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The People Of God 2.0

Sermon passage: (Colossians 3:12-17) Spoken on: September 12, 2021
More sermons from this speaker 更多该讲员的讲道: Rev. Wong Siow Hwee
For more of this sermon series 更多关于此讲道系列: Colossians

Tags: Colossians

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About Rev. Wong Siow Hwee: Rev. Wong is currently serving as a pastor in the children and young family ministries, as well as the LED and worship ministries.

Title: The People of God 2.0
Date: 12 Sept 2021
Speaker: Rev. Wong Siow Hwee

What would you do right now if you were the Taliban? I find myself reflecting a lot on that question. The Americans have left, and they have just toppled the corrupt Afghan government. Understandably, Afghanistan has many internal problems to resolve, but it is still possible to really have a fresh start. They also promised to be different this time, to build an inclusive, strong and prosperous society. The world will now wait and see. From 1996-2001, they forcibly applied whatever they learnt literally from the Islamic schools. It turned into a humanitarian disaster with massacres and atrocities to women. But this time it would be Taliban 2.0. [1] What would you do if you were the Taliban? What kind of Afghanistan would we see?

A new beginning is always full of uncertainty, but also full of possibilities. It is important to stay realistic and acknowledge that existing issues remain; but a new beginning is also a chance to introduce a new perspective to the present situation, and to do something to transform it. As of this moment in history, China is re-examining the balance between socialism and capitalism. Who knows, maybe one day it might demonstrate to the world the best possible model of this balance. The “common prosperity” (共同富裕) that they are trying to achieve would be Chinese Capitalism 2.0. [2] America is also at a pivotal moment in terms of foreign policy. If it somehow gets the right balance between isolationism and globalism, it would be able to maintain world order without actual wars needed. That would be Pax Americana 2.0. Singapore is also facing a new beginning. If you had listened to the recent National Day rally, you would know that the labour force in Singapore would be facing a big transformation in the coming years in terms of wages and foreign labour. We are in the process of figuring out how to support our poorest workers, while keeping the economy open and competitive. That would be Singapore Progressive Wage Model 2.0. [3]

I like to reflect on new beginnings because I’m inherently a hopeful person. For the sake of the people in Afghanistan, I sincerely hope that the Taliban 2.0 gets it right this time. Who’s to say that Afghanistan would not prosper if they could really bring out the best of Islam in their governance? In the same way, I also hope that China figures out how to control the ills of capitalism, and for America and Singapore to do the same with their respective problems. We should not be naïve about the difficulties of the challenges, but at the same time, we must not become cynical from failures, and fail to dream of the possibilities of a true transformation. As Singaporeans, I believe we are a brave people, because we tell ourselves “we’ve did it before, and we’ll do it again.” As Christians, we must be even more courageous in dreaming big about our community, because we know that our God is the God of Creation. When we are willing to be co-creators with God, the future is blessed with divine possibilities.

In today’s sermon, I started by talking about nation building and people moulding, because at the point in time when Paul was writing to the Colossians, as the beginning of a new people of God, that must have felt truly momentous. Paul reminded the new church in Colossae that they were a “chosen people, holy and dearly loved.” These were the words that described Israel, the people of God in the Old Testament. Holiness means being set apart for sacred use, similar in meaning to being chosen and elected. Set apart for what? They were told to “clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Each of these relationship qualities described by Paul, including forgiveness and love, are not just human virtues but divine attributes as well. They were reminded that this was how God described himself in self-revelation to Israel (Exodus 34:5-7), and evidently demonstrated in his long-running relationship with them. Just as God was compassionate and forgiving to Israel, so the people of God must be like that to one another. Their patience and love were modeled after God’s own patience and love for them. And if Israel could display such divine attributes in their kingdom, then truly the vision of Isaiah 2 would come true.

Isaiah 2: 3 Many peoples will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the temple of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
so that we may walk in his paths.”
The law will go out from Zion,
the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

And Paul used similar words to describe the church. I call it People of God 2.0. If we were to be honest and realistic about the challenges at that time, internally, the Colossians had to deal with their sins and conflicts, externally, they had to deal with cultural influences of the Jewish past and Greco-Roman present. How would the new people of God be different from Israel, the previous version, this time round? Similarly, I dream of a new beginning for Jubilee Church. Unlike the Colossians, the Galatians or the Corinthians, we have not had any major conflicts or divisions. But the bar should be a lot higher. We have a calling to be an example of godliness to the world.

So there is only one bar that every Jubilee member in the community should aspire to. And that bar is Jesus Christ, the full manifestation of the grace and revelation of God (John 1:16-18). Jesus is mentioned 3 times in the passage today, the peace of Christ, the message of Christ, and the name of the Lord Jesus. Our calling is to live out Christ. First, 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. The peace of Christ goes beyond the customary Jewish greeting of Shalom .[4] When Jesus described his unique peace in John 14:27, he was talking about the Holy Spirit who is also the Spirit of Truth. If we are willing to be submissive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, then we have the true peace of being in union with God and fellow men. In short, the Holy Spirit is what transforms our hearts.

Secondly, 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. Just as the Holy Spirit transforms our hearts, the Word renews our minds. Worship is the spiritual process of reconnecting with the word of God, whether it is your daily devotions, or in congregational services. We can worship God using the Psalms, or we worship Jesus with song lyrics which describe what he has done. In sermons, we are reminded of the love that we must exercise in our lives. In worship, our hearts and our minds both acknowledge God as our Creator and savior, and Jesus as our Lord. In short, worship nurtures our thoughts towards spiritual maturity.

Lastly, 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Calvin reminded us, “If we seek salvation, we are taught by the very name of Jesus that he possesses it.” [5] Simply put, the name of Jesus carries the power and authority of Jesus’ work of salvation. Doing everything in the name of Jesus is to do it with faith. In Mark 12: 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. If your heart is transformed by the Holy Spirit, and your mind is renewed in worship, I believe your soul and strength are derived from your faith in the name of Jesus. So Paul was telling the Colossian church to do everything with the full conviction of their salvation, with the belief that what Christ had done for them would also be manifested in the lives of the church community and beyond. In short, faith in the name of Jesus is the source of your will-power.

Thanksgiving is mentioned twice and gratitude is mentioned once in the three statements about the peace, message and name of Jesus. This repetition and reminder about thankfulness must be intentional. What God has done and what God will do go hand in hand. Similarly, if we are thankful for God’s work in our lives in the past – the peace that was established in Jesus – then all the more we should be grateful for the future of God’s work – the peace that would be accomplished though our Lord Jesus Christ. We give thanks with faith in Jesus’ name, knowing that God’s purposes will surely be done.

If our calling as the people of God is to be fulfilled through Jesus, it means that Anybody can do it. Each one of us has the Peace of Christ in our hearts, the Message of Christ in our minds, and the Name of Christ in our wills. But my message isn’t that Anybody could do it. My message is for Everybody to do it.

You may have heard this story called: “Whose Job Is It, Anyway?”
This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have. [6]

You may have identified the crux of the issue, so prevalent the main obstacle in the process of molding a community. We often assume that if Anybody could do it, then Somebody would do it. But that is seldom the case. Most communities would have to give up at this point. The challenge to transform Everybody is too tough. Most would have given up, but not Jubilee Church. We have been made holy and loved by God to serve this very challenging calling. Brothers and sisters, we have a job for Everybody, not just Anybody. What is it going to take for Everybody to treat people with Christ-like kindness and generosity in this place? When there are newcomers, welcome them. Invite them to your cell groups. When there are conflicts, resolve them. Be forgiving. Be peacemakers. Most of all, bring warmth to the community. I do not need to teach you what to do, because Jesus has instructed in Matthew 7: 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Do not assume Somebody or Anybody can do it. You and I should do it, because it is for Everybody to do it in Jesus Christ.

Jubilee is a really small community. Small enough to feel a big difference if each one of us just put in a minor adjustment in how we treat one another. I would like to suggest three ideas of love languages.
1. Words of affirmation: As Paul suggested in 1 Corinthians 12: 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. So please remember to affirm our ushers, the PA crew, facilities staff and so on.
2. Acts of service: Even better than affirmation is to serve alongside us in the service ministry. The best way to offer thanksgiving is to join the team. You can do this simply by approaching Deacon Eric and Deacon Vicky, or by telling your zone pastors.
3. Quality time: Lastly, spend time with one another. Don’t assume everybody has no time for you. You don’t know until you offer your time. They say prevention is better than cure. If we know one another, I believe the community will become stronger as well. Start small. Send a message. I guarantee it will be a 3-minute time well spent.

[5]Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 2, Chapter 16, paragraph 19

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