Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Philippians 1: Engage or Escape?

Phil 1:21-26 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.

When I was a young Christian in my teens, one of our our favourite choruses was: "This World is not My Home." The verse went: 

This world is not my home, I'm just a passing thru
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue
The angels beckon me and onward I must go
I just can't feel at home in this world anymore!

This other-worldly faith I've since found to be more Greek than Hebrew. The biblical (Hebrew) view of the Kingdom of God changes my whole perception of our mission and call. The Greek idea of salvation is ESCAPE from this world (save the "soul" only, the body is evil). The Hebrew idea of salvation is holistic, it ENGAGES this world through God's power. "Heaven came down and glory fills my soul" is what the Good News is about. Not just a promise of a pie-in-the-sky-when-you-die, but a realization that you can have the cake and eat it too -- while still on earth! Jesus teaches us to pray "Your Kingdom come. Your will be done on EARTH as it is in heaven." Of course, we now have the morsels, but one day when Jesus returns, we shall enjoy the biggest Cake to celebrate the birth of a New Age under God's rule! 

As the election fever heats up here in Singapore, Christians can either withdraw from the fray or engage in the fray. If we believe that "This is My Father's World", then political and social engagement to transform God's world is part of our mission to proclaim the Good News about the Kingdom. We are called to bring Kingdom values into the social, educational, economic and political dimensions of society, to transform it so that the people might enjoy God's blessings through godly leadership. 

We can never be content to "minister" only inside the four walls of the church comprising believers but ignore the challenges faced by the rest of the world. Jesus taught us in Matthew 5:45 that the Father "causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous," implying that God's blessings are not just to be confined to believers, but to be shared with everyone. We should stop asking our Sunday congregation: "Are you BLESSED?" But we should be asking, "Are you a BLESSING?" 

Societal transformation is part of the Good News about the Kingdom of God, because God's Kingdom is like yeast to infuse and transform the world's dough. And we are that yeast in the dough from Monday to Saturday, not just minding our own business while trying to earn our living, but rather actively minding God's world by extending and applying His kingdom principles and values into our offices, schools, campuses and barracks. We have a mission to let those who are still outside the Kingdom to experience Kingdom blessings first, so that they would want to become members of the Kingdom.

But if the yeast is kept within the walls of the church and refuse to mix with the dough for fear of contamination, we would miss the opportunity to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom by letting the wider community experience the foretaste of heaven.

It's only when people know the joys of Kingdom life that they would want to enter it. And we are agents of the Kingdom of God, promoting Kingdom values through social and political engagement with our society. What better time to get involved than GE2011, to help build a godly society that makes every Singaporean proud - not just about our GDP, but about our social, educational and political institutions because they are founded on Christ-honouring moral and spiritual values.

Father, what blessings we are enjoying as Your Kingdom people. May this blessings overflow into our society that they may experience Your rain and sunshine and will want to know the God who showers such blessings upon His creation! Amen.