Month: May, 2015

How to Make Sense of the Old Testament Today

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War in the South China Sea?

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Is this where China and America draw the line on the sand?

China will not give up claim to Taiwan and Diaoyu Islands. In the case of the Diaoyu Islands, Japan has demonstrated clearly that possession is 9/10th of the law. This is also true of the Spratly Islands. Those who occupy territory have de facto ownership. It is clear China has no intention to relinquish her claim to the Spratly Islands (Nansha Qundao) any more than the other claimants.

In the 19th century, Britain defeated China in the infamous Opium Wars. The result was that China had to accept the shameful British demand to allow the import of opium into China. This great moral evil led to the widespread opium addiction of the Chinese people.

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China is a rising power, and in no mood to be shamed again. It is almost certain China will not back down on the claim to Nansha Qundao, simply because she is now the undisputed regional power, and this is her back yard. America, on the other hand, is the existing power to ensure freedom of passage in the region, and as the only hyper power of the world, has the freedom to roam. China’s claim will limit that right. China has more stake than American over the Nansha Qundao, but China is not ready for any military engagement against America. Will this be America’s pretext to subjugate China like what the British did? Will this be the bait to crush China before China can build up her navy? I don’t know.

But I am concerned about to things: (1) war in the region and (2) the Christian understanding of justice and the Kingdom of God. On the first, I can do nothing, only watch. On the second, I have a calling to fulfill.

Christians have an appalling record of failing our allegiance to Christ when national interests are at stake. British Christians did nothing to stop the Opium Wars. German Christians did nothing to stop Hitler. American Christians did nothing when the United States stole land from Mexico and committed genocide against the American natives. We affirm our loyalty to “God and Country” when in practice, it is “Country and God.” We are much better citizens of our country than we are of the Kingdom of God. That must change.

We affirm “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.” In reality, we “Seek first the Kingdom of Man and its economic advantage, and you will gain security and wealth.”

“Jesus said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight… ’” (John 18:36). That is, the Kingdom of God does not follow the path of violent confrontations we see in the world. It is the kingdom of conversion, not the kingdom of coercion.

Jesus inaugurated God’s kingdom . It is the start of God’s program to redeem the world through his disciples. The Kingdom of God will displace and replace all other kingdoms eventually. But it is not done through wars or political intrigue. It is done through the redemption of the individual—through our citizenship in God’s Kingdom. It is done through making disciples for Jesus. In relation to national politics and wars, we have a calling to live above them.

We are grateful to God for placing us in Singapore. As we celebrate 50 years of nationhood, we remember where we came from and where we are today. As a nation, we have progressed more than any other nation is the world in the last 50 years. But our greatest blessing is that we do not have the dilemma of Christians in other countries who had / have to oppose their national policies because they are evil. That is to say, we don’t have to ask, “Can I go with the national policy of coercive action? Are these actions morally acceptable to me as a disciple of Jesus?” (At least not in warfare).

It is my prayer that Christians in Singapore will not be put to the test in this way. That we will not have to oppose national policies because they are morally wrong. If Singapore Christians continue to advocate peace, never to become the aggressor, and never look for pretenses for war, we will bring blessings on ourselves and all who live in the nation with us.

“And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.” (Jeremiah 29:7) If we will be nationalists, let us be nationalists for peace, and never nationalist for war mongering. If we will not influence our society for right, we will have to oppose our society for its wrongs. It is apparent which is better.

Managing Life’s Stress: Managing Worry

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Connected: In Prayer

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Connected: In Mutuality

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Connected: In Growth

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