Pastoral Perspectives


On 25 June 2022, we gathered as a spiritual family for a one-day retreat in the church premise. We were supposed to have a church camp in 2020 but that didn’t happen due to Covid-19; it couldn’t take place the following year either. When the government started to relax the safe management measures this year, we decided to hold a scaled down camp instead – a church retreat!

Having a church retreat is not new. 5 years ago when we celebrated our church 25th anniversary, we also conducted a retreat of similar nature. We are glad that Rev Dr Robert Solomon who was our speaker for the last retreat was able to return as our speaker this year.

Coming out of the pandemic, it is good for us to be reminded what the church is all about. How can we be a vibrant, alive and authentic community of faith? Such a community is marked by 3 characteristics:

  • Oneness with Christ
  • Oneness with each other
  • Oneness in ministry to all the world

We cannot be one in ministry to all the world unless we are one with each other. We cannot be one with each other unless we are one with Christ.

The quality of our church community and ministry depends on our relationship with God. Church revival has to begin with each one of us.

In light of what I have learnt over the retreat, I’d like to pen down my thoughts and suggest some concrete actions we can take so that we are not hearers who forget but doers who act.

Oneness with Christ has to do with abiding in Christ just as the braches abide in the vine. One with Christ means that I am in Christ and Christ is in me. Think of a ship sinking into the sea where the ship is in the water and the water is in the ship. There is so much intimacy between God and us when we are drawn into the fellowship of the Trinity; we are in God and God is in us in the person of His Spirit.

This happens when we put out faith in Jesus – we are borne again; we are spiritually alive; we are a new creation. The indwelling of the Spirit is an on-going process. In Ephesians 5:18, the filling of the Spirit is in the present continuous tense, which means we must constantly come under the influence and control, and therefore, the power of the Spirit.

To cultivate this oneness with Christ, we ask the Lord to give us the desire and discipline to spend time with him in silence and solitude, and in Word and prayer.

Let’s set aside time in a particular part of the day (for me, it is in the morning) where we can sit at the feet of Jesus and be still and know that he is God! These spiritual practices can help us to be attuned to the Spirit’s frequency for the rest of the day so that we are ever mindful of God’s presence in our lives and our communion with him is 24/7.

If we are one with Christ, we must inevitably be one with each other. It is only logical.

If you are one with Christ and I am one with Christ, how then can you and I remain as enemies?  It doesn’t make sense!

If you have been drawn into the fellowship of the Trinity and I have been drawn into the fellowship of the Trinity, and it is a fellowship of perfect love that we have been drawn into, can there even be room for a hint of hatred between us?

If we refuse to resolve our differences and if we are unwilling to forgive each other (forgiveness must be backed up by actions), then either one of us or both of us are not one with Christ. This is a sombre warning which we must take heed.

As a church family, let us not be too quick to walk away from each other just because we cannot see eye to eye over some issues or we have different styles of doing things or we cannot stand each other’s mannerisms.

If only we are less sensitive (we always think people are talking bad about us when no one is actually doing so), and if we are less judgmental (let’s cut each other some slack since we are all sinners saved by grace and we are all works in progress), we will be able to nurture a more embracing and welcoming community.

If we are ever tempted to give up on our brothers and sisters, can we turn our eyes away from them just for a moment and lift our eyes up to Jesus so that when we look back at our brothers and sisters again, the pain and the heartache ought to be lifted. Didn’t the apostle Paul say?

“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” (Romans 15:7)

A united community will always serve a missional purpose. Jesus in praying to the Father for the church says:

“I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” (John 17:23)

The basis of our oneness in ministry to all the world is our oneness with each other, and the basis of our oneness with each other is our oneness with Christ.

Wouldn’t it be great when, as a church, we can arise and move forward with one heart and one voice to pursue the Great Commission of bringing the message of reconciliation to the lost and building up the body of Christ so that we can be mature and perfected in our faith?

Let us be strong and courageous because the Lord himself is with us – he will never leave us nor forsake us. In fact, he is hard at work and he invites us to come alongside him to be his partners.

If all of us avail ourselves as his co-workers, not just the leaders of the church but the whole church, in unity of mind and spirit, using all the spiritual gifts that our gracious God has endowed on each one of us, how much more can God accomplish through us?

As long as we abide in Christ and his Word abides in us, we will have success in doing kingdom’s work. This success need not be translated into numbers or what the eyes can see although I do wish and pray that God will grant us some encouragement in this aspect.

Regardless, we shall walk by faith and not by sight!

We will take God at his word and believe that as we faithfully come together as one in ministry to all the world, something spiritually significant is successfully happening in the hearts of the people and in our own hearts.

It is good that we don’t witness too much visible success lest our hearts be puffed up. It may be that the fruit of our labour will only be made known when we see Christ face to face. We will then be pleasantly surprised but we won’t give too much attention to it as we, the universal church, will be too preoccupied with worshipping God with one heart and one voice.

Rev Lee Kien Seng

July 17, 2022