The Joy of Feasting on “Vegetables”?

“Better a small serving of vegetables with love than a fattened calf with hatred” (Proverbs 15:17, NIV).

I had a picnic lunch with my buddy, Su Juan, today. We enjoyed the scenery, the melodic chirpings of the birds flying above us, and the soft and gentle breeze blowing on our faces.

As a full-time pastor, I realise what I eat and drink is important to optimise my health for ministry. What we eat and drink are important for our well-being but our attitudes when we are receiving our food are equally important. We may be having an abundant feast with the finest of food and in the grandest of place, but if we are not thankful for what we have, or if we do not get along with the people we are dining with, we will not enjoy the meal.

The next time we sit down together for a meal with our companions, thank the Lord for them. It may be a simple meal, it may be with your parents, it may be with your closest friends, it may be with your colleagues. It is the companionship that counts. Look them in the eyes. Pay attention to what they are saying. Show that you care. Minister to them.  Enjoy each other’s presence.

Life is short. We should treasure the people in our lives and appreciate them while we still can. Don’t take them for granted.

What is a Christian Community?

While we are in the midst of preparing for the reopening of the preaching centre, the members gathered online for a time of prayer, fun and fellowship. Connecting with one another in unity with Christ is the life blood of the church.The book of Acts talks a lot about the Christian community. Below are some of the lessons we can learn from the early Church:

42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved (Acts 2:42-47).

1.They devoted themselves

Some new believers among the early Christians might not have heard Jesus Himself. The apostles were taught by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself and now they were passing along what Jesus had taught them to these believers. We could sense their hunger for the teachings of the apostles by devoting themselves to learning from the apostles’ teachings.They must have treasured the time together, breaking bread in remembrance of Jesus Christ and gathering together for fellowship as the body of Christ. They also spent time in prayers. They prayed in the Temple daily. They also met in private homes. They were living a vibrant prayerful and community life because they saw the importance of these and devoted themselves to these things.

2.They loved each other deeply

They loved each other so deeply that they were willing to share all that they had with those in need so that the poor among them were taken care of. Chapter 4 tells us:

Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as who owned lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds from what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. There was a Levite, a native from Cyprus, Joseph, to whom the apostles gave the name Barnabas (which means “son of Encouragement”). He sold a field that belonged to him, then brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. (Acts 4:32-37)

These Christians were different from the surrounding society. They understood that possessions and powers were not for the comfort of an individual but that all that they had was meant to be shared and used wisely to bless the broader Christian community.

3.They had an attitude of praising God with glad and sincere hearts

These believers were so in love with God that their responses were to praise God. They opened their hearts to the Lord and were filled with His joy and gladness. Their sincere love for the Lord is something that we should emulate.

4.They enjoyed the favour of all the people

As a community of faith, they must have shone so brightly for the Lord that the people around them were pleased with their behaviour, conduct and speech. May it be that we as Christians do not repel people from knowing Christ, but rather that we will be channels of blessings to others.From this passage, it challenges me to rethink about community: what does that mean? It means, loving others as you love yourself. It means “…in humility consider others better than yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Philippians 2:3-5). Apostle Paul, who wrote Philippians, urged us to learn from the example of Jesus Christ. He was in very nature God but He did not use that as an advantage to Lord it over us. Instead, He came to this world to serve us and died on the Cross for us (Philippians 2:6-8).

Let us have the mindset of Christ and look to the interest of those in our Christian community. May we be blessings to the community and the society.