REV DR FOREST KOH
I went jogging. The decision to change direction from the same route gave me a new perspective. The view was different, the smell was different, the layout of the route looked different too! This is like now a road never before taken. The route felt longer because everything looked new. Same circuit, same distance, same starting point, but a fresh direction.
Everything was new in my first year at GPC. When I first started, I was full of passion. And after just one year, my heart is heavy, like it got stuck along the way. I need something more to push myself forward. But what is this “something more”?
GPC is a traditional church, we celebrate our 140th anniversary this year. Perhaps, we are so comfortable with what we have accomplished, and it has gotten to a point where some are now contented with the “glory days” and are now unknowingly still living like time has stood still. When the present and future are as challenging as they are now, we tend to reminisce and cling to the past.
Despite these challenges, I thought of the pandemic as a catalyst for change. It was an opportunity to reconsider worship, fellowship, church, and what our relationship with God meant to us. But again, some are unable to move past the glorious yesteryears. They missed worshiping in the sanctuary and the chapel, the breakfast fellowship after service, rushing to Sunday School and Bible classes. Are we yearning for the rush? Is that all we miss? Just the sense of vibrancy and productivity on a Sunday? Rushing through worship, fellowship, and discipleship. Rushing through serving and learning. The rush!
The pandemic has slammed the brakes on our proverbial car. And what have we learned from it? Will we ever learn from it? Or do we just wait for the rush to come back?
I hear the psalmist sings, “My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.” It is the dwelling place of the Lord of Host that we longed for. Where is His dwelling place? Is it the temple in Jerusalem? Is it our sanctuary, our chapel, or even our breakfast table?
Jesus says, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My Word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” (John 14:23, emphasis mine). Our Lord dwells in us, the Triune God makes His home in us, on the basis of a deep and sincere love relationship. Once the Triune God has raised up the dwelling within us, rivers of blessing will flow from our life. (John 4: 13-14).
Paul says, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16, emphasis mine). We are the temple of God, our hearts should be a dwelling place for everything that is good and noble. Our Lord wants to dwell in our hearts, but are we preparing ourselves each day for Him to dwell in?
Peter says, “And you are living stones that God is building into His spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God.” (1 Peter 2:5, NLT, emphasis mine). We are His Spiritual temple, chosen to be His holy priests. Christ is our mediator so that we can offer ourselves to God. Dwell deeply in Christ, just like the vine and the branch. We are His living sacrifice, and we are His spiritual temple.
As we are preparing for the new normal, we come back to this question -- Does the Lord of Host dwell in our hearts? Or does He only dwell in the midst of our Sunday rush? Our hearts should indeed be His most intimate dwelling place, through the blood of Christ. In fact, coming close before our Lord is NOT about the temple, the sanctuary, the chapel or the breakfast table, it is about our heart.
Having said this, I am not against coming back to his physical sanctuary to worship. Jesus came all the way from heaven to live with us in the flesh. Face-to-face worship, fellowship and discipleship should never be replaced. But the essence is still about the heart, heart-to-heart with God and His people.
Same one year ahead, same starting point again. I tried changing my direction, changing my perspective. It is about the heart! What a fresh outlook ahead! I want to regain the drive and passion I had when I first started. My heart is His most intimate dwelling place, and so is yours. Let us be energised by Him each day as we walk closely and dwell deeply in the Lord.