SG51: Now What?

Written by: Lemuel Teo (Photo by: Lemuel Teo)

Sowing seeds of righteousness 

After SG50, we all still have the word “Jubilee” etched in our minds. Who could forget the red, round SG50 logo plastered on every conceivable advertisement space as the nation commemorated our Golden Jubilee with various celebrations and promotions? Within the Singapore Church, many city pastors  preached about the biblical Jubilee — the fiftieth year, following seven cycles of seven years — where property would be returned and redeemed (see Leviticus 25:8–17). Yet at the turn of 2016, which marked the end of the SG50 celebrations, I found myself asking God, “The Jubilee is over, now what?”

One of the things the Lord instructed the Israelites to do was to “sow in the eighth year” (Leviticus 25:22 NKJV). After two years of letting the land lie fallow, they were to work the land by sowing new seeds. Spiritually speaking, I believe that in 2016, whatever we sow into the land of Singapore will determine the crops we will have in the upcoming years. Paul exhorted the Galatians, saying, “A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:7–8 NIV). So as Christians in Singapore, we should be mindful of what is being sown into our nation.

Unfortunately, I found myself woefully disconnected and unaware of Singapore’s true spiritual condition. I was caught up with keeping pace with school work and serving my local church; I did not have much time to read up on local news nor to discern what was happening in the spiritual realm over Singapore. In biblical times, God did not allow the Israelites to live in a bubble of ignorance. If a murder occurred and the murderer was unknown, the nearest city was responsible for the murdered person’s blood. They had to offer a blood sacrifice to atone for the murder and to be purged of the guilt of shedding innocent blood. (See Deuteronomy 21.) Likewise, for us today, I am learning that we all have a responsibility over what is happening in Singapore.

In decrying the tragic death of two-year-old Daniel, who was abused to death by his own mother, MSF Minister Tan Chuan-Jin said that it was everyone’s responsibility to sound the alarm. Yet a neighbour was quoted as saying, “Once I come home, I close my door and mind my own business. Why should I care? If we care, people say we ‘kaypoh’ and might even scold us.” While this neighbour’s remarks might seem deplorable, I wondered if I would do any different. The proclivity to keep to oneself inadvertently also isolates us from society.

“Whoever sows injustice reaps calamity…but he who sows righteousness will have a sure reward, as righteousness leads to life” (Proverbs 22:8, 14:34 NIV). As an individual, whether we sow injustice or righteousness in our daily actions will determine if we will reap calamity or life! This principle can be extended to a country as Proverbs 14:34 (NIV) says, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people.” As Christians in Singapore, we need to sow righteousness into our land. To be righteous is to be in right relationship with God and man. The best way to sow righteousness, in my opinion, is through the position of intercession, where we “stand in the gap before (God) on behalf of the land” (Ezekiel 22:30 NKJV). If we were to humble ourselves, pray and seek His face, and repent of our sins, God promises to hear our prayers, forgive our sin, and heal our land (2 Chronicles 7:14).

I am on a personal journey of learning what it means to sow seeds of righteousness into the land of Singapore. It is not without its challenges; at times, the idea of sowing righteousness seems vague and the fruits of the sowing seem to be distant. How should I pray for righteousness to be sowed in Singapore? How would I know if my prayers really matter? At other times, I find myself so disengaged with society at large that I don’t even know what the social concerns are. However, on my journey of discovering what it means to sow seeds to righteousness in our land, I’ve learnt a few lessons:

1. Stay connected with our world

As simple as it sounds, reading the newspapers has helped me be more connected to what is going on in Singapore. (I guess our English/GP teachers were right after all.) For some time, my current affairs diet was fed by my Facebook feed alone — this I found terribly inadequate. Now, I am beginning to enjoy reading commentaries on our society and on youth culture.

On top of that, I think it’s important to have a human connection with those whom we interact with every day — whether it’s making small talk with a neighbour, thanking the bus uncle when alighting, or even taking time to talk deeply with a colleague.

Staying connected with our world helps us to be mindful of what is being sown into the spiritual soil of Singapore.

2. Be conscious of unrighteousness

I used to read the news purely for information. But I am learning to read it “with my heart” and allow the Holy Spirit to highlight the unrighteousness in society that I should be affected by. Our God is one who is intimately concerned about everything that happens on Earth. He hears the cry of both the wicked and the oppressed (Genesis 18:20; Exodus 2:23–24). Similarly, we should be stirred when we read about a case of child abuse or when a family friend is going through a divorce.

However, busyness can cause the heart to be calloused. Being constantly caught up with my own frantic life can cause me to gloss over the unrighteousness I come across. It is essential to remain soft-hearted in our interactions with people. Also, when we slow down enough to compare God’s Word with the current situation around us, the Holy Spirit will call to attention the things we should be affected by.

3. Sow in prayer

For me, one of the biggest hurdles in starting to pray is in believing that my prayers carry weight. However, I am learning that the place of intercession is the nexus between the heart of God and the condition of the world. Through intercession, God is inviting us to seek His face and to know His heart, and then to align ourselves in agreement with His will for the world around us. We can sow seeds of righteousness by praying the Word of God into the situations around us. For example, in praying for Singapore, I’ve used Isaiah 61:11 (NIV): “For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.” I prayed that God will cause Singapore to be a beacon of righteousness and praise among our neighbouring countries.

The theme for this year’s National Day Parade is “Building our Singapore of tomorrow.” What is your vision of our “tomorrow”? As Christians, we are called to be “oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendour” (Isaiah 61:4 NIV). Imagine if we were to value and uphold righteousness in all our dealings, on every mountain of society — arts and entertainment, business, education, family, government, media, and religion. These seeds of righteousness that we plant through our prayers into the spiritual soil of Singapore in SG51 will cause these mountains to bloom with righteousness, lush and teeming with abundant life.

LEMUEL loves Hainanese chicken rice, especially the roasted variety. Cycling along the eastern coast of Singapore while watching the sun set rejuvenates his soul. He is dedicated to restoring and building lives to be Godly pillars of strength in their communities. Follow him @lemuelteo.


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