yang dilakukannya untuk Jakarta, kiprahnya harus terhenti sementara waktu akibat vonis kontroversial terkait penodaan agama.

Hari ini, tepat di hari ulang tahunnya yang ke-51, ribuan bahkan jutaan orang merindukan kehadirannya, baik di layar kaca, di sosial media, maupun di Balai Kota. Melalui tulisan ini, penulis ingin mengenang kembali kisah perjuangannya yang begitu menginspirasi. Langsung saja tanpa basa-basi, inilah 7 prinsip hidup Basuki Tjahaja Purnama yang didasari oleh Kitab Suci:

Prinsip 1: Mati adalah keuntungan

Beberapa kali kita mendengar Basuki mengatakan dengan sangat tegas, “Nyawa pun saya berikan untuk Jakarta!”¬†Demi terwujudnya ibukota yang bersih dari korupsi, beliau rela memberikan hidupnya; sepenuh waktu, tenaga, dan pikirannya didedikasikan untuk transformasi Jakarta, yang bisa dibilang merupakan kunci untuk transformasi Indonesia. Prinsip ini memang bisa dibilang gila dan tidak biasa, mengingat biasanya orang (baca: pejabat) justru takut mati dan ingin selama mungkin menikmati kekuasaannya. Namun, Basuki memang beda. Memang beliau bukanlah superman atau manusia setengah dewa, tapi di dalam dirinya terkandung “DNA” atau karakteristik juru selamat, yaitu rela berkorban demi menyelamatkan orang lain, terutama kaum yang lemah. Yang dimaksud “mati” di sini tentu tidak hanya mati secara fisik, tapi juga mati bagi kepentingan diri sendiri. Tidak ada ambisi pribadi untuk memperkaya diri sendiri, tetapi yang terutama adalah pengabdian bagi bangsa dan negara; serta yang lebih utama, yaitu hidup untuk Tuhan.

Karena bagiku hidup adalah Kristus  dan mati adalah keuntungan. (Filipi 1:21)

Prinsip 2: Tuhan yang berdaulat, Tuhan yang memberi, Tuhan yang mengambil

Masih teringat jelas pernyataan Basuki di hadapan media setelah pengumuman hasil Pilkada putaran kedua yang lalu, “Percayalah, kekuasaan itu Tuhan yang kasih dan ambil!” Tentu tidak mudah mengeluarkan pernyataan seperti ini, dengan begitu tenang dan percaya diri, dalam suasana kekalahan yang tentu mengecewakan banyak pihak yang telah mati-matian mendukungnya. Namun, sikap yang ditunjukkan Basuki menunjukkan kematangan akhlaknya. Beliau menerima kekalahan dengan lapang dada dan jiwa besar, padahal ada sinyal yang cukup kuat bahwa kekalahannya sebagian besar diakibatkan oleh isu-isu SARA dan primordialisme, yang mana tidaklah fair dan¬†objektif. Ibarat dalam kompetisi menyanyi, pemenang ditentukan bukan karena kualitas suara dan penampilannya yang bagus, tapi karena etnis dan agamanya sama dengan dewan juri dan penontonnya. Tentu menyakitkan, bukan? Namun, ada hikmah di balik semua yang telah terjadi. Setidaknya publik kini bisa melihat dan meneladani kebesaran hati Basuki, dan sejarah mencatat, tanpa bisa dihapuskan kembali, bahwa ada seorang negarawan yang tetap beriman pada Tuhan ketika dihadapkan pada kenyataan yang pahit sekalipun.

Dengan telanjang aku keluar dari kandungan ibuku, dengan telanjang juga aku akan kembali  ke dalamnya. TUHAN yang memberi, TUHAN yang mengambil, terpujilah nama TUHAN! (Ayub 1:21)

Prinsip 3: Orang-orang miskin selalu ada di antara kita

Motivasi utama Basuki masuk dunia politik adalah untuk membantu orang miskin, yang mana hanya bisa dilakukan secara luas dan maksimal jika seseorang memegang kekuasaan (menjadi pejabat). Salah satu kebijakan Pemprov DKI dalam mengadministrasi keadilan sosial adalah dengan menyediakan rumah susun sederhana sewa (rusunawa), bagi warga yang direlokasi karena penggusuran. Dasar dari kebijakan ini disampaikan oleh Basuki, “Orang miskin pasti akan selalu ada di Jakarta. Sampai kita mati, sampai kiamat pun pasti ada.”¬†Jika demikian, apakah berarti bahwa kita tidak perlu memerangi kemiskinan? Tentu tidak. Ada kemiskinan yang disebabkan oleh kemalasan, namun ada juga yang disebabkan oleh kondisi politik, yaitu karena ketidakadilan, lemahnya penegakan hukum serta korupsi para penguasa. Inilah kemiskinan yang harus kita perangi bersama, yang mana peperangannya kini tidak lagi dipimpin oleh Basuki.

Karena orang-orang miskin selalu ada pada kamu,  tetapi Aku (Yesus) tidak akan selalu ada pada kamu. (Yohanes 12:8)

Prinsip 4: Pemimpin yang melayani 

Dalam memimpin Jakarta, Basuki menempatkan dirinya sebagai pelayan masyarakat. “Kami adalah pelayan warga DKI. Rakyat adalah bos kami,” demikian pernyataan beliau bersama wakilnya, Djarot Saiful Hidayat, dalam salah satu debat cagub DKI beberapa waktu yang lalu. Lalu siapakah rakyat yang dimaksud? Faktanya, tidak semua rakyat menyukai beliau, bahkan hasil akhir Pilkada menunjukkan bahwa ternyata mayoritas bukanlah pemilih Basuki-Djarot. Penulis mencoba menafsirkan di sini, bahwa “rakyat” yang dimaksud adalah orang-orang yang membutuhkan, kaum yang tertindas dan terpinggirkan, yang selama ini menanti-nantikan pemimpin yang bisa membawa keadilan dan kemakmuran bagi warganya. Dalam tangis dan jeritan rakyat kecil inilah kita bisa menemukan “suara hati” Sang Pencipta. Prinsip pemimpin pelayan (servant leader) ini sejalan dengan teladan yang telah diajarkan oleh Yesus, yang tertulis dalam ayat berikut:

Tidaklah demikian di antara kamu. Barangsiapa ingin menjadi besar di antara kamu, hendaklah ia menjadi pelayanmu, dan barangsiapa ingin menjadi terkemuka di antara kamu, hendaklah ia menjadi hambamu; sama seperti Anak Manusia datang bukan untuk dilayani, melainkan untuk melayani dan untuk memberikan nyawa-Nya menjadi tebusan bagi banyak orang. (Matius 20:26-28)

Prinsip 5: Kekuasaan sebagai ujian karakter

Ketakutan terbesar Basuki adalah ketika sebagai pejabat beliau tidak bisa amanah (dipercaya oleh rakyatnya). Dalam hidup, beliau berprinsip bahwa nama baik lebih berharga daripada harta kekayaan atau kekuasaan, sesuai dengan ayat berikut:

Nama baik lebih berharga dari pada kekayaan besar, dikasihi orang lebih baik dari pada perak dan emas. (Amsal 22:1)

Selain itu, Basuki juga berpedoman pada teori Abraham Lincoln, Presiden Amerika ke-16, yang menyatakan bahwa “untuk menguji karakter seseorang, berikan ia kekuasaan.”¬†Hal ini mengacu pada kebiasaan orang-orang yang masuk ke dunia politik, menjadi pejabat, dan kemudian tidak dipercaya lagi karena mereka terjebak dengan politik uang dan bagi-bagi sembako untuk meraih kekuasaan. Artinya? Menjadi pejabat bukanlah hal yang mudah. Untuk menjadi penguasa, seseorang harus tahan uji; ia harus kuat mental dan memiliki karakter yang jujur, berintegritas, serta bertanggung jawab. Ia harus siap menderita dan bekerja keras sepenuh hati, jiwa, raga.

Setiap orang yang kepadanya banyak diberi, dari padanya akan banyak dituntut, dan kepada siapa yang banyak dipercayakan, dari padanya akan lebih banyak lagi dituntut. (Lukas 12:48)

Kekuasaan adalah kepercayaan dari Tuhan, yang diwakilkan oleh rakyat. Dengan demikian, pemerintah memiliki tanggung jawab lahir batin pada rakyat di kehidupan sekarang dan pada Tuhan di kehidupan yang akan datang. Karena itulah, pejabat disumpah setia mengabdi pada kepentingan bangsa dan negara serta pada Pemberi kekuasaan sebelum mulai menjalankan tugasnya.

Barangsiapa setia dalam perkara-perkara kecil, ia setia juga dalam perkara-perkara besar. Dan barangsiapa tidak benar dalam perkara-perkara kecil, ia tidak benar juga dalam perkara-perkara besar. (Lukas 16:10)

Prinsip 6: Mengabdi pada Tuhan, bukan uang

Menurut Basuki, “Akar dari permasalahan bangsa ini adalah korupsi, karena orang terlalu cinta uang.”¬†Hal ini sejalan dengan ayat berikut ini:

Karena akar segala kejahatan ialah cinta uang. Sebab oleh memburu uanglah beberapa orang telah menyimpang dari iman dan menyiksa dirinya dengan berbagai-bagai duka. (1 Timotius 6:10)

Jika motivasi kita menjadi pejabat adalah karena ingin kaya, lebih baik jangan jadi pejabat! Kalau ingin kaya, jadi pengusaha atau pedagang saja, yang jelas-jelas orientasinya adalah meraup keuntungan sebesar-besarnya. Lagipula, kalau dipikir-pikir, untuk apa sebenarnya jadi orang kaya? Apakah agar kita bisa lebih tenang karena segala kebutuhan kita pasti akan terpenuhi? Apakah agar kita tidak perlu lagi berharap-harap cemas pada Tuhan karena kita sudah memiliki segalanya? Bukankah fakta menunjukkan hal yang sebaliknya: orang-orang yang tidak tenang, ketakutan, tidak bisa tidur, terlibat pertikaian, dsb. justru kebanyakan adalah mereka yang memiliki harta materi berlimpah? Ada baiknya kita belajar dari apa yang disampaikan Rasul Paulus berikut ini:

Peringatkanlah kepada orang-orang kaya di dunia ini agar mereka jangan tinggi hati dan jangan berharap pada sesuatu yang tak tentu seperti kekayaan, melainkan pada Allah yang dalam kekayaan-Nya memberikan kepada kita segala sesuatu untuk dinikmati. (1 Timotius 6:17)

Jadi bagaimana? Dalam hidup ini kita memerlukan “pegangan” atau “sandaran”, setidaknya untuk memberikan ketentraman batin, walau untuk sementara waktu. Apakah jerih lelah kita bekerja selama ini hanya karena dimotivasi oleh uang? Dengan menumpuk kekayaan yang besar, apakah kita bisa lantas memastikan keamanan, kedamaian, dan kebahagiaan dalam rumah tangga kita? Siapakah sumber kehidupan kita yang sesungguhnya? Siapa yang terus kita kejar dalam hidup ini? Uang atau Tuhan?

Tak seorangpun dapat mengabdi kepada dua tuan. Karena jika demikian, ia akan membenci yang seorang dan mengasihi yang lain, atau ia akan setia kepada yang seorang dan tidak mengindahkan yang lain. Kamu tidak dapat mengabdi kepada Allah dan kepada Mamon. (Matius 6:24)

Prinsip 7: Jangan kuatir dalam menjalani hidup

Suatu ketika, ada yang bertanya pada Basuki apakah beliau tidak kuatir ada yang menembaknya mati. Jawab beliau, “Mati kan di tangan Tuhan? Kalau kamu memang harusnya mati muda mau bilang apa? Memang kamu takut bisa membuat tidak jadi mati? Kalau kekuatiran bisa membuat saya jadi panjang umur, saya mau kuatir. Tapi kan enggak? Jadi buat apa takut?” Rupanya inilah jawaban mengapa Basuki tidak takut dibunuh. Beliau percaya hidup-mati ada di tangan Tuhan, yang telah berkata dengan jelas pada murid-muridNya, sesuai yang tertulis di ayat berikut:

Karena itu Aku berkata kepadamu: Janganlah kuatir akan hidupmu, akan apa yang hendak kamu makan atau minum, dan janganlah kuatir pula akan tubuhmu, akan apa yang hendak kamu pakai. Bukankah hidup itu lebih penting dari pada makanan dan tubuh itu lebih penting dari pada pakaian? Pandanglah burung-burung di langit, yang tidak menabur dan tidak menuai dan tidak mengumpulkan bekal dalam lumbung, namun diberi makan oleh Bapamu yang di sorga. Bukankah kamu jauh melebihi burung-burung itu? Siapakah di antara kamu yang karena kekuatirannya dapat menambahkan sehasta saja pada jalan hidupnya? Dan mengapa kamu kuatir akan pakaian? Perhatikanlah bunga bakung di ladang, yang tumbuh tanpa bekerja dan tanpa memintal, namun Aku berkata kepadamu: Salomo dalam segala kemegahannyapun tidak berpakaian seindah salah satu dari bunga itu. Jadi jika demikian Allah mendandani rumput di ladang, yang hari ini ada dan besok dibuang ke dalam api, tidakkah Ia akan terlebih lagi mendandani kamu, hai orang yang kurang percaya? Sebab itu janganlah kamu kuatir dan berkata: Apakah yang akan kami makan? Apakah yang akan kami minum? Apakah yang akan kami pakai? Semua itu dicari bangsa-bangsa yang tidak mengenal Allah. Akan tetapi Bapamu yang di sorga tahu, bahwa kamu memerlukan semuanya itu. Tetapi carilah dahulu Kerajaan Allah dan kebenarannya, maka semuanya itu akan ditambahkan kepadamu. Sebab itu janganlah kamu kuatir akan hari besok, karena hari besok mempunyai kesusahannya sendiri. Kesusahan sehari cukuplah untuk sehari. (Matius 6:25-34)

Demikianlah, sedikitnya 7 prinsip hidup Basuki dari Kitab Suci. Semoga menginspirasi.

Selamat ulang tahun, Bapak Basuki Tjahaja Purnama. Terima kasih atas karya pengabdianmu, kebesaran jiwamu, dan ketulusan hatimu dalam perjuanganmu mengadministrasi keadilan sosial. Walaupun daerah kerjamu sebatas DKI, namun dampak kerjamu seluas Indonesia, bahkan inspirasimu menjangkau dunia!

Kiranya Tuhan selalu melimpahkan berkat rohani dan jasmani bagi Pak Basuki dan keluarga. Tetap BTP (bersih, transparan, profesional) dan MERDEKA!

Vancouver, Juni 2017

Refleksi Pemerintahan dan Politik di Indonesia

Pergelaran Pemilihan Kepala Daerah (Pilkada) Daerah Khusus Ibukota (DKI) Jakarta telah usai pada 19 April yang lalu. Walaupun saat ini penulis sedang berada jauh dari tanah air, namun banyak cerita menarik dan penuh intrik seputar dunia pemerintahan dan politik di tanah air yang terlalu sayang untuk dilewatkan. Banyak hikmah dan pelajaran hidup yang bisa diambil, baik dari kisah (stories) maupun sosok (figures) yang inspiratif. Momen hari lahirnya Pancasila ini mengingatkan kita bahwa keberagaman adalah takdir Indonesia; Bhinneka Tunggal Ika dan Negara Kesatuan Republik Indonesia (NKRI) adalah rahmat Tuhan Yang Maha Esa. Tulisan ini merupakan perspektif pribadi penulis tentang dunia pemerintahan dan politik di Indonesia saat ini dan tidak dimaksudkan untuk mewakili ideologi institusi atau lembaga manapun.

Sebelum bergerak lebih jauh, penulis ingin membedakan antara pemerintahan dan politik. Pemerintahan adalah sarana Tuhan untuk mewujudkan keadilan dan kesejahteraan bagi seluruh rakyatnya. Oleh karenanya, pemerintah harus bersih, jujur, adil, tegas, dan profesional dalam melayani rakyatnya. Sedangkan politik adalah tentang perebutan kekuasaan, yaitu bagaimana mencapai posisi tertinggi agar dapat mengendalikan rakyat, menguasai sumber daya alam, dan fokusnya adalah melayani kepentingan pribadi atau golongan. Tidak heran banyak orang menyebut politik itu kotor. Dan politik ini tidak hanya ada dalam pemerintahan, tapi juga bisa masuk ke dalam bidang atau institusi lainnya, seperti pendidikan, olahraga, agama, dll. bahkan hingga ke institusi terkecil dalam masyarakat, yaitu keluarga. Bukankah sering terjadi perebutan kekuasaan atau harta warisan dalam keluarga? Itulah politik. Jadi menurut penulis, pemerintahan dan politik adalah dua hal yang perlu dibedakan, demikian juga pemerintah dan politisi.

Sedikitnya, ada tiga hikmah yang bisa kita pelajari bersama dari berbagai peristiwa yang terjadi, baik sebelum, selama, maupun sesudah pergelaran Pilkada DKI 2017, dari kacamata penulis:

Belajar dari kulit yang terluka

Orang yang pernah mengalami luka di kulit (karena tergores, misalnya) pasti tahu betapa repot mengobatinya. Ketika remaja, saya suka bermain sepak bola di jalan depan rumah bersama teman, dengan kaki telanjang. Suatu kali saya melakukan kecerobohan yang membuat telapak dan kuku jempol kaki saya terluka cukup parah. Setelah beberapa hari, luka di telapak kaki saya bernanah sehingga menyebabkan saya harus berjuang keras untuk bisa berjalan kaki dengan normal; memakai sepatu pun tidak nyaman. Di saat itu, saya cukup sering mengkonsumsi makanan atau minuman manis, sehingga perlu waktu yang cukup lama untuk luka (borok) tersebut mengering dan sembuh. Ketika ditetesi obat, rasa perihnya sungguh luar biasa, membuat saya berteriak kesakitan. Pernah punya pengalaman yang sama?

Bangsa Indonesia saat ini sedang terluka; ada luka lama, ada luka baru. Permasalahan SARA (suku, ras, dan agama) dan primordialisme (sikap memegang teguh keyakinan yang dibawa sejak lahir) adalah luka lama yang sudah dibiarkan bertahun-tahun sehingga sepertinya¬†sekarang ini sudah menjadi borok yang baunya amat menjijikkan. Luka-luka lainnya adalah permasalahan korupsi dan kemunafikan yang menjerat para penguasa¬†di negeri ini. Menurut saya, sebagian besar luka ini dipicu oleh kecerobohan manusia, yang terus ‘memelihara’ sikap iri hati, dengki, pikiran negatif, nafsu harta duniawi, kekuatiran, dan kesombongan. Disadari atau tidak, orang yang terluka biasanya akan cenderung melukai orang lain (hurting people hurt people) karena mereka tidak ingin sendirian. Akibatnya, siklus jahat ini terus berulang dari generasi ke generasi. Pertanyaannya,¬†kapan kita mau sembuh?

Sesungguhnya Tuhan telah mengirimkan obat-nya, yaitu pemimpin-pemimpin yang bersih hati nurani-nya dan menginginkan kemajuan nyata bagi bangsa ini. Mereka tegas melawan borok korupsi dan kemunafikan yang sudah bertahun-tahun tak kunjung¬†sembuh. Namun apa hasilnya? Sebagian besar orang tak terima dan berteriak kesakitan ketika obat tersebut diteteskan pada luka mereka.¬†Rasa ‘nyaman’ mereka terganggu, seolah-olah mereka tak ingin sembuh dan bahkan ingin menutupi atau menyembunyikan borok-borok tersebut. Mereka hanya ingin terus makan dan minum yang manis-manis, yaitu kenikmatan harta duniawi, yang pada akhirnya justru akan mengakibatkan diabetes dan impotensi dalam diri mereka. Mereka tak sadar dan tak mau tahu bahwa pemimpin-pemimpin yang bersih adalah obat yang menyembuhkan, sekalipun awalnya menyakitkan bagi mereka. Sungguh ironis jika akhirnya¬†obat-obat penyembuh luka itu malahan disingkirkan¬†dan¬†dicampakkan. Pertanyaannya sekarang, benarkah kita ingin sembuh? Apakah kalian rela jika kita menjadi bangsa yang berpenyakitan dan tak punya potensi, daya saing di hadapan¬†bangsa-bangsa lain?

Roh agamawi yang membunuh nurani

Di antara semua borok, menurut saya ada satu borok yang patut diwaspadai oleh bangsa ini, yaitu roh agamawi. Ia seperti sel kanker yang sedang menggerogoti sel-sel sehat yang lain, menularkan virus penyakit yang sangat berbahaya dan mematikan. Sama seperti virus yang tak kasat mata, roh agamawi ini pun tak kelihatan, namun bekerja sangat aktif, terutama dalam alam pikiran manusia. Pikiran-pikiran yang menganggur atau bermalas-malasan (idle) sering menjadi korbannya. Jika virus ini diberi tempat dalam waktu yang lama, maka ia tidak hanya menyerang pikiran, tapi juga akan mematikan hati nurani. Sel kanker ‘roh agamawi’ ini akan memakan habis ¬†sel-sel ‘rasional’ yang ada dalam hati dan pikiran manusia. Lalu apa yang saya maksudkan dengan roh agamawi ini? Di dalamnya adalah paham legalisme, yang dapat diartikan sebagai:¬†“suatu sikap pembenaran diri sendiri dengan menaati peraturan-peraturan (agama) buatan manusia”…

Ada yang bilang bahwa agama berasal dari Tuhan, diwahyukan dari langit. Jika demikian halnya, maka sedikitnya ada dua pertanyaan besar: (1) Apakah semua agama yang berbeda-beda diturunkan oleh Tuhan yang berbeda-beda? (2) Apakah Tuhan ‘sengaja’ menurunkan agama untuk memecah-belah manusia ciptaanNya? Bukankah sejarah telah membuktikan¬†bahwa agama justru membawa pemisahan dan, karenanya, bukanlah alat pemersatu? Bukankah Tuhan sendiri adalah Pencipta segala makhluk, yang artinya memiliki inklusivitas tak terbatas? Lagipula, bukankah orang-orang justu menjadi sombong dan munafik karena beragama? Karena itulah, saya sepenuhnya yakin bahwa agama adalah buatan manusia. Ia dilahirkan oleh pikiran (atau budi pekerti) manusia, dihasilkan dari¬†interpretasi (penafsiran) manusia, yaitu tentang aturan-aturan hidup di dunia, yang mengatur hubungan antara manusia dengan Pencipta, manusia dengan sesama, dan manusia dengan alam sekitarnya. Agama adalah cara manusia menafsirkan dan memahami perintah Tuhan dan laranganNya. Memang, semua perintah dan larangan Tuhan tujuannya baik, namun ketika sudah sampai pada interpretasi manusia, maka penyimpangan-penyimpangan bisa (dan telah) terjadi, terutama jika sudah berkaitan dengan kepentingan pribadi atau kekuasaan. Maka orang-orang mulai menggunakan nama Tuhan demi meraih harta, tahta, dan cinta duniawi. Ini semua berawal dari… roh agamawi! Hal ini membuktikan bahwa semua agama telah rusak (corrupted) akibat dosa manusia (human error). Oleh karenanya, agama tidak akan pernah mampu menyelamatkan manusia. Keselamatan hanya berasal dari Tuhan Sang Juruselamat.

Selain mendorong pembenaran diri sendiri, roh agamawi juga bisa menyebabkan orang-orang menjadi sesuatu yang saya sebut sebagai “religious impotent”, yaitu orang-orang yang mengetahui kebenaran, tapi tidak melakukannya. Mereka senang memakai atribut-atribut agamawi, seperti misalnya kalung salib, sorban, jubah, kerudung, dsb. agar orang lain menyangka bahwa mereka ini adalah orang-orang yang religius, alim, berakhlak, bermoral, dan dekat dengan Tuhan.¬†Kaum religius ini (para ahli kitab suci dan pemuka agama) sering terjebak pada kebenaran yang mereka buat sendiri, akibatnya mereka sering merasa paling benar dan bersikap¬†judgmental¬†terhadap orang lain, terutama kaum yang lemah (minoritas). Mereka (mungkin) merasa bahwa posisi mereka lebih tinggi dibanding masyarakat¬†awam (yang tak tahu-menahu soal urusan agama dan lebih memikirkan perkara sehari-hari). Yang menyedihkan lagi, mereka menganggap bahwa segala jerih payah dan amal kebaikan mereka akan bisa mendatangkan keselamatan bagi mereka (di dunia dan akhirat), sehingga dengan begitu, mereka menolak anugerah Tuhan. Mereka (mungkin) meyakini bahwa jika mereka selamat, itu karena mereka baik; padahal yang seharusnya adalah karena Tuhan yang baik! Karena itu, mereka sering terjangkiti oleh rasa cemburu yang luar biasa, terutama ketika melihat orang-orang yang tak beragama meraih kesuksesan dan kenikmatan hidup di dunia. Mungkin mereka berpikir, “Bagaimana mungkin orang-orang kafir ini punya mobil dan rumah yang lebih indah dan keluarga yang lebih bahagia daripada yang aku miliki; padahal aku lebih rajin beramal, beribadah, dan berbakti pada Tuhan dibandingkan mereka!” Akhirnya… mereka mulai berkompromi, mereka mulai menggunakan jubah-jubah religius dan mimbar-mimbar peribadatan untuk mengumpulkan kekayaan duniawi, hati mereka mulai bergeser dari cinta Tuhan ke cinta uang, dan… mereka pun terjebak dalam kesalehan palsu! Tak heran, kaum religius semacam ini akhirnya sering dimanfaatkan sebagai ‘alat’ atau ‘kendaraan’ untuk mencapai ambisi politik oleh para penguasa yang zalim. Jadi, jangan heran ketika melihat orang-orang yang tak beragama, bahkan¬†atheist,¬†justru berkelakuan lebih baik dan lebih bermoral daripada orang-orang yang (mengaku) beragama.

Jadi sekarang, pilihannya hanya ada dua, yaitu: Tuhan atau uang. Jika kita sungguh-sungguh mencintai Tuhan, maka dalam hidup ini kita akan mempercayaiNya. Kita percaya bahwa pemeliharaanNya sempurna, sehingga kita tak akan kekurangan sesuatu apapun. Kita akan menjalani hidup dengan lebih tenang, damai, sukacita, penuh pengharapan, dan berserah penuh pada Sang Pemilik hidup. Kita tidak perlu hidup dalam kekuatiran, karena Tuhan pasti memenuhi segala kebutuhan kita. Sebaliknya, jika kita mencintai uang, maka dalam hidup ini kita tidak akan pernah tenang, sering kuatir dan gelisah, tak akan pernah terpuaskan, dan akan selalu cemburu, iri hati melihat kesuksesan orang lain. Jerat roh cinta uang ini akan menghancurkan hati nurani kita, membuat kita hidup mengandalkan kekuatan diri sendiri dan berusaha mencapai kesuksesan melalui jerih payah dan kerja keras yang tak ada habisnya. Jadi jelas, roh cinta uang punya hubungan kekerabatan yang sangat dekat dengan roh agamawi! Lalu, jika demikian, apakah kita tidak boleh beragama? Jawaban saya: jadilah orang yang rohani, bukan religius, karena being spiritual is not equal to being religious. Orang-orang yang rohani memikirkan perkara-perkara rohani, yaitu hal-hal yang tidak kelihatan, sedangkan orang-orang yang religius (cenderung) memikirkan perkara-perkara agamawi demi mencapai hal-hal yang kelihatan, yaitu perkara-perkara duniawi.

Pemimpin yang melayani dan dicintai rakyatnya

Nasib sebuah bangsa sangat tergantung pada sistem pemerintahannya. Mengapa negara seperti Korea Selatan dan Korea Utara, walaupun ada di tanah yang sama, memiliki nasib yang berbeda drastis? Alasan utama: karena perbedaan sistem pemerintahan. (Silakan googling untuk informasi lebih lanjut karena ini di luar lingkup pembahasan saya sekarang). Sederhananya begini: jika negara diibaratkan manusia, maka pemerintah adalah bagian otak (kepala) nya. Kalau otaknya rusak, seluruh sistem saraf dan kerja anggota tubuh yang lain akan terganggu. Sebaliknya, jika otak sehat, maka tubuh akan berfungsi optimal.

Agar¬†menjadi bangsa yang maju, adil, sejahtera, dan berpengaruh di dunia internasional, Indonesia harus sembuh dari “luka borok di kulit” serta “belenggu roh agamawi” yang sudah bertahun-tahun dibiarkan. Obat terbaik yang dapat membawa kesembuhan bagi dua penyakit ini¬†sebenarnya sudah ada sekarang, yaitu para pemimpin yang bersih, transparan, dan profesional. Mereka adalah pemimpin pelayan (servant leader), yang tulus mengabdikan hidup untuk melayani, bukan untuk dilayani atau¬†memanfaatkan jabatan untuk kesenangan pribadi. Mereka tidak takut bahaya, bahkan tidak takut mati dalam menjalankan tugas pengabdiannya, karena mereka siap berkorban jiwa raga. Bagi mereka, mengalami kematian di saat menjalankan amanah Tuhan adalah sebuah kehormatan. Dan benar, mereka adalah orang-orang yang sudah ‘mati’ bagi diri mereka sendiri; mereka sudah selesai dengan dirinya sendiri, tidak ada hasrat untuk mengejar ambisi pribadi, yaitu kekuasaan duniawi. Mereka percaya bahwa hidup mati ada di tangan Tuhan, yang berkuasa memberikannya dan berkuasa mengambilnya kembali; sama seperti halnya mereka percaya bahwa jabatan, promosi, atau kekuasaan adalah berasal dari Tuhan. Dengan konsep iman seperti ini, tidak heran bila mereka bisa menjalankan tugas pemerintahan dengan tanpa beban, penuh energi dan tak kenal lelah. Cita-cita mereka adalah menegakkan kebenaran¬†serta mewujudkan keadilan, kemakmuran, dan kesejahteraan sosial bagi seluruh rakyat. Pertanyaannya sekarang, kapan pemimpin-pemimpin semacam ini diberikan kesempatan? Tenang, harapan masih ada (bila kita terus berjuang dan percaya)…

Vancouver, 1 Juni 2017