Pastoral Perspectives

The God of Second Chances

At a wedding ceremony, the pastor asked if there was anyone who had any reason why the marriage shouldn’t go on; it was time to stand up and speak, or forever let them hold their peace.

The moment of utter silence was interrupted by a young beautiful woman carrying a child. She started slowly walking toward the pastor.

Everything quickly turned to chaos. The bride slapped the groom.

The groom’s mother fainted. The bridal trail scooted towards the door. The groom’s men huddled together like a bereaved flock, wondering how best to help save the situation. The pastor asked the woman, “Can you tell us why you came forward? What do you have to say?” The woman replied, “I can’t hear from the back.”

LESSON: Hold judgment until you’ve had all the facts!

But it is very likely that we will never have all the facts, so don’t be too quick to judge.

Everyone would know what has happened this week in our local political scene. We are saddened or maybe even shocked to hear that Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin and Tampines GRC Member of Parliament Cheng Li Hui have stepped down from their positions as they were involved in an “inappropriate relationship”.

This was followed by the resignation of Leon Perera and Nicole Seah from the Workers’ Party over their extramarital affair which started after the 2020 General Election but had stopped some time ago.

The focus is naturally on Chuan-Jin because he has always been very open about his Christian faith so our immediate reaction might be, “Why like that? Now the name of Christ is being dragged through the mud!” But think again, Chuan-Jin is no different from any other believers of Christ.

We are all susceptible to temptations; we all fall into sin. Just because he is a politician and a professed Christian doesn’t make him less vulnerable. There is nothing new under the sun. Prominent Christians have been shamed because of scandals. Chuan-Jin is not the first and he will not be the last.

Satan prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for Christians to devour, and perhaps he would place a bigger target on the back of Christians who have a wider influence so that if they do fall, the adverse impact will also be greater.

Jesus says, “Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone.” (John 8:7) Do we dare to cast the first stone? I suspect no one will have the audacity to do so because we too recognise that we are sinners. Should we then even ask, “Why like that?”

If we don’t want to fall prey to the schemes of the devil, let’s earnestly pray that we will be obedient to the Word of God, sensitive to the nudging of the Spirit, willing to surround ourselves with godly people, and humble enough to receive their counsel. 

If we let the love of Jesus satisfy us fully, our desire to please him triumphs over all other desires.  

We tend to define people by their single act of foolishness, which is really unfair.

What about all the good work that Chuan-Jin has done as an MP or as the President of the Singapore National Olympic Council or as a board member of the National Council for Social Services or as a patron of  the Centre for Fathering, to name a few?

His was a dedicated public servant, he had strong leadership, and he was committed to the country’s sports development. All these would have made a lasting impact on the nation.

If we are looking at a big piece of white paper with a black dot on it, our attention is usually drawn to the black dot instead of the overall whiteness of the paper. Unfortunately, we tend to look at someone’s life in the same way. Why do we choose to focus solely on someone’s blunder and negate all the positive contributions he has made?

Let us also refrain from saying more than what has already been reported. Don’t be too quick to make unnecessary comments or worse still, come up with wild theories to fill in the gaps. That’s tantamount to gossiping (having causal conversations about others which involve details that are not verified), and if we are conjecturing, we run the risk of maligning the person.

We are given privy only to what has already been revealed. We don’t know many things, i.e. we don’t have all the facts. Therefore, we should neither jump to conclusion nor add oil to fire.

What we can do is to pray for Chuan-Jin and his family. It’s one thing to discover that your loved one is involved in an inappropriate relationship; it’s quite another to have the whole world come to know about it.

We pray for true repentance; we pray for the affected parties to be willing to extend forgiveness. We pray that his church will come alongside the family to render support and encouragement, assuring them that they will walk this difficult journey with them.

We must believe that the God we worship is the God of second chances. He can redeem the whole situation. As Christians, when we have committed a sin, although we have to face the consequences of our foolish actions, we do not need to fear that once we have taken a wrong bend, we will go down the road of no return.

Think of David the adulterer and murderer; think of Peter the coward and denier; think of Jonah the stubborn and unwilling prophet, and the list goes on, yet God could still fulfil his good purposes in and through them. So it is the same for us when we fail him, even when we fail him big time.

Our Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins and rose again on the third day in order to redeem us and to save us from condemnation and death. Because of what Jesus has done for us, whenever we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1John 1:9)

We pray that God will bring healing to Chuan-Jin, his wife and their two children so that the family will be even stronger coming out of this crisis, and they will be used by the Lord to comfort others with the comfort that they themselves have received from him.

We are all works in progress and God can use even the disasters which we have brought upon ourselves to mould us to become like Jesus – mysterious isn’t it?

Besides Chuan-Jin, let us also pray for the other people – Li Hui, Leon and Nicole and their loved ones. I don’t think the music they face will be any milder. Pray that God too will have mercy on them. Pray for PM Lee that he will also have the wisdom and the strength (he looks rather haggard) to put right what has gone wrong and to lead the country out of the woods.

Instead of judgment, let us exercise compassion. Instead of spreading rumours, let us exercise self-control. Instead of making unfounded assumptions that further tarnishes someone’s name, let us exercise kindness and consideration. We too are sinners saved by grace, and we should constantly pray, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”