The term ‘First World’ is often used in reference to economic matters, such as standards or costs of living. But what would a First World righteousness look like? And how could Christians contribute to it?
This was the topic under discussion at the National Day Thanksgiving Service (NDTS), held on 17 Aug 2017 at the New Sanctuary of St Andrew’s Cathedral. Organised annually by the National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS), the service calls Christians here to join fellow Singaporeans in celebrating our country’s National Day, by acknowledging God’s providence and the goodwill that continues to thrive among our people. Clergy and laypeople gather at the yearly NDTS with the desire to pray and worship in unity as a community of believers, including politicians, civil servants, and civic and community leaders.
Representatives of various NCCS members participated in the NDTS, including Bishop Dr Chong Chin Chung of The Methodist Church in Singapore (above pic). The sermon was delivered by the President of NCCS, Bishop Rennis Ponniah of the Anglican Dicoese of Singapore, who spoke on “The 3 Ps to building a ‘First World’ righteousness”.
Bishop Rennis began by explaining the dangers of the First World – materialism, individualism and social polarisation. He suggested three ways, each beginning with the letter ‘P’, to build righteousness to safeguard against these pitfalls.
The first ‘P’ is to practice Christian ethics, which includes providing practical care for those in need, and engaging in the public square. It also includes expressing God’s love to others through forgiveness, as God builds up His people from a place of forgiveness.
Praying for shalom is the second ‘P’ to building a First World righteousness. Shalom is a Hebrew word meaning peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquillity. Bishop Rennis urged the congregation to pray to the Lord on behalf of Singapore, and recognised the integrity and foresight of Singapore’s leaders who were exemplary in putting the nation before themselves. He reminded the congregation to pray against forces that would undermine shalom, to pray for the moral gate of Singapore, and to pray for social cohesion within the country.
The third and final ‘P’ to building a First World righteousness is to proclaim the good news. Sustaining a righteous way of living requires a new heart – those who trust in Jesus and pursue righteousness with a new heart will be saved through eternity. The good news of Jesus can be proclaimed through the daily lives of Christians, and being good testimonies and stewards where God has placed them, whether in church or outside church.
Bishop Rennis closed by noting that it is indeed a great privilege to have freedom of worship in a multi-racial and multi-religious place such as Singapore, and exhorted the congregation to be steadfast in their belief while responsibly practising their faith in their everyday lives.
Dean Koh –
is a member of Christalite Methodist Chapel. He is a writer/journalist by occupation and enjoys taking photographs
Photos courtesy of the National Council of Churches of Singapore