Christ’s Finished Work: Unity

The world is experiencing great divisions, polarisation and tribalism. People are no longer listening to each other, not trying to understand each other’s position. They hold rigidly to whatever they believe in and they refuse to budge. The vocal ones are usually deeply entrenched in their opinions and beliefs. They are even willing to cancel out others who disagree with them. The need for unity in diversity is never greater than in today’s divided world.

The New testament church faced similar tensions in their congregations because both Jews and Gentiles have come to know Jesus Christ and find themselves in the same congregation. Their disagreements and disputes in theology, practices and expectations caused tension and disunity. 

St. Paul pointed to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the solution to divisions in the church. “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were  far off (the Gentile believers) have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one (conflicting Jewish and Gentile converts) and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility”(Eph 2:13-16 ESV). The walls of hostility and division between believers of Jewish and Gentile backgrounds have been demolished by the power of the finished work of Christ. And so too all other divisions caused by differences in gender, status, beliefs, nationality, race or language. God wants to form a vast community of people in Christ who love each other with a love that covers the cracks of divisions.

Therefore we should be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”(Eph 4:3). This unity was purchased and founded on the reconciling death of Christ. Maintaining unity is hard work and all believers must strive to do their part. It is worth the effort because unity is highly valued by God. It was so valuable he gave his only Son so that the gift of unity, a unity that first resided in the triune God may be established in the Body of Christ.

This is part of a planned series of writings on the topic, “The A to Z of Christ’s Finished Work”. I am writing it alphabet by alphabet. Thus far the others that I have written can be found HERE.

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Understanding the Catholics

I have included in my blogroll three blogs written by Singaporean Catholics. I believe that these are interesting blogs in themselves, but I encourage readers to explore them to understand more about Singaporean Catholics and their beliefs, and depend less on hearsay and preconceived ideas.

There is sufficient misunderstanding of differences among denominations to start a civil war, so every bit of openness and careful listening to appreciate one another is a move forward. The Church encourages inter-faith dialogue, so why not encourage inter-denomination, or inter-Christian tradition dialogue too.

One thing we digital citizens can do is read what Catholics write in their blogs. Here are three that I know of and they are all in my blogroll for your convenience. If you are using your mobile or tablet, the blogroll is below the articles after the Recent Posts and Themes. If you are using your laptop it is on the right sidebar.

For an immediate taste and see, click on the names here Fr Luke Fong, and Fr Chris Soh, SJ, and Jacinta Teo.

To look at summary of their beliefs on an official site click HERE.

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When pastors ride together in their Bromptons

At the Pasir Ris MRT we introduced ourselves and engaged in small talk while we waited for all to gather

This ride had an interesting element. Two of the pastors were new to the group: Jason and Vincent. We wanted to get to know them more, and of course to ride the park connector network from Pasir Ris MRT to Ponggol MRT.

It was my first time taking a Brompton on the MRT. It was a breeze even with the 6.30am crowd.

For me it was the first time I would be taking the Brompton bike into the MRT. Now we can do it at any hour. Formerly the bike was not allowed during peak hours. Some friends would be taking the Brompton on the bus from Potong Pasir to Pasir Ris.

I was at the Chinese Garden station at 6.30am. I live in between Chinese Garden and the Jurong East stations. I thought I should be able to get a seat but the train was full, and I was only able to get a seat when the train reached Eunos MRT station!

We introduced ourselves and waited for everybody to be present and then we took off. It was a pleasant ride all the way to Coney Island but after that the sun grew stronger and the Ponggol stretch was harsh.

A Halus Bridge wefie

Coney Island’s highly photographed green metal gate. They should spend money to do it up and make it iconic.

During the ride we took some breaks and Richard and I were doing some “evangelism” the wrong way. We were trying to sell the plus points of owning a Brompton bike to one of the pastors there. We extolled the great qualities like its compact fold, its engineering efficiency, its eye-catching uniqueness, its smooth ride, its durability and how it can be a great retirement vehicle. However we were too brash and near oppressive in our approach. So likely this friend was left with a bad taste in his mouth.

Waterwaypoint….at last!

We were happy to arrive at Waterwaypoint. The coolness refreshed us and we settled at the MacDonald’s at the basement. We got their coffee but bought buns from the Four Leaves bakery nearby. Here we were: Anglican, Pentecostal, Baptist, Evangelical, and Canaanite (haha). We got to know each other better and did what pastors did best: talk shop.

Vincent overpowered by two Kennys!

Interestingly we abandoned our original plan to ride to Brompton Road. Everybody had things to do. So we went off in different directions: some rode home to Potong Pasir and Toa Payoh. Vincent and I rode back to Pasir Ris where he parked his car. However, along the way an idea struck us so we tried calling Kenny Fan to see if he was free for lunch. He has moved to Pasir Ris Bethesda Mission Church. We have not met as a group for over a year. This was a good opportunity and we had lunch at Changi Hawker Center and good coffee at a cafe. It was wonderful to touch base as we updated each other on what’s been happening in our lives and pastorates.

Its always good to have friendships with pastors outside of your church or even denomination. There is a richness there, an anointing of life and abundance. How blessed for brethren to dwell together in unity, there the Lord commands his blessing. Do you have pastor friends outside of your church and denomination? Like to hear from you.

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Divisions in the body

divisions caused by misplaced allegianceMisplaced allegiance was a cause of divisions in the time of Paul and still is today. In the Corinthian church there were such divisions that Paul had to tick off the factions that competed with each other. “What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? (1 Cor 1:12,13).

As a result there was quarrelling and competition among the factions and like any father that would ache over his quarrelling children, so our Father’s heart aches over factions in the body. Misplaced allegiance shows symptoms such as the following:

-you distinguish and identify yourself from others by the name of a human leader.

-you compare those of your group with other groups and regard your group better.

-you regard the human leader’s teachings (rather than the overall teachings of scriptures) as the benchmark against which you evaluate other teachings.

-you give an allegiance to the human leader above your allegiance to Christ.

-you depend and put your trust in the human leader more than in Christ.

The solution is that in every church we give Christ the pre-eminence and centrality in our allegiance, our mission and our message. Filled with gratitude for the grace we have experienced, we give Him our heart’s full loyalty. We focus on the mission of preaching the gospel and keep our message focused on Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor 1,2).

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Blogpastor plagiarized

Never before has my stuff been plagiarized. When I read the latest post of Stillhaventfound, I felt that he has stolen the essence of what I have in my heart and put it in his own blog post. I have no proof, but he photocopied what was hidden inside my hazy neurons, so you’ll have to read it HERE and judge for yourself. Doesn’t it sound like me?  🙂

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