Our 19th Anniversary


It has become something of a PCC tradition that the main bulletin article for the first Lord’s Day of July, when we commemorate our church’s anniversary, is based on a biblical passage (or passages) that contains the figure corresponding to the number of years we have existed as a church. And so we arrive at the number 19 this year.

However, a quick glance through those passages that contain this number (or the corresponding “nineteenth”) reveals nothing that is of great significance apart from the fact that Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem in the 19th year of his reign (2 Kgs 25:8ff)! As such, instead of looking at the number 19 by itself, I’ll like us to consider three other numbers that add up to nineteen, i.e. seven, two and ten (or tenth to be more accurate).   

Seven
(Gen 2:2-3)

And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.”

This concept of the Sabbath or the Lord’s Day is as old as creation itself. God, who is the first worker in history, is also the first One to take a rest from His labours. Now we all know that God is omnipotent and thus cannot grow weary from His work. Instead, He rested so as to leave mankind an example and pattern to follow after. But more than that, the ultimate purpose of rest is for fellowship and communion. Why did God rest from His labours? So that He can have communion with us. And why should we rest from our labours each week? So that we can have communion with God!

As members of this church, we have covenanted to keep the Lord’s Day and to regularly attend the worship services. And if we are parents, we have also covenanted to train our children to keep the Lord’s Day. Whatever else keeping the Lord’s Day means to us and to our children, we should never forget (and we should never let our children forget) what the ultimate purpose of the day is, namely, to have fellowship and communion with our Heavenly Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.

As we come to yet another anniversary, let us all take time to reflect on our own personal attitude and approach to the Sabbath Day? What does the day mean to us? And are we truly keeping it according to its main and ultimate purpose, which is to be in the presence of God to hear His voice speaking to us and to respond to that voice in prayer and praise? And how can you (and I) do better in calling the Sabbath a delight?

Two
(Gen 2:23-25, Eph 5:31)

Husbands and wives are two persons who have become one flesh. In Genesis 2:24, Adam said, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” And in Ephesians 5:31, the apostle Paul, echoing the words of Adam, wrote, For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.”

Marriage involves the highest commitment that two human beings can make to each other. This is what the words ‘leaving’ and ‘cleaving’ teach us. To cleave is to be joined or united together. To leave and to cleave means an exclusive and special relationship. Even the relationship between a parent and a child is not as close as the relationship between husband and wife. For a man to leave father and mother means that this new relationship with his wife will have priority over even his relationship with his father and mother. The husband and wife relationship will be the most important one among all other human relationships. Husband and wife are to be totally committed and thus faithful to each other.

Then besides commitment, another important building block in marriage is intimacy. We see this especially in the words “become one flesh” and also in the words “naked and unashamed” (Gen. 2:25). Just as marriage involves the greatest commitment between two persons, so it involves the greatest intimacy and fellowship possible between two human beings. In marriage, you share everything that you have and everything that you are. You become united emotionally, physically, and spiritually. In marriage, you can be naked and unashamed in the fullest sense of the word. You can share your fears and pain and passions and delights without reservation, without being ashamed or afraid of rejection.

As members of the church, we have resolved to seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness in all the relationships of life. If we are married, then our marriage must be the first relationship of life (apart from our relationship to the Lord) that we give attention to and seek to build up.

How has your relationship with your wife or your husband been in recent times? Is it characterized (or should I say still characterized) by a deep commitment one towards another and a loving intimacy one with another? Let us take time as individuals and as couples to prayerfully reflect on our marriages and actively seek to strengthen them in practical ways.     

Tenth
(Gen 14:20b)

The word ‘tithe’ means a tenth part or one part in ten. Genesis 14:20b contains the first reference in the Bible to this concept of giving a tenth of something to someone. Abram gave a tenth of all the spoils of war to the priest-king Melchizedek after he defeated the confederation of kings from Mesopotamia. Later, in Genesis 28:22, Abraham’s grandson Jacob promised to give a tenth of all that he had to the Lord, and subsequently in Israel’s history, the Israelites were instructed to give tithes of their fruits and flock (Lev. 27:30, 32).

As believers living in the New Covenant, it continues to be right and proper for us to tithe (see Matt. 23:23), and as members of this congregation, we have covenanted to give to the Lord’s work as He shall prosper us. It is very easy, though, for us to give, merely out of duty or as a matter of routine.

As such, it would be helpful for all of us, as we come to another anniversary, to review our personal giving of tithes to the Lord, not so much in terms of the amount we give, but more in terms of our attitude and motivation. In particular, I would like us to consider two things with respect to giving.

First, let us give gratefully and cheerfully. Each time we drop our offerings into the bag, let us remember that all that we have and all that we give comes from the Lord, who is the owner of all things in this universe. It is thus a privilege from the Lord to be able to give back to Him something of what He has so graciously and abundantly given to us in the first place. But even more than that, let us remember that God has given us the best gift of all, even His only beloved Son (John 3:16, Rom. 8:32). We can never repay God for all that He has given to us, but we can express a little of our gratitude to Him through our tithes and offerings. And so let us give gratefully and cheerfully for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:7).

Second, let us give thoughtfully and prayerfully. It is easy to just put in our tithes each week without giving much thought to what we are doing or why we are doing it. Each time the offering bag is passed around, let us remember that we are giving to the Lord’s work and for the extension of His kingdom upon this earth. We desire the growth of Christ’s kingdom and one of the ways in which we participate in this growth is through our offerings. And as we give, we should pray that what we and our brethren have given would indeed be used by the Lord to accomplish His good purposes on this earth.     

Conclusion

And so we have briefly considered three numbers that add up to 19, i.e. 7+2+10. May we, as a church, continue to make progress in all these three areas in the coming year and years ahead. May we enjoy greater communion with God each Sabbath Day, strengthen our commitment and intimacy in marriage, and give more gratefully, thoughtfully and prayerfully to the work of the Lord. Have a Blessed 19th Anniversary!

—Linus Chua