Dear fellow CERC Saints,
Even as we rejoice in another CERC anniversary, I am constrained by the love of God and for CERC to write a bit more soberly and with an increased measure of gravity regarding the present state of our fellowship. Why now and especially for a Salt Shakers issue that celebrates our church anniversary, you may wonder? Well, apart from offering praises and thanksgiving to our Heavenly Father for preserving CERC thus far, I believe that we must also take stock of where we are – spiritually, that is; so that we may know how and what to commit to the Lord in prayer, plan to move forward for His sake, and further the cause of the Gospel.
I would like to refer us to God’s Word in 1 John 1 and the article’s key text in verses 6 and 7 – “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” The focus of this writing is – Endeavouring to fellowship in the Light: Are we doing it rightly before God? (Biblical references drawn from 1 John)”
When we fellowship in Christ, we do it ‘in the light’ – as sinners saved by grace. To further expand the meaning of ‘fellowship’, it must cover all manner of life including our dealings and relationships (1 John: 1-4). These latter aspects are what I hope to draw members’ attention to. Surely, all of us know that fellowship is not confined to only church lunch or a CK/CKS barbeque dinner, and the like (even if there is an exhortation or devotion included in the programme). Fellowship must also happen in the course of doing the Lord’s Work together and in counselling and building up of the personal Christian walks of our family members as well as fellow saints, all in the fear of the Lord.
If we agree on this, then allow me to express a concern – that is, if we are not sober and watchful at this point in time of our church building (which I believe is at a high point), we may gravitate towards a lackadaisical attitude of the heart in how we come together to serve our Lord God. As a church, we may unwittingly allow those ‘Me, Myself and I’ worldly inclinations and indifference to fester in our hearts, so much so that we may not even realise that spiritual darkness has set in for some time already, even as the light in us dim ever so subtly.
Let me elaborate by relating an activity that we do together every Lord’s Day – participate in the lunch-fellowship ‘ritual’. If we fellowship in the light, having lunch with fellow saints should not be a problem. Am I right? When we begin to queue, we will want to esteem fellow saints higher than ourselves. When we are served food by fellow saints, we are thankful to God for them to have the heart to serve us, and therefore we humbly accept what is served. When we take the food to the table, we are even at ease when we lunch with saints whom we usually are ‘most uncomfortable to be with’. At the slightest opportunity, we may even want to help him clear his plate and cutleries after the meal.
But, if we are not in the light, we let our guard down. Our carnal mind may get the better of our spiritual heart and it dims that light. We will begin to consider “What’s for lunch?” rather than staying focussed on the prayer meeting, fellowship meeting, or CI class that we are still in the midst of, and which precedes lunch.
At the risk of unintentionally offending some, let me suggest these other possibilities that our hearts may be dangerously inclined toward. When we are not in the light, we may even consider “jumping queue” or asking someone to queue for our own meal, just to avoid queuing like every other saint would be doing! When we are not inclined to fellowship in the manner that Christ would want us to, we would have already decided whom we would not sit with, let alone engage in Christian conversation. When we begin to consider ourselves above other saints who have been on duty preparing, serving and washing up after lunch, we may even knowingly leave an empty cup or cutlery unattended on the table as we leave our lunch table.
When we read 1 John, we will begin to be convicted in our hearts that in everything that we do together to further the cause of Christ (and not just fellowshipping over a Sunday lunch), we cannot but want to ‘shine’ for Him and His Church; or otherwise, we would grow dim and deteriorate into spiritual darkness and deceit. We will not want to be indifferent towards any saint. By which time, we may have grieved the Holy Spirit, stumbled and even wounded our fellow saints. This in turn breeds mistrust, betrayal, and as it is written in 1 John – lies and hypocrisy. While I pray and hope that each one of us, including myself, will not regress to that, I am also burdened to want to express a word of caution now. It is not my intention to ‘pour cold water’ during our celebrations. On the contrary, I pray that we do not even become ‘lukewarm’.
By walking in the light, we are always conscious that being in our flesh, we are no better than the other fellow saints. Therefore, we will want to endeavour to humbly acknowledge and accept the other saint, no matter how unseemly that brother may appear to us. As we are in the light, we will constantly strive to avoid ‘taking cover’ and instead move away from those dark corners that deny God and His saints when they seek us out to do His Will.
When we walk in the light, that light will shine forth and drive away the darkness in our hearts, so much so that those excuses of the need to attend to a chore or to attend to some work in office or church, may just give way to really doing what is right before God and His people. This shining forth may well include bonding in the most unearthly hour or dealing with a difficult issue a fellow saint has been facing for some time already.
Essentially, even as we receive hard (yet truthful) biblical doctrines through the preaching of the Word and from the many bible study sessions, devotions, etc., a heart that is in the light must also want to deal with all saints (regardless of spiritual maturity and character) to edify them. You will want to build him up to the next level of Christ-likeness. That heart of light will also be confident and fearless in engaging fellow saints on difficult issues; be they church or family matters. Be careful – as those who merely profess to be in the light, may do the former (only hearers of the Word) but will have neither the conviction nor even the inclination to do the other! I write this not of my own opinion or values, but of the Lord’s.
I urge us to heed God’s Word with gravity and consider 1 John 2: 8-11: “Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.”
So, dear fellow CERC saints, let us be reminded, that we do not unwittingly allow darkness (and therefore hypocrisy and lies) to dim that light in our hearts. The consequence can be disastrous to us, our loved ones and His church. Let us therefore remain watchful and continue to deal with one another only in His truth, His counsel and His love – never ours or each other’s. Let us dwell in His mercies and grace, knowing that we are always as much a sinner (saved by grace) as other fellow saints. Hence, this truth must surely convict us to show Christian charity and compassion. Just as we are called to love God with all our heart, mind and soul, we are to make every effort to ‘reach out’ to our fellow saints, instead of remaining (or worse, walking) in the dark.
In walking in the light, we cannot help but want to ‘shine’ for Him through sharing of our personal testimonies – both blessings and admonishments from the Lord. When we shine forth, we are delightfully constrained by His love to want to engage others and show Christ’s love to our family and fellow saints. When we fear the Lord, we are persuaded by the Holy Spirit and His Word to want to take a step lower and slower in order to serve and learn from the other ‘sinner- saint’.
In so doing, opportunities will abound and doors will be opened for us to submit to one another in His love. In so doing, we truly fulfil the law of Christ. If anyone fears that he may be taken advantage of (or lose out), let us look no further than Christ as the one to emulate: allowing Himself to be disadvantaged, cheated and betrayed – just to do His Father’s Will. Yet, Christ has prevailed and fulfilled the Gospel for us.
In closing, I wish each and every saint in CERC a very blessed anniversary, and that we may continue to be blessed richly, preserved for yet another year by His mercies and grace, and loved dearly by our Heavenly Father. As we celebrate our church anniversary, let us fellowship and reach out to one another; even as we are promised in His Word that our joy will be full. That fullness of joy, in turn, will no doubt cause us to draw even closer to each other in Christ, His Son, can give.
Written by: Andrew Tan | Issue 10