Culture

Look no further, our mission first lies in this nation

Charis Tan // August 7, 2019, 6:49 pm

National day story

This question came to mind one ordinary morning: If Jesus was birthed into the world He saved, why do we always hope to be supernaturally parachuted into our mission?

I had been feeling dissatisfied with the shallowness of my understanding of Jesus’ love as I rode the MRT to work that day. I wanted Him to reveal a new facet of His love to me, so I flipped to the start of the Gospels and ran my finger down the page tracing His lineage

And then it sunk into me: Jesus was born.

What a big statement of His love for us. There was no shortcut in His humanity, no compromise in His experience, no acceleration to His seat of glory in Heaven. He was born from an ancestry and into a family and society, just like we were.

The dirty, messy manger: God’s message to humanity

My first thought was how weighty a statement this was about process, namely, the process of engaging those around us. Culture is less likely to be shifted by foreign bodies than by those who organically grow up intertwined with it. You can’t expect to parachute into a culture and be received as anything other than a tourist.

Culture is less likely to be shifted by foreign bodies than by those who organically grow up intertwined with it.

Yes, being missional is our call, but the best missionaries spend long periods assimilating into a culture and loving it from within, not pointing fingers from the outside.

Like Jesus, our mission is, first and foremost, to the ones we grow up alongside. Jesus’ immediate community did not recognise the Saviour because they thought He was just Joseph the Carpenter’s little boy.

Unpacking the basics: Who is Jesus

But Jesus didn’t live by their affirmation. He didn’t need their validation to carry spiritual authority and remarkable influence, to live selflessly and with solid confidence of who He was, and to ultimately rescue the world from sin and death.

Like Jesus, our mission is to the ones who have seen our vulnerabilities and witnessed our growth, who have watched our stories unfold before their eyes, not just heard about it from afar.

Singapore is older than her soil; she existed as a dream in God’s mind, with a purpose to play in the precise times and seasons He destined her for.

Like Jesus, none of us were born in the wrong place or time. God made no mistake when it came to where and when you were birthed.

God made no mistake about where and when Singapore was birthed. This Bicentennial year is a good time to remember that the soil that we stand on was always there, and its context morphed around it, incubating it like a womb.

We remember that Singapore is older than her soil; she existed as a dream in God’s mind, with a purpose to play in the precise times and seasons He destined her for. Before she was a nation, the ebb and flow of peoples in and out of this land were all God-ordained, up till the squalling baby of Singapore in 1965.

Reimagining the Singaporean dream

It is a mystery how God moves when it comes to a nation, and this is beyond political regime, and even time and space. I believe every nation stewards something in the spirit. And Singapore does, too.

This National Day, it’s up to us to press in – and long to discover – what our nation safeguards. Why was she born? Why were we born? Why here? Why now?

If Jesus was birthed into the world He saved, why do we always hope to be supernaturally parachuted into our mission?

Once again, I’m not in any way advocating against overseas missions. Jesus ministry involved moving from town to town and talking to individuals from all walks of life. The Gospel was brought not just to His people, the Jews, but to the Gentiles in Jerusalem, Samaria and the ends of the earth because that’s what He commissioned His disciples to do so. 

I’m just saying there’s a need to look around, re-walk those neighbourhoods we played “catching” in, stand still amid the swirl of familiar languages we grew up with, and ask ourselves those questions of purpose again – why were we born in this nation? – rather than romanticise a future that hasn’t materialised in a place we weren’t birthed into.

Singapore, the place I’ve learnt to call home

It reads in Genesis 2:19 that in the beginning, “the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man (Adam) to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.”

Sometimes I feel like God brings things before His people to see what we will call them. Singapore has had many labels slapped onto her. But how do we see her?

What will we call her?

What will her name be?

THINK + TALK

  1. Why do you think God placed you in this nation?
  2. How has Singapore been important in your growth and life journey?
  3. How can we honour and serve this country in a godly way?