Inspiring Hope in One Another
In times of suffering and despair, how can we persevere and grow in Christlikeness? Pastor Eugene shares a simple biblical approach presented during last weekend's The Compelling Community seminar.
In John Bunyan’s classic Pilgrim’s Progress, there is a scene where Christian and Hopeful are taken prisoner by Giant Despair. Languishing in the dungeon, Christian is on the brink of giving up. But Hopeful persists in encouraging his flagging friend. “Let us be patient, and endure a while,” he says. Then Christian suddenly remembers: “I have a key in my bosom, called Promise, that will, I am persuaded, open any lock in Doubting Castle.” Sure enough, the key unlocks the cell and both Christian and Hopeful escape the clutches of Giant Despair.
This episode teaches us several things about the Christian life: Firstly, remembering God’s promises enables us to defeat despair. Secondly, when we are discouraged and have difficulty recalling God’s promises, faithful fellow believers help strengthen us by speaking hope into our lives. This is the reason why the apostle Peter wrote to the Christians in Asia. They were suffering and in need of encouragement. So Peter reminds them of what God has in store for them: “He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by Gd’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Pet 1:3b-5) Because of this hope, these Christians can rejoice even though they are being grieved by various trials.
Last weekend’s The Compelling Community seminar also made these points to some 150 participants. Speaker Lee Hann Yang, who is a pastor at Evangel Bible-Presbyterian Church, encouraged us to bear one another’s burdens and so display the beauty of Christ’s love to the world. This is what makes the church a compelling, gospel-shaped community.
Pastor Lee presented a simple biblical approach that we can apply to our life together as a church. God calls us to: (1) love one another by being involved in one another’s lives, (2) know one another by being quick to hear and slow to speak, (3) speak the truth in love in order to build one another up, and (4) do the truth together, as we encourage one another in the obedience of faith.
All of us, as God’s redeemed people, have a part to play. God has placed us in one another’s lives for our common good. We depend on one another in order to persevere and grow in Christlikeness. Like Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress, we need faithful friends like Hopeful who will remind us of God’s goodness during discouraging times. As Paul urges the Thessalonian believers: “Encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.” (1 Thess 5:14b)
Over the next few months, our monthly Equip classes (9.30-11.30am, second Saturday) will build on what Pastor Lee taught at the seminar. On September 14, we will examine what the Bible says about how we grow in Christ amid the 'heat' of life. On October 12 and November 9, we will apply this to two specific areas: suffering and conflict, respectively. Do join us to be better equipped to bear one another’s burdens and help others become more like Jesus!
One of the ways we can encourage others is to pray with one another. Through Christ, we have the wonderful privilege of bearing another’s burdens before the Lord. Let’s also unite our hearts to ask God to advance His kingdom through us. So please come along for our monthly prayer meeting this Friday (Aug 30) at 8pm.
This Sunday, we will hear from Romans 10:1-13 about how Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. We will also be celebrating the Lord’s Supper together. May God prepare our hearts to hear His Word, so that we gladly submit to Christ’s loving Lordship. Let’s gather in true gospel unity with thankfulness to our Saviour, whose body was broken and blood was shed for us.