Have you also noticed how in today’s world, we are seeing more strife and conflict arise in families and many more countries around the world?
Tearfully, strife is also on the rise in what was once a truly sunny Singapore where today, visits to the Family Court and grumblings over social media have become somewhat of a norm.
If we take a cold hard look at what is the underlying cause for these family and world issues, it is clear that it is the desire for power, money, comfort that causes us to rail against each other and break apart communities. When we struggle with these temptations, it is important to remember that Jesus, who was tempted by the devil to take the easy way out to overcome his hunger, turned to God the Father to resist and overcome any desire for power and comfort (Matt. 4:1-11).
In this Post, Rev. Lim Kim Hock expounds on this subject and the wisdom of why building a community makes more sense than breaking it apart in our personal search for wealth and power.
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Looking back at the early church, we are amazed at some of the things they did. We wonder whether LCOR can be like them.
Some may say: Well, times are different now. We can’t follow everything they did. We could consider it unrealistic to sell all our possessions and goods to meet the needs of the community (Acts 2:45; 4:34). However, as a congregation, we do desire to be a “community” like the early church.
Why do we need to be a Community?
i) We come together as strangers.
The early church consisted of the apostles and other early believers, but imagine the scenario when 3,000 converts were added to the church (Acts 2:41). In addition, new believers were added every day (Acts 2:47). Inevitably, many were strangers to one another.
How do strangers become friends?
When they have things in common:
- a few mothers waiting for their children;
- playing badminton together;
- when a group of students study at a particular location.
The early believers became a community when they shared together in their struggles to survive. They met regularly – to learn from the apostles, to pray, to worship, to eat together, to relate and talk to one another.
Today, many of us are still strangers to one another. We are fearful of telling a stranger how we struggle with our sins and problems in homes or the work place. We have yet to trust each one another completely. Like strangers, we hesitate to tell the truth to each other, lest we offend someone unwittingly. We are more concerned for our own privacy. We do not like people to dump their problems or impose their ways on us.
ii) We need each other.
The early church became a community because they had to face various needs together. The converts needed instruction in the Word. The poor needed money for food and shelter. As a church, they needed fellowship with one another. In the face of threats and persecution, they needed to be united in prayer for each other. Because of their common faith, struggles and needs, they became a community.
Today, we face similar needs. To grow spiritually, we need to gather at the Lord’s table regularly, learn from one another, pray for each other, love, serve and encourage one another. We need each other if we desire to be Christlike.
Socially and culturally, many are seeking love, acceptance and affirmation. In the midst of an increasing population, many are feeling lonely and sidelined. Changes in society and modern technology have often kept people busy and distant from one another.
iii) We need to be united in heart and purpose.
Although the early believers came from diverse backgrounds, they were one in heart and mind (Acts 4:32) because they shared a common faith and experience. They had tasted the goodness of God in their midst as they witnessed wonders and miracles done in the name of Christ. They were filled with joy as they worshiped together. They gave and shared their goods and possessions with those in need.
Today, many of us are indeed different – in character, age and cultural backgrounds – but we can testify of God’s goodness in our lives as we recall the many blessings and events in our lives. We stand today as believers who have witnessed the joy of trusting Christ. Some have experienced the joy of giving and sharing their material possessions with others. It is such common experiences that bring us together into becoming a community of one heart and mind.
We must confess that we are still in the process, striving together to achieve oneness. We still struggle with our differences. We have yet to fully accept and appreciate each other. Conflict arises, and it takes time to become a united community.
The way forward
While we recognize that the church needs to become a community, we also acknowledge our weaknesses. We need to rely on the work of the Holy Spirit, not our own strength, to build strong bonds of friendship and brotherliness. Also, as the church grows larger, we need smaller groups, where one can meet regularly to encourage and serve each other.
It is my prayer that LCOR can be a disciple-making, praying and family church and community.
∼ Rev. Lim Kim Hock