It was quite strange, somehow I thought it was a one evening affair but then later I found out it was one evening and then one whole day so that kinda threw off my plans, but I guess it was alright.
This has been a really important conference to attend for me. An opportunity that allowed me to think through deeper on some of the issues I have been feeling troubled about and decide just where exactly I really stand. It also gave me a much clearer understanding on the tricky fine line we have to navigate when it comes to love and truth.
Initially when I sat through the first evening I felt that while it was interesting information we needed to know, it could potentially rub off the wrong way in that it stirred up fears without providing answers. It could widen the divide and that would be terrible because an intolerant Church is an irrelevant Church.
I'm glad to have sat through the second day though. In particular I was very much encouraged by three segments. The first was when the law students came on stage and there was a panel discussion. These students are all probably from around my age to a couple of years older, but they articulated very well our situation, our challenges, our mistakes, and what the Church really needs, and what the Church really should do (and they were intellectually humorous while at it heh). I'm heartened to see these young people, sort of my peers, really rise up and be the salt and light of Christ.
It makes me realise even more that I'm really not young anymore. That I really cannot afford to take the backseat and roll along with life as if that is what it is all about. As the students put it, Christianity is not about applying God to our life, it is about finding our purpose in God's grand plan. Just working hard and getting A grades then saying 'praise God', or calling to God for help when something goes wrong, all that is good but it is not the point. These people are serving, and making an impact. They are living the life that Christ has called them to live. It reminds me of my own youth leaders in DI who while are quite old now *ahem*, they would have been roughly the same age as these students when they started taking charge of the youth ministry.
If I consider myself to be one who is passionate for the Kingdom, who's life purpose is to glorify God, then accordingly there must be fruit. I don't mean this in a restrictive, force yourself kind of thing, but true passion overflows. A wild fire burning within our hearts cannot be contained. I suppose it's something I have not thought deeply enough about and prayed enough about. What is the specific plan and purpose that God has in store for me in His kingdom work?
The second was Jason Wong's talk on fathers. It had a fair bit of similarities to the time he came to our Church to speak, but with additional things added on to it. I will not elaborate too much on them here.
The third was the closing discussion where pastor Lawrence and the two keynote speakers from the US talked about a few issues. Throughout the day I was finding that while there were hints of it, the issue of love and truth has not been explicitly dealt with. So I was glad that for the final segment, the first question they talked about was this. From the manner in which the keynote speakers spoke on the first day, you might have thought they would be rather hostile, but I see the passion in their speaking, their genuine plea that the Church reach out in love and not in condemnation. One of the keynote speakers specifically talked about how we cannot create a divide and cause things to become 'us versus them' but to really see as how God sees, to feel the heart of God. They went on to talk about a couple of other things as well which I found insightful and am really glad to have the opportunity to hear them speak.
In this conference, if there was one phrase I could use to sum it all up, it is what one of the keynote speakers said. It was 'a call to wake up to the heart of God'. Not wake up to dangers, that is not the main point, but rather a call for repentance in the Church and for the people of God to rise up and stand for the Truth in love. As one of the law students put it, in a world where evil is seen as good and good is seen as evil, we need to be like the first Church. We need disciples to rise up and turn the world upside down, right side up.
There are a couple of other things too that I won't elaborate on as well. Singapore as the Antioch of Asia, the lovesingapore movement and it's reach, the unity of the Church across denominations and across continents, as well as the cross religious unity for a common purpose and the positive externalities it generated. These are just a couple of things that provoked my thoughts.
So I am deeply encouraged. To know also there are many people feel what I feel, heck they feel it a lot more deeply than I do. To hear about the troubles in the US (especially California), and even hong kong and taiwan, and the perseverance through it all. These are people with deep convictions and are willing to follow Christ to Calvary. People who truly understand what it means to be persecuted for the sake of Christ. In the comfort of our country, we don't hear people making statements like 'pray for me, because when this bill is passed we are all going out to break the law' and 'if they try to silence me and put me in jail, I will still have an audience in jail'. Yet these are the realities.
Through it all though, there is that faith burning within them. The understanding that Jesus has already won the victory. That Truth and Righteousness will prevail. Pastor Lawrence mentioned that the Nazis tried to stop Dietrich Bonhoeffer. In a concentration camp in 1945, he was hung, but though his lips never spoke again, they could not silence him. The words he had spoken continue to ring throughout the world this day.
What will you live to do?
What have I left for you?
What will we leave behind?