We aren’t just called to be ONE church – a uniformed body, devoid of any uniqueness and personality. The church is diverse and its relationships dynamic! Chong Jin argues that it is precisely in these differences where the Christian faith is stretched and strengthened.
by Loy Chong Jin
Can science explain everything in the universe? Chaos Theory is the fascinating idea that structured systems can be derived from initial events that may appear unrelated, unpredictable and chaotic. Computers use mathematical models to calculate all the various possibilities so as to predict an outcome. This theory has been used in various fields: in medicine to predict how a heart would beat under different circumstances; in space science to plot the trajectories of satellites in space flights; in meteorology to forecast complex weather patterns, and even in economics to predict stock market prices.
Perhaps our journey with God is a bit like Chaos Theory. On the outside, we may appear somewhat calm and composed but underneath many of us are trying to work things out with God and with one another, wondering if our actions and words add up to reflect the character of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Similarly, the church as the body of Christ represents a complex system made of different individuals from all walks of life coming together to seek God and His righteousness. Despite all our differences and messiness, we hope that a beautiful picture of heaven on earth will emerge out of the cacophony of life.
So how are we journeying as a church in pursuit of God? The original title for this article was “Journeying Through Life as ONE Church” but I felt it was too focused on the idea of “ONE Church”. In contrast, a “ONE Another Church” paints a very different picture. It suggests a community that not only obeys the Old Testament commandments to love God and one another, but also acts upon the New Testament exhortation to love and edify one another, in both the church and the communities we live in. In fact, the phrase “one another” is such an important theme in the New Testament that it is used more than 50 times, mostly in the context of dealing with the church getting along and instructions for believers to love one another.
The admonishment for relating to “one another” is natural — after all, God is relational, and as followers of God, we are relational beings. That said, looking out for “one another” in the Body of Christ is very hard work! Real issues impact all of us in our journey of life, whether one is a Christian or not:
We have real conflicts, even if it’s as mundane as “Oh the worship music is too loud!”
We have personality differences with people who annoy or frustrate us — “Why he always like that ah?”
We have to deal with unexpected life challenges like health, work, finances, familial and social relationships.
We are challenged in raising young children or caring for the elderly and their varying needs.
We are confronted daily with living in an increasingly complex urban society, where we are called to make a strong impact for justice.
We meet cell group challenges/ issues, sin and moral failures in ourselves and people around us, personal imperfections, disappointments, and unmet expectations.
And the list goes on.
While it’s inevitable that we experience these events at some stage in our lives, of greater value is looking at these chaotic events as opportunities for growth and transformation as a church, rather than situations that would cause us personal guilt and shame. A perspective that these are divine opportunities to exercise the “one another” Bible verses would only help us grow in our faith — in learning humility, in encouraging and supporting the members of our church, and in drawing strength from God to do so.
So how can we, as a church, be transformed and shaped by God?
I was very encouraged by the attendance at this year’s COR One Church Camp — a record of 525 campers — the largest in COR’s history. We had the guest rooms that came with private dipping pools in each room, and to top it all we had our first ever mini-fireworks display that lit up the night sky in Port Dickson!
Still, what impressed me most was the camp speaker’s exhortation that unity is a product of our covenantal relationship with God and with each other in pursuing God, and helping others do the same so that “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt 6:10).
The speaker used the story of Joshua and the Gibeonites to illustrate covenantal relationships. Joshua 9 describes how Joshua was tricked into protecting the Gibeonites, who were actually pagan inhabitants of the Promised Land. When Joshua realised that that he had been tricked, he could have justifiably gotten very angry and revoked his oath. While it may be true that he had failed to seek God’s instructions, and perhaps felt humiliated once he discovered the trick, the point of Joshua 9 was that not only did Joshua not reverse his decision, he honoured the covenantal 19 promise to protect the Gibeonites. Perhaps this is what God wants us to do – to look beyond our personal inadequacies and focus on God’s sufficiency and the opportunities He allows for us to extend His grace and love to those who are not yet in His kingdom community.
As a “one another” church, what are practical ways that we exercise those “one another” verses in our unity, love, humility, and comfort? This list may be a helpful start: http://overviewbible.com/one- another-infographic/
In this issue of CHORUS, I trust that we will be richly blessed by stories of personal journeys with God and with one another. Take a while to consider the challenges of different members in COR and reflect how can we pray for one another, love and support each other in practical ways. Allow God to continuously shape and transform us so that we can serve Him better. Pray ceaselessly, love one another unconditionally, live faithfully and wait expectantly for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. All Glory to God the Highest!
Chong Jin worships with the Sunday service, together with his wife, Veronica. Whenever possible, he enjoys worshipping with SPS and CCF to get a pulse of the communities and what makes them tick. As the current People’s Warden at COR, he often gets asked, “What does a People’s Warden do?” he invites you to have coffee with him to find out more!
This article first appeared in Issue 17, November 2017 CHORUS Magazine.