Ever spent some time in bed on Sunday mornings pondering if you should get up and go to church? Or even consider joining the virtual service online in recent times? Whatever the underlying reasons may be, understanding the privilege of religious freedom in the global context may help us in rekindling our lost fire and finding passion again. According to the website opendoorsusa.org, it contains a world watchlist that names 50 countries in the world that are most difficult to follow Jesus.
What does life look like for Christians who are living there? Depending on the extent of oppression, many Christians are unable to meet openly and joining a church is often unlikely. They would have to keep their faith entirely hidden without much fellowship and support. With the rampant political or religious oppression going on in these countries, it is often impossible for Christians to live out their faith. If discovered, Christians might risk losing their lives.
In light of the oppression faced by Christians all around the world, the opportunity to go to church and live out our faith is, in itself, something to be grateful for. The religious freedom that we experience in Singapore has been an intentional effort by the nation and should not be taken for granted.
Firstly, do not give up meeting one another all the more as the day is approaching. Referencing Hebrews 10:25-26, we are encouraged not to break off from fellowship with believers. All the more where the COVID-19 situation forces us to remain at home on Sundays, we should make every effort to be in connection with believers – even virtually.
Secondly, do not detach yourself from the life of the church. Shared by one of our visiting pastors in our church recently, one of the tell-tale signs that we are detached from the life of the church is when we no longer feel happy or sad when good things or bad things happen to our brothers and sisters within the church. On the flip side, it is also when you no longer want to share the good news or the bad situations you are going through with your brethren. By being absent physically or virtually, given this being the “new-norm” as churches have gone virtual, have caused many believers to drift away from the life of the church.
Lastly, do not give up living out your faith. It is easy for us to go about our daily activities without involving God in the picture. When work and rest becomes blurred, the exhaustion and burnout from unhealthy work patterns can be highly detrimental to our spiritual, emotional, mental and physical health. Going to church and serving God gradually become secondary as churches are not functioning fully given the many restrictions in place. Living out the faith that we have seems pretty diluted with the many other crises and situations on-going. Nevertheless, remember that God has called us out of darkness into the marvellous light. It is God who works in us to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose (Philippians 2:13). We are called to be carriers of the good news and seize every opportunity. Involve God in your everyday chores and see what a difference it will bring.
Get involved and get connected with the body of Christ today in consideration of how freely and how easy it is for us to live out our faith. The bible has warned us that in the last days that many hearts will grow cold. Now is the time for us to be covered by other believers in prayers, to be encouraged through the fellowship of the community and to stand strong together with the body of Christ to weather out this pandemic. Let’s not take our religious freedom for granted even in this “new-norm”.