|Bishop's Message (Jan 2021)|
“What are the plans and vision God has given you for the Church?”
I was asked this eight years ago when I had been appointed to serve as President of TRAC. I was asked this again last month when I was elected to serve as Bishop of The Methodist Church in Singapore (MCS).
My answer has remained unchanged, and seems to me to be just as relevant and important during this COVID-19 pandemic. So here is essentially the same confession I made in Methodist Message eight years ago. I wrote then that, whilst grand visions and great plans sometimes inspire me, they more often weary and worry me.
Please do not misunderstand—plans are important, and we all can benefit from a passionate injection of enthusiastic motivation.
But sometimes I worry. I worry that we speak too much of great and exciting plans. I worry that we start to believe that great and exciting projects reflect spiritual maturity and Christian faithfulness.
I worry that we begin to think that a church that has no exciting project to unveil for the coming year, or quadrennium, is regarded as a church without life or vision. Christians are inspired by passionate speeches to do great things for God. The Church is urged to think big and do big things for the glory of Christ. I worry that we hear too little of doing small things rather than great things for the glory of Christ.
We need to beware, lest our dynamic call to do “great” things for God is misunderstood as implying that the God of the Bible is seen primarily in “great” things rather than “little” things.
But that isn’t true. Or, to put it more accurately, what the world considers to be great is often completely different from what God regards as “great”. What the world deems “little” may be, in God’s eyes, “great”, and vice versa.
The Apostle Paul understood this well. Concerning the kind of ambition they should have for the sake of the gospel, he wrote to the Church in Thessalonica: “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands … so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders.” (1 Thessalonians 4:11–12)
This is a verse I reflect on at the start of almost every year. I share it with friends at every local church that I have been appointed to. And I share it with myself again this year at the start of 2021. I have no “great” plans or vision for what I want to accomplish in the place that God has appointed for me. I certainly don’t want to be so busy with “great” plans and projects that I don’t have time to do the “little things” properly, like being a loving husband to my wife, an encouraging father to my children, a pastor and friend to all who desire Christian companionship along the journey of life in a world that is often filled with pain and sorrow.
In short, my vision and ambition for this year is to be a bit more like Christ in every area of my life: at home; in the office; at church; or on the golf course. Nothing spectacular, nothing “great”—just the little things that constitute quiet Christian faithfulness. I want to do these “little things” well, for God. I hope that as a Church, we will make that our vision and ambition as well.
Bishop Dr Gordon Wong –was elected Bishop of The Methodist Church in Singapore in 2020.
He served as President of the Trinity Annual Conference from 2013-2020.