Sermon Details
Home Sermons Let’s Go

Let’s Go

Date: 22/06/2014/Speaker: Ps Gary Chan

Final Service at Aljunied
Let’s Go

God, as we go into the Word this morning, I pray that we will have open hearts and open minds to encounter You in the Word this morning. Don’t just touch us this morning, but I pray that we will be prepared to learn, grow and be transformed as Your disciples and for Your glory. I pray that you allow me to be a vessel and a channel for the things that You want to say and the things You want to do in our hearts in this time we share together.

Thank You for this amazing church and gathering these people that call this place home. Thank You for Your faithfulness every step of the journey the past eleven years we have officially been registered as a church, and since 1998 when the first seven people responded to Your call to start a ministry called SafeHaven to minister to LGBT people in Singapore. Thank You for Your unchanging love for every one of us and for every person who has come through these doors and experienced Your presence in their lives.

So speak to us now God, let Your Word come to us that would set us on a path that would allow us to know you more fully, to fulfil our call and Your mission in this world, so that You may be glorified in and through our lives and through the life of this church. In the name of Jesus we make this prayer, and all of God¡¯s people say Amen.

Looking Back

Every weekend at FCC has been special but today is particular a very significant day for us. Today we are having our very last service here at Aljunied. This has been our home for the last 7 years.

Take a good final look around. This will be last time we will be preaching from this pulpit. The last time we will be sitting on these chairs. The last time we will be huddling into the Rainbow Room for our meetings. For many of us, this has been the first and only place we have known. And in about an hour from now when this service is over, we will be taking everything down and by the end of next week, we return this venue to the landlord and start our life as a church at One Commonwealth.

Next week, we will settle in a new land filled with new hope, new opportunities – a new chapter in the life of our church – a fulfilment of the promises of God in the life of this church. We will share later on how to get to the new venue at One Commonwealth, but please don’t come here next weekend!

The Great Commission – Making Disciples

For today’s scripture reference, I am going to build on the message that Rev Miak started last week out of the passage of scripture from Matthew 28:16-20, also known as the Great Commission.

Do you remember what he shared with us last week? The video is up on our website already but Miak began by reminding us that too many times, when we quote from the Bible, we take the portions we want, and leave some important parts out, and forget the context.

Miak looked at the heartbeat of the Great Commission. Matthew 28:19 says to “go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” and then, “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you”.

The objective of the Great Commission is to make disciples.

A disciple is a follower of Jesus. Today we use “follow” to say that we are a “fan” of something or somebody. I “follow” her blog; I “follow” his Instagram account. But back then to be a follower of someone, it meant that you observed, learnt and lived in the same way that person did. And Jesus was telling His disciples to go make disciples – teach others to live in the same way that He did.

Out of everything that Jesus taught, the most important of the “everything” or the summation of the “everything” that Jesus commanded referenced back to the Great Commandment. You find this in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke when Jesus was responding to a question from the teacher of the law about which is the greatest commandment – which was “to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” and “to love our neighbour as ourselves.”

The interesting thing is that the Great Commandment was pointing not to something new, but giving focus to something old. In Matthew 22:40, Jesus goes on to say that all the law that has been given, all the things that the prophets have said hang off these two commandments. This was the new “old” thing.

When Jesus replied with the Great Commandment, He not making up something new. He was quoting something that would have been very familiar to the Pharisees. Jesus was quoting directly from the book of Deuteronomy from the Torah (which literally means “teaching” or “instruction”).

God had given this same instruction to Moses and Moses was teaching the same commandment to the people of Israel in Deut 6 at a very interesting time in the history of the people of Israel – they were just about to enter the land promised to them by God.

If you came early this morning, or have read Rev Miak’s postings over the last few weeks or were at the tenth anniversary “Homecoming” service last October, you would have seen and heard about some of our history of the journey of this church and how it parallels the journey of the Israelites in Exodus.

This church started as a liberation out of the oppression our “Egypt”. We encountered our first burning bush moment – our first call to become a church – when we started a worship service on Saturdays because one of our friends in SafeHaven was ex-communicated from his church because of his sexual identity.

We experienced a God who made a way where there was no way – an open and affirming church in Singapore? Like the Israelites we experienced the God who parted the Red Sea, who made a way to register ourselves as a church when it had never been done in Singapore.

We experienced a God who provided for us like when God provided manna and quail – bringing us people, resources, talent that became part of this community that allowed us to exist, learn, grow and mature even while we were grumbling week to week about how things weren’t working, how this place wasn’t safe, how we didn’t have enough people who cared and how hard it was to do this ministry.

Like the Israelites, we moved from place to place in our exodus journey and experienced God’s leading as the cloud by day and the fire by night – from a small borrowed HDB flat on Zion Rd, to a borrowed home office on Zion Rd, to an art studio, to a gay bar in Tanjong Pagar, to the attic above a gay bar, to a game arcade sandwiched between two cinemas showing pornographic movies in Chinatown, to this home that we have had for the last seven years in the heart of the red-light district of Singapore.

And like the people of Israel at that moment, as a church we are now on the brink of entering into the land that we were promised by God. Like the people of Israel, God has taken our brokenness and raised us up to new life. Like the people of Israel, God has gone before us, united us as a people and defeated the giants.

So today I believe we need to hear and obey the same instruction that was given to the Israelites from Deut 6 –

Deut 6:1-3
6 These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, 2 so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life.3 Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you.

The promise here is that we will be moving to a place with a lot of opportunity as God promises us. We will increase greatly as we welcome others home. Then here is the quote where Jesus referred to –

Deut 6:4-7
4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

The long sermon from Moses goes on and on to then remind the Israelites that as they flourish and thrive in the land, not to forget the Lord all that God has done, to teach it to others that come after them.

As our church prepares to enter to our promised land, take a moment to remember all the things that God has done in your life and through this place. Let’s take a moment to intentionally remember. Where you were before you were a part of God’s household, what you have found here – your liberation, your people, your identity; what your have learnt about God. And that the new thing that we anchor ourselves in and must not forget as we go into something new is the old thing – to love God with our heart, mind, soul and strength, and our neighbour as ourselves.

If you remember, Miak asked us to take a few minutes at the end of each day to reflect and record down how we have loved God today and how we have loved our neighbour today.

How many of you have done your homework this week?

I’ve tried and I have found in my reflections that it is not so easy to say that I have truly loved God or truly loved my neighbour.

I find a moment that I was loving, then I remember the next moment that I go do something that wasn’t loving at all out of my own fears or insecurity.

Or I realize that I have my own self-serving agenda that I have wrapped up under the disguise of being loving.

Or I find that while I am being loving to call someone out for something they have done because I care about them, I haven’t done it in a way that is compassionate, encouraging and helps someone to receive it and learn and grow.

Loving God and people is our call as disciples of Christ but it is not easy. So practice, practice, practice. The root word for disciple comes from discipline. Zihao often reminds me that practice doesn’t make perfect; it makes permanent, and we progressively experience our own renew-vation, our own renewal of who we are at reflecting who the Christ we say we worship is in and through the actions of our lives.

The Great Co-mission – One Commonwealth

The Great Commission is about us as individuals and corporately lining ourselves up with the will of God. It is about the breaking the kingdom of God into every area of life. You can think about this kingdom that is based on love for God and love for our neighbour as the way of life as “One Commonwealth”. Isn’t that awesome that the way we are called to live is embedded in the name of the place our church is moving to?

This way of living is often counter cultural to the world – opposite to the values of the world. The world is focused on the “self” – it’s getting my way and my personal happiness that matters most. I am going to let you in on a secret you probably already know – when you live your life in the will of God, you will not always be happy when you don’t get your way, when you face injustices being done to you or to the people around you. But instead, you will discover a deep joy that surpasses all understanding that comes out of your relationship with God, that you have a call of God on your life, that God wants to use you in God’s Great Co-mission.

The Great Co-mission is about being “on mission” with God. Missions is not limited to a small group of missionaries going over to some far away country to preach the gospel. It is for every disciple of Jesus Christ as we are called to live all of our lives Monday through Sunday intentionally lined up with the purposes of God in all things. Our call as disciples is the breaking in of this Commonwealth of God into every area of our lives.

Eph 1 is a my favourite passage of scripture that puts it this way in the Message version from verse 22-23 –

Eph 1:22-23 (The Message)
At the center of all this, Christ rules the church. The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ¡¯s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.

So this scripture tells us that Jesus is the head of the church and we are His body in which God today speaks and acts and fills everything with God’s presence.

Being on mission is recognizing that as a member of the body of Christ, we each have a call on our life to participate in the Great Commission and we each must make a commitment to live out that calling.

This invitation to participate is beautifully encapsulated in a single word in the Great Commission. It is the word – “Go”.

Go

“Go” means to act, to do something. And we are called to go into the world – not go over to the world that is someplace else. The church is called to be in the world, not hiding away from the world. We are not over here separate, and we go over there to do something. The church is called to go into the world we are a part of – the dominant culture, the systems, the people, the relationships we have, the work we do – and break in the Commonwealth of God.

Turn to your neighbour, look them in the eye and say, neighbour, let’s “go”!

Being on mission means that you have made a decision to act; to “go”.

Stonewalled

When you decide to go, the one thing I can guarantee that you will face is resistance; you will be “stonewalled”. It’s sounds simple, but it is not easy to “go”. And that’s why people either don’t “go” or haven’t made the decision to “go” or have decided that “going” is not for them.

Where does this resistance come from? Sometimes it comes externally – when the disciples decided to follow Jesus, they were constantly “stonewalled”; they met resistance. Paul writes that he was constantly having trials and tribulations come against him. When you speak up and act against injustices, against oppression, against privilege, against the culture of “me”, guess what? You are going to meet resistance. Jesus promised that in this life, you will have tribulation. Following Christ doesn’t eliminate that; if anything, it enhances it. You are being an agent of change and you should expect resistance.

But other times, and more often, resistance to the call to “go” is internal – it comes from within us. Being “on mission” is inconvenient; it is a sacrifice; it is a costly; it is commitment. And for those reasons alone, many will say no thank you, or I am too busy in this season of life to be “on mission”. Being “on mission” doesn’t mean that you have to always go somewhere, it means that you make a commitment to live your life as a disciple – in all areas of life, and that can start today in the ordinary, everyday things.

But the deeper source of resistance that I have realized for myself and in others, is a resistance that comes from fear and unbelief. Deep down, we have unbelief of what God wants to do in us and through us. We have fear about what happens if we can’t do it or what if we get it wrong or if we fail? We have unbelief of who God is – and we fear that God will short change us if we live our lives in a greater way “on mission”. We have unbelief that the living God is with us, that wants to use us, wants to lead us and wants to use each of our gifts, talents, abilities and resources to be a blessing to others.

If you have unbelief, it doesn’t mean that God wants to use you any less. You know even the eleven disciples who received the Great Commission had unbelief with Jesus standing right there with them. Before giving them the Great Commission, look what it says in Matt 28:16-17:

Matt 28:16-20
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, ¡°All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.¡±

The eleven went to a mountain in Galilee to meet Jesus. They saw Him. The worshipped Him. But some believed; and some doubted. But they were all given the same Co-mission.

If you look in the way the disciples were called to gather into community as the church in the New Testament, they were called to support each other; to encourage each other on the journey to move from unbelief to belief. How do we do that?

With You Always

One of the key foundational elements of the Christian faith is anchored on the belief that we do not worship a dead object; or commemorate a spiritual leader who has passed; but that we worship the living God who created us and is alive and active in our life and in the world today.

This promise is so important and it is embedded in the Great Commission, but like Miak said, we sometimes miss out the important parts. The Great Commission becomes an instruction setting us up for failure without this key part.

Look at verse 20, starting from verse 19:

Matt 28:19-20
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, ¡°All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.¡±

The key of how the disciples move from fear and unbelief to faith and being willing to confront that fear is in the promise that Jesus Himself would be with them, always, regardless of how they lived their lives, the decisions they made, the situations they would get themselves into, He would be with them. And not just for a season, to the very end of the age.

Today when you look back at the last eleven years we have journeyed as a church; we see a God who is with us. Look and see all that God has done in this community, all that God continues to enable us to do because as God was with the people of Israel and the disciples then, God is with us today.

You know we will be moving to One Commonwealth next week, and we will be going through the set up and then three special services right away – an inauguration service; the annual youth service and the dedication service. It is easy to see all of that as a whole lot of work up ahead. But today I want to encourage all of us to look at the purpose in what we do what we are going to do – to welcome people home into the unconditional embrace of God’s love; to know that God’s presence is alive and active with us today; to move people from unbelief to belief; from fear to stepping out in faith; to know the God who is with us and for us; to make disciples that will life out their lives loving God and loving people.

Are you ready to write the next chapter in your life and in the life of this church together?

When you line up your life with the mission of God, all things are possible. All the things that you need will be added to you. All of God’s promises are yes and amen.

God is calling you and me and working in and through the life of this church and it will surely come to pass according to God’s will because all authority in heaven on the earth has been given Jesus.

Dear friends, thank you for being faithful to the call of God in your life for the past eleven years that we have been a church. We are here today, right now, because you have responded to the call of God on your life.

Are you ready to turn the page and begin the next chapter together?

Let’s not forget God’s commandments, let’s not forget that God is with us, and let’s “go”.