Ready at such a time as this: Onward, Singapore!
Elder Jimmy Tan // August 19, 2022, 5:27 pm
As we watch and pray over Singapore for this and future generations, let us personally and corporately resolve not to veer from unchanging biblical truths, writes Elder Jimmy Tan. Photo by Rogan Yeoh on Unsplash.
In this season of National Day celebrations, it is hard not to be grateful to God for 57 years of peace, political stability, religious freedom, prosperity and progress in many aspects of Singapore life.
As a relatively young nation, we have indeed overcome many a setback, most recently the scourge of Covid-19.
Yet as the nation was celebrating on National Day, I spent much of the day with a heavy heart. Curiously, it was the first time I had felt that way on August 9.
I believe it is a time to wise up, shape up, stand up and finally, look up.
Watching the thrills and spills of the parade, I did feel very proud to be a Singaporean. Yet when I saw teacher Azuan Tan on TV shedding unabashed tears during that stirring rendition of our anthem, something stirred in my spirit too.
My emotions were for both Singapore as well as for the Bride of Christ here that He unreservedly gave His life for.
When we reach another critical crossroad, will we hold fast as a nation? Will disciples of Christ fix our gaze on Him or find ourselves staring, frozen like kangaroos at oncoming traffic, at the high waves around us?
As I took personal stock, I put together the following responses, many not new. You may even have been putting these into practice. But if I may share, I believe it is a time to wise up, shape up, stand up and finally, look up.
Wise up to the times and seasons
By now you would have heard about the debates, positions taken and the Government’s intention to come to a decision surrounding Section 377A of the Penal Code (“s377A”) and the need for safeguards to protect heterosexual marriage as our nation’s norm.
While many parts of the world have appeared to accept the shifts in sexual moral attitudes and expressions as the new normal, most in Singapore see these developments as an existential threat to the institution of heterosexual marriage, the definition of family, the innocence of children and the freedom of conscience.
Persevere to pray for our Government who has been appointed to lead even in unenviable circumstances.
As Christians, we must be fully convinced that the way for our nation to truly flourish is to live in accordance with God’s design for men and women, marriage and family (Genesis 1:26-28; 2:18-25). God affirms the equality and complementarity of the sexes. Yet we also believe that the “one man-one woman” marital bond offers unparalleled stability for the nurture of families through the generations.
Inevitably, the difficult decisions to be taken will not come without repercussions. As I have often been reminded by my church forebears, we must therefore persevere in our prayers for our Government who has been appointed to lead even in unenviable circumstances:
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4).
Let us intercede for our:
- Government to continue to govern wisely, developing sound policies that lead our nation toward what is righteous rather than expedient, for the good of the nation and the generations to come (Proverbs 13:34). As they serve, may they act justly, love mercy and walk humbly in the sight of God (Micah 6:8).
- Prime Minister and his Cabinet to experience God’s blessing, grace and peace (Numbers 6:24-26) as they persevere to lead Singapore to unite in the right course of action with courage and strength, withstanding the onslaughts of economic storms, international turmoil and permissive societal values.
What is our biblical posture?
As we watch and pray, how else might we posture ourselves biblically?
1. Maintain the unity of the Spirit to effectively stand in the gap for Singapore. Intercession for our beloved nation is His desire and our privilege, as is sharing the gospel in word and deed. Yet may we be mindful of the ploy of the evil one to sow division affecting the credibility of our witness for Him (Ephesians 4:3; Ezekiel 22:30; John 17:21).
2. Not despair but fully depend on our Sovereign and Almighty God knowing that our Lord Jesus Christ has decisively triumphed for us in what matters most – the cosmic spiritual battle over sin, death and the devil – by his death and resurrection.
Those who put their faith in Christ can look forward with hope to when Christ comes again to completely consummate His Kingdom purposes in the promised, sinless perfection of the new heavens and new earth (Isaiah 2:22; Jeremiah 32:17; Colossians 2:13-15; Acts 4:12; Isaiah 65:17; Revelation 21:1-5).
3. Be strong in the Lord, prevailing in spiritual warfare, knowing our struggle is not against “flesh and blood” but “principalities and forces of evil” that assault every institution bearing God’s imprint and purpose for His creation (Ephesians 6:10-12).
There is no biblical cause for believers to retaliate personally, for we know Him who judges justly (1 Peter 2:23). Our challenge is to “live such good lives” that our good deeds may be seen and lead to His glory (1 Peter 2:12).
We must personally and corporately therefore resolve not to veer from the unchanging biblical truths on sexual purity and allegiance to Christ. Then we will be that holy, Christ community that knows and speaks the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
4. Humbly repent of “everything that hinders”, “the sin that so easily entangles” (Hebrews 12:1), and especially of “any hint of sexual immorality, impurity or greed”, for such is idolatry (Ephesians 5:3-5).
The more pertinent and ongoing spiritual battle has always been that for our own hearts. Our old nature (“flesh”) will continue to contend to usurp our Spirit-nature (Galatians 5:17), while the opportunistic evil one prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).
Let us hold fast by following Christ unswervingly (Luke 9:23), sober that judgment begins in His household (1 Timothy 4:17). Thank God we are assured of Christlike character-fruit by keeping in step with His Holy Spirit and His faithful restoration even when we stumble (Galatians 5:22-26; 1 John 1:9).
5. Subject ourselves to the governing authorities, as unto the Lord, in biblical tension with our commitment to obey Him, fully assured that no authority is installed apart from God.
This brings us full circle to keep on praying for all in authority, in obedience to His commands (Romans 13:1; Titus 3:1; 1 Peter 2:13; 1 Timothy 2:2).
Shape up to His Word
As God’s people, let us now, more than ever:
Recommit to being His Spirit-empowered witnesses (Acts 1:8) and making disciples of Christ of all nations (Matthew 28:19) as we teach for obedience to everything commanded by Him. May we be discipled and not deceived, alert but never alarmed even in these end times (2 Timothy 3:1-17), remembering we have been sent into this world but are not to be of it (John 17:16,18).
May we also embrace the place and value of suffering for His Name by His enabling grace if and when the need arises (Romans 8:17; Philippians 3:10; 1 Peter 3:14, 4:14).
Live out the church’s Gospel mandate counter-culturally in word and deed through:
May we embrace the place and value of suffering for His Name by His enabling grace if and when the need arises.
(a) the quality of our life together, as believers loving one another (John 13:35) and
(b) the clarity of our message. We need to be clear on the gospel, and that the good news is for everyone (Romans 1:16).
No longer be apathetic or sympathetic to the LGBTQ+ agenda but seek to be equipped and affirmed in what God says about His purposes in creation design (Genesis 1:26-28; 2:18-25) and sexual immorality, including homosexual practices (Genesis 19; Leviticus 18, 20; Romans 1:18-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Timothy 1:9-10).
The Singapore Church has also been much blessed by helpful individuals and ministries with good resources, such as TrueLove.Is.
Stand up for all in need of Christ
As Christ’s ambassadors, let us:
Keep engaging society as preserving salt and revealing light. He commands us to “make the most of every opportunity because the days are evil” and to “seek the peace and prosperity of the city” recognising it is God who had appointed for each city its time and boundary (Matthew 5:13-14, Ephesians 5:16, Jeremiah 29:7, Acts 17:26).
Make the most of every opportunity to keep engaging society as preserving salt and revealing light.
For example, as citizens of Singapore we can rightfully yet respectfully make our views known in the public square. We must also serve our fellow citizens, regardless of their background, for all are made in His image.
- Unloving attitudes and words uttered in private or public towards those struggling with same-sex attraction, even though we disagree with their sin (1 Corinthians 13:1-6).
- Superior posturing towards certain categories of sexual sinners. We must not forget that none of us is exempt from sexual temptations and sins (1 Corinthians 10:13, Galatians 6:1-5). Learn to relate as Christ would, avoiding the dangers of stereotyping, as we come alongside same-sex “strugglers” who wish to obey God in living pure and holy lives without identifying themselves by a gay identity.
May we be willing to welcome all who are weary and burdened, regardless of whether the struggle is with homosexual sin. No one coming to Christ and His life-changing Gospel is denied the promise of true freedom and spiritual rest (Matthew 11:28).
Look up to our identity in Christ
Never before has gender identity become such a cherished and combative idol of our times.
In these post-modern times, many agendas for change and legitimacy in the name of inclusivity will be pushed.
The challenge is deeper than just resolving a law. It is of where we place our deepest significance.
Yet the challenge is deeper than just resolving a law.
It is also not just about a certain group of people. It is ultimately symptomatic of how we derive our identities, of where we place our deepest significance.
Church, is our identity derived from ourselves or conjured by us (for instance, in the things we can achieve or possess or the people we love)? Or is our core identity only from the One who made us to love us?
I sense these are hard truths for even some who identify as Christian, let alone those yet reached by His grace.
True believers should therefore, regardless of our own sin-struggle, repent and return to stand (again and again) on the secure foundation of being identified as His precious child (Romans 8:14-17) and, collectively, as His called-out, chosen people.
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9-10)
Review of Section 377A must take into account strong views on family and marriage: DPM Lawrence Wong
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