Believe, Belong, Behave. Why the Order Matters

Pastor Ian sheds light on why belief should come first before belong and behave.

Last Sunday, as we looked together at Proverbs 6 we heard about the unique Christian challenge of living in a world of constantly shifting social margins. 

Aside from dying to self, one of the other ways Christians have historically responded to this tension has been to mobilise the Church to influence secular culture with kingdom margins. In doing so, our hope has been to so influence secular culture with the ethics of Christ that our government would begin to reflect a 'Christ culture' and so legislate according to (what we believe to be) His moral margins.

I have recently noticed that this seems to be the ambition of the Love Singapore initiative. Their vision is to “catalyse Kingdom transformation in the Seven Gates of Cultural Influence in Singapore”. Obviously, this is not the first time in history that the Church has organised in order to impact the social values of the world in which we live. In 1997 Jerry Fallwell, a Baptist pastor rose to prominence in America as he formed the Moral Majority, specifically in order to advance Christian values in the face of an increasingly secular American culture. The Moral Majority has been credited with electing several presidents who seemed to favour the Christian agenda.

But going back even further, missionaries travelled the world, spreading the ethics of Christ through Western (Christian mission) education. Because of the assumption that Western Culture was the closest thing to Kingdom Culture, nationals were taught to dress and act 'like Christians'. It is almost as if we have naively believed, that if we simply teach the nations how to behave like Christians then they would naturally believe, disarm their militaries, and then we would all belong to one large, happy family.

But there has never been a time in history in which these efforts have proven successful and I believe it is because we have mixed up the discipleship order. And the consequences are often obvious.

Imagine a church that is full of people who were drawn to the ethics of Jesus but unable to follow the example of Jesus. The result would be a community of people who involuntarily, yet consistently, damage one another with the common behaviours of the world. Why? Because no matter what he has been taught, a once-born man is not capable of the behaviours one would expect of a regenerated, purified, Spirit-led follower of the risen Christ!

I believe that in the great commandment to the Church, there is a reason that baptism comes first. There seems to be a God-ordained, discipleship order. Unless belief comes first, Christ-like community is impossible. Belief comes, so that we can belong. And it is only in belonging that we can practise regenerate behaviours. It is only in our adoptive family, that we can love one another, bear with one another, encourage one another, pray for one another, build up one another, care for one another, instruct one another and lay down our lives for one another. Each time we come together, He equips us to stir up one another to love and good works.

GBC, when God equips us to believe, belong and behave, He also equips us to live as a moral minority. We will not fit in. We will be peculiar. We will be in the world of Singapore, but not of it. In order to be noticed, salt and light must be different.

This Week:

  • This coming Sunday, the Lord will speak again through the book of Proverbs. Pastor Eugene will be teaching us from Chapter 10:12-21 and will encourage us to watch our language! Let me challenge each of us to read this passage ahead of time and prepare our hearts to respond to God’s Word.
  • Just a reminder, that this Sunday we will again receive a second offering in our service. This will be our last opportunity to give to needy families in our community whose children are attending MacPherson Primary School.
  • On 12 August, we will gather together with our Chinese-speaking brothers and sisters for our annual Thanksgiving Service. Please note that our service will begin at 10 am, with a fellowship lunch to follow. Because our lunch will be served on both L3 and L2, please consider parking off site so that our guests and elderly members can park on L1.