AT THE time of the American elections last year, there was a lot of talk about religion and politics.
People grumbled that the evangelicals in the United States helped President George W. Bush win.
“Keep religion and politics separate!” is almost like a mantra today, especially in Singapore.
The whole idea is that religion is a good thing to have but only if you keep it private. You must be able to compartmentalise your life and stow religion in a little box that doesn’t affect or infect others.
Is Christianity a private thing to hide? Is it a real bother to others?
One Methodist church in Singapore last year tried a bit of reverse psychology. The Discipleship and Nurture team designed a poster which looked like a To-Do list and it began, “Monday – Shout at Secretary.”
From Tuesday to Saturday, the list included other nasty, illegal and immoral activities.
On Sunday, the item was “Go to Church.” The sugges-tion at the bottom of the poster: “Don’t waste your Sundays.”
If you are bad the whole week, might as well keep up the nastiness on Sundays! Of course the point being cleverly driven home is that we have to be Christians every day of the week, not just when we are in church on Sunday.
We all know what being a Christian every day of the week means: being always loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, generous, faithful, gentle and exercising self-control. Exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit, in other words, and living upright and godly lives.
In his sermon on “The Catholic Spirit” preached at Newcastle in 1749, John Wesley asked, “While you have time, as you have opportunity, do you in fact ‘do good to all men,’ neighbours or strangers, friends or enemies, good or bad? Do you do them all the good you can; endeavour-ing to supply all their wants; assisting them both in body and soul, to the utter-most of your power?” We are clearly ex- pected to answer, “Yes.”
If we are like that every day, who wouldn’t want neighbours like us?
And Christians are not subversive traitors out to incite rebellion. We may be citizens of a heavenly kingdom, but our Bible tells us to respect the authority of every human institution, whether of emperors, governors or even slave-masters.
Our history, splotchy though it may be, has been one of service to society. In Singapore, we have started schools, hospitals, nursing homes, family service centres, counselling centres, mediation centres.
Our practice is to pray for our leaders and country. Even our Methodist Social Principles clearly support National Service.
The National Council of Churches of Singapore affirmed in its statement on the casino issue that Christians are “responsi-ble people who are interested in the well-being of our society” and that we will “continue to contribute to the building of a compassionate, just, prosperous, peaceful and flourishing Singapore”.
If we do that every day, which country wouldn’t want citizens like us?
So why set aside our Christianity when we step out of Church? It is precisely our Christ-likeness that makes us wonderful neighbours and model citizens. It is our strong sense of morality, our desire for upright living, our love for others that make Christians suited to be leaders in society.
Okay, we may fail, not everyone tries to be like Christ every day. But at the end of the day, our Christianity should impact others and society for the better. Let me remind you about the church we are in.
On the John Mark Ministries website, there is a sermon by Rev Rob Benson which includes a story of Dr Russell Blowers.
Dr Blowers was the Pastor of East 91 Street Christian Church and an active member of the Indianapolis Rotary Club.
Each week at club meetings a differ-ent member gave a brief summary of his job. This is what Dr Blowers said when his turn came:
“I’m with a global enterprise. We have branches all over the world, and repre-sentatives in nearly every parliament and boardroom on earth. We run hospitals, feeding stations, crisis pregnancy centres, publishing houses and nursing homes.
“We care for our clients from birth to death. We’re into life insurance and fire insur-ance. We perform heart transplants. Our original Or-ganiser owns all the real estate on earth plus an assortment of galaxies and constellations. He knows everything and lives everywhere.
“Our product is free for the asking. Our CEO was born in a hick town, worked as a carpenter, didn’t own a home, was misunderstood by his family, hated by his enemies, walked on water, was con-demned to death without a trial, and rose from the dead – I talk with him every day.”
That is the Church you and I belong to.
So as we enter the New Year, have a word with our Lord (every day) and see what you can do to live as a Christian every day, to make this a better world.
The Rev Chiang Ming Shun, recently ordained as an Elder, is Pastor of Kampong Kapor Methodist Church.
CHRISTIANS RESPECT AUTHORITY
‘ Christians are not subversive traitors out to incite rebellion. We may be citizens of a heavenly kingdom, but our Bible tells us to respect the authority of every human institution, whether of emperors, governors or even slave-masters. Our history … has been one of service to society. In Singapore, we have started schools, hospitals, nursing homes, family service centres, counselling centres, mediation centres. Our practice is to pray for our leaders and country. Even our Methodist Social Principles clearly support National Service.’