Today's message is from the book of James. It is unfortunate that James 2:17 " Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead." has been used to justify the need to show good works once you are saved as demonstration of the reliality of your faith. Hence, in many churches in Singapore, once you are saved, you are given marching orders to grow quickly as a Christian, to do active evangelism, and be heavily involved in Church ministry. However, looking at the context and the entirety of James 1,2, and 3, a vastly different picture emerges, one that challenges the very authenticity of the Christian faith of the churches in Singapore.
In James 1, after giving the customary introduction, James goes on to ponder on how the Christian Religion can be pure and not corrupted by this world. A major characteristic of such a 'true' religion is that it is demonstrated by a helping hand for people who are outcast of society. We are doers not because we are 'told' to work, or given instruction or encouragement to do so, but out of an understanding of the law of liberty in contrast to the Mosaic law of Judgement..
The above verse tells us that we are not to be forgetful that we were previously under bondage in the Law of Judgement, but our focus should be on the Law of Liberty. In essence, to be an authentic doer, our eyes need to focus continuously on God's grace and mercy. We loved because He first loved us. It is out of the understanding of God's love for us, that we liberally do God's work, not out of compulsion, but out of love. The more we look upon Jesus, His love for us, the more we can be of effective service to God.
We know we practise religion, when we would look down on Societies's outcast such as Gays (James 2:4). We will side with the majority to maintain the laws to persecute them behaving like hypocrites and forgetting that we were sinners under the law. We have forgotten about Jesus, how He was condemed likewise by the moral majority (James 2:7). Our actions are like those under the Law, like those who persecute Jesus rather than behaving like Christians under Grace or under the Law of Liberty.
If one claims that he follows the Law of Moses (summarised by the royal law of loving our neighbour as ourselfs) (James 2:8), but fail to treat the outcats eg Gays wihtout prejudice (James 2:9), we break the entire law itstelf. For under law, it only takes one sin, to have sinned regardless of the quantum due to the perfection that is required. i.e. we are guilty of much more than the crimes we claim that Gays committed. We come under the same curse as the murderer, the idol worshiper, .... Therefore, as the Churches in Singapore claim that they need to follow the Mosaic Law i.e. 10 commandments, they put ourselves under the curse of the law, by default when they judged Gays.
(James 2:13) When we give judgement under the law, we ourselves are judged thus by the same measure, we leave no room for mercy. But mercy triumphs over Judgement just as the Law of Libery triumphs over the law of Judgement because we oursleves are condemend under law, but in Christ Jesus we are redeemed because of God's mercy and Grace which we now so quickly have forgotten.
James 2:14 warns us that if we say we are Christians and have faith in Jesus, is our faith worthy of recognition if we do not have works that is led by God's Grace and Mercy in our lives. James 2:16, said that the Chruch have rejected those who need it most. Our help is but lip service. For example, the Christian Church critised the apparent prosimicuity of Gays, yet not help those who are suffering from AIDS. As the audience were Jewish, James reminded them that even Abraham and Rahab (james 2:21-25), eventually demonstrated works for which was justified as unto faith even under though they were before the dispensation of law proving the supremacy of Grace versus law.
(James 3:1,2) Living as if under the Law, instead of doing works instructed by God, we begain using our tongue as if being the moral teacher of society preaching condemnation. (James 3:9) Instead of using to praise God, we now become the trumpet of curses to others. This is contary to true wisdom which James describes as
When Jesus spoke to the Pharasees in Mat 12:7, He spoke as if to the Christian Churches in Singapore. to the City Harvest, the FCBC, the New Creation, the Trinity Chruch, Calvary Charismatic, .....
The Christian Churches have strongly condemed Gays in Singapore for being guilty for being Gays even though they are guiltless as they are created by God as such.
A young man may be confused and frustrated by homosexual feelings that do not diminish and turn into heterosexual ones but rather grow stronger. He prays, waits and tries to will heterosexual feelings into one's life but they do not appear. He begins to fall in love, not with girls but with male friends. In reaction, He may plunge into relations with women, even proposing marriage, in the hope that sexual feelings for them will emerge but they do not. He goes to Pastor for confession and counselling but still no change. Finally, He comes to the conclusion that one's homosexual orientation is simply something that is a given and cannot basically be changed; that it simply has to be accepted as part of one's self. Does the Church help in any manner? No. On the contrary, it talks evil of Gays bringing so much resentment against Jesus, hence hinders God's message of love and salvation to gays.
Is the Christian Church in Singapore authentic ....... The Gays issue gets them very quickly angered and raged about how 'sinful' the gays are. forgetting meekness as defined as in James 1:19 of listening rather then speaking, of being humble rather than boastful of their moraility before God because they are straight, but in contrary quick to response forgetting that this will result in Judgement and wickednes rather that demonstrating forth the work of the Spirit that of meekness, of which the Gospel of Salavation is based upon.
In summary, God is using the Gay issue as a test case for the church in Singapore whether they actually know the heart of God, whether they preach the law or liberty. The early church never manage to pass this test, and went into the dark ages. Will the Churches of Singapore decline? not in size but in preaching the Gospel which is of God's Grace and Mercy.
"Do not criticise, don't be unkind, but let the love of Jesus fill your heart and mind".
Father God, I thank you for your presence and move in the Singaporen churches for many have received salvation over the last 20 years and I myself have been so blessed by their ministries. I pray O Lord that the Church will not come into your presence bringing what they have done for you. Rather, only bring the Bread and the Wine, to bring Jesus, to remember our Saviour and sacrificial Lamb. For when we are Christ centered and not law centered, we would not judge Gays anymore. I know Lord that you have forgiven the Church for causing so much hurt and damage to Gays and Gay Christians because you see your Christian Church totally white as your bride, you see it through Jesus, your son.
May the Gays and Gay Christians in Singapore be able to forgive the Church, to give Grace and Mercy even when no ounce of Grace nor mercy has been given to them. For at the Cross of Calvary, Jesus gave freely, and willingly though we deserved none of it. Because Jesus gave, we will forgive unconditionally. Whether the Churches will change or not, our part is to love, and to forgive because we want to enter into your presence.