Committed to One Another's Christlikeness
Yanadi Sutan, our ministry worker for Christian Education, encourages us to get to know one another and be committed to one another's Christlikeness.
“Because we are blind to our own blindness, we need community.”
—from last weekend’s sermon by Pastor Oliver
Despite coming from a Christian family, I grew up spiteful of Christian community. By God’s grace, the means that God used to draw me back to him was through Christian truth that left me in a position where I had to choose whether I will be for Him or against Him, but I struggled with the idea of “Christian community”. In my mind, if every religion, philosophy, and lifestyle has a community that is “positive” and affirming, Christian community cannot be the thing that distinguishes the Christian faith from the world. Back then, coming to church was never to connect with like-faith people or “to be plugged in”, but to exclusively listen to the truth of God’s word sung and preached. I thank God for the Christians He has placed in my life to help me grow in my understanding and appreciation of Christian community.
It seems to me that most, if not all, GBC people appreciate Christian community. But I would not risk it by not sharing what God, through His word, has taught me about the importance of Christian community, and how it also distinguishes the Christian community from any other community. There may be few of you who are like me, and it is worth it even if I can help only one of you to understand and appreciate Christian community from God's word.
The most memorable reading during my internship with GBC in 2019 was that of Colin Marshall and Tony Payne’s The Trellis and the Vine: The Ministry Mind-Shift that Changes Everything. The book is by and large attempting to reflect the outworking of Ephesians 4 in the church. Instead of seeing the pastors as “Service-providing Clergymen” or “CEOs”, they are “Trainers” who equip church members to be able to minister to one another, so that the church is built up.
But how is the church built up? By saying nice things to one another? Is that it? No, verse 15 tells us that the goal is to be like Christ. In short, Christian community is not one where the people can affirm one another’s goodness and rebuke one another’s badness, just like any other community, but one where the people can affirm one another’s Christlikeness and rebuke one another’s lack of Christlikeness, and really where the people can be committed to one another because their shared main interest is one another’s growth in Christlikeness.
Such a community that is interested, not in everyone’s self-actualization, but in everyone’s “Christ-actualization” is indeed distinct from any other community there is in the world. There are several applications that we can take home from this biblical understanding of Christian community:
1. We minister to one another.
Ministry of one can be different from that of another because everyone’s giftings and needs are different. Such diversity is wonderful exactly because we are different members of the same body. And the only way that we individually and as parts of a common body can grow into Christlikeness is if we minister to one another.
2. We get to know one another.
We minister one another best when we know one another. Our church is unique in that we are inter-generational and coming from various backgrounds. As such, it is imperative that we get to know one another. Let us not limit our interactions only with those who are seasoned, or only with those who are burned with excitement, or only with those who are like us. Instead, let us seek to get to know one another indiscriminately so that we can minister indiscriminately. Ministry is not just hard, it is impossible. That is why we rely on the sovereign God to enable us, even and especially in the ministry to those who are impossible to love.
Getting to know and ministering to one another—Yanadi with his CG which comprises of: (anti-clockwise from top left) Crystalle and Jimmy, Ryan and Kat, Yanadi and Fellisia with Lazarus; and not in the photo: Song Huat and Eng Khin, Wei Tek and Che Eng, Jan, Chee Leong and Miauw Suang, and Moreen.
3. We treat one another as a family.
We do this because we know that we are committed to one another’s Christlikeness, and as such, we can trust one another. This also means that we do not always depend on the church leaders and staff to do things for us. It would be a dream come true if one day we have the cleaning, the security, and many other aspects of our church done by our own people. We would do likewise to our own family home, would we not?
4. We remind one another that community is the means, not the end.
I am saddened by the recent news about a radicalized 16 year old Protestant boy who planned attacks on two local mosques. This is why a proper biblical theology is needed. Although to New Testament Hebraic-Christians conquering the promised land at the expense of wicked nations was a familiar worldview, they did not pursue likewise on those who rejected Christ. Instead, the leader of the Hebraic-Christian church at the time had this to say to them:
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
This is not a display of weakness or inconsistency. Instead, it is a display of proper biblical-theological understanding that the bloodshed of the lamb of God is all-sufficient, and that now all Christians are called to take up the same cross for ourselves, not to crucify others. We can help fellow oppressed Christians by offering practical help, not by becoming their “Avengers”. We ought to remind one another that the community is not the “Endgame” for Christians, for our "Endgame" is Christlikeness.
Therefore, let me encourage us to attend this month’s Equip class on “The Gospel at Work” (http://gracebaptistchurch.sg/equip) to help us minister to one another in the aspect of vocation.
Another way we can serve one another is through the Children’s Ministry, which has resumed in-person classes. God has blessed us with a growing number of children. We have a wonderful opportunity to steward these young lives by discipling them in the gospel. To do so, we need to more than double the number of Children’s Ministry teachers from the current 30 to 80. Please pray for God to raise more labourers for his harvest. And do also consider serving in this important gospel work! Please contact our ministry worker Siew Ting (email@example.com) for more information.
We are thankful that many of us have started to re-gather for Saturday and Sunday services. We ask that you help us make the entry process smooth and quick by being punctual and prepared. If you are coming as a group, please do arrive together. Avoid waiting for one another at the ground floor to avoid crowding. Do leave the church premise immediately after service and do not mingle. Have fellowship offsite according to the government's guidelines on social gatherings.