Culture

Does the Singaporean dream breed comfortable Christianity?

by Gabriel Ong // January 11, 2022, 5:21 pm

Sg dream

I was particularly stirred by a message American pastor David Platt shared at Passion 2022 conference earlier in January, where he urged young Christians to avoid a casual Christianity and not to waste their lives.

The 42-year-old founder of evangelism ministry Radical spoke on the urgent need to live out the Great Commission, especially in light of the approximately 3.2 billion people around the world who have yet to hear the Gospel.

“How are you going to spend your life?” Platt pressed. “Based on this picture of God’s Word and this picture in the world, I want to plead with you tonight to refuse to settle for a casual, comfortable, cultural Christianity.

“Be finished and done with a form of Christianity that says, ‘Pray a prayer, go to church, live it up in the world, go to some conferences and coast your way to Heaven. That’s not Christianity because it’s not following Christ,” he warned.

“You will waste your life if you get caught up in this American dream. Don’t do it. Lift your eyes above the distractions.”

THE SINGAPOREAN DREAM

Yes, he was speaking to young adults in the US.

But Platt’s call to avoid a faith that is casual and comfortable must resound in our land too. 

After all, most of us would be familiar with what, in my view, is the typical Singaporean dream:

  1. Good grades
  2. Well-paying job
  3. Nice spouse
  4. Find a home
  5. Drive a car
  6. Have kids
  7. Staycations or overseas travel every now and then

Even coming in at seven points — it’s a pretty “perfect” dream. 

Just to be clear, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with any of those seven things.

There is space to glorify God, obey the Great Commission and serve Him in each of these areas.

If that’s our portion, then that’s our portion.

Platt, however, is probably pointing to a different danger — the temptation to make these nice things our gods.

What brings you joy? One man’s search for more than the 5-minute life

I liked his challenge to the typical dream modern living all too easily traps one in. 

“Let His worldwide plan of ransom rescue dictate everything you think, desire and do,” urged Platt.

“Dictate your plans, dreams, how you’re going to live, what degree you’re going to get and how you’re going to make and spend money for the spread of God’s great love in Jesus among the nations.” 

To me, that was Platt urging us to reconsider our priorities under Jesus’ overarching call to all believers.

What’s that call? To go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything Jesus commanded us.

So, let me try to reorder the typical Singaporean life here…

THE GREATER DREAM

  1. Grades that glorify God
  2. Jobs that honour God
  3. Spouse to serve God together with
  4. Home that brings blessing through hospitality
  5. Car used to serve others 
  6. Kids raised in the fear of the Lord
  7. Local and overseas trips to share the Gospel

See how different it looks? All seven points are still there — still nice — but ordered and directed rightly under Christ’s commission.

In such a light, they would then be tools and not traps in living out the Great Commission. 

Our house, God’s mission: Celebrating Christmas in a home that is not our own

Our grades could point fellow classmates to God’s power. Being excellent in our jobs helps us provide for our family, contribute to the Body of Christ and give generously to the needy. 

Finding the right spouse can amplify kingdom efforts. Our houses can provide hospitality and respite to others. Our cars can ferry people closer to Christ. Our children can please the Lord, eventually taking the torch from us.

Our trips both at home and abroad can come to take on a deeper meaning in service of the Gospel.

GREAT GAIN

What I thought Platt’s message lacked was a focus on just how much there is to be gained when our priorities are reordered rightly.

It’s not doom and gloom. It’s certainly not a call to sell everything away and move to Burundi (though it might well be for some).

Honestly, in real terms, many of us are not even going to be giving up all that much for our faith.

Unlike many of our brothers and sisters-in-Christ elsewhere in the world today, we’ll still have our lives at the end of the day!

Though we will have our own sacrifices to make when we follow God, as we do so we are going to receive such joy from the Lord.

Living in this way opens up His precious promises to us in a very intimate way like divine provision, protection and fellowship.

There is a greater purpose and fuller depth to life we will experience when we live out God’s call for us daily, whether we have more or less than these seven points.

GREAT CITIES

At one point in his message, Platt mused that the US, compared to other places in the world, is possibly where the Gospel is most accessible.  

We’re got a similar situation here in Singapore: We have freedom. We have churches. We have resources. We have people. We’ve got a banging location.

We’re all those things governments say about us on the world stage when they bill us a “hub”.

There’s a reason why we’re spoken of as the Antioch of Asia — to whom much is given, much will be required (Luke 12:48).

How can I discover my personal calling?

What does the Lord require of us and our families?

It’s gonna be specific and general, and there are going to be unique things only we can do

It won’t be easy, but it’ll be rewarding. The prospect of such a life both terrifies and excites me.

But I guess that’s the heart of Platt’s message: a kingdom life has to be something remarkable and not lame — larger than life.

The beauty of Jesus is that, in Him, such a life can be had in the suburban neighbourhoods of California, in the dusty villages of Afghanistan and certainly, in the blessed nation of Singapore.

May God give us the strength to live lives of bold faith for His glory and will.

THINK + TALK 

  1. Have you been tempted to treat your faith casually? Why?
  2. Have you been distracted by pursuing things other than God? What are you building your life around?
  3. What does following Christ mean to you?
  4. Is God calling you to do something specific with your life this year?
About the author

Gabriel Ong

Gabriel isn't a hipster, but he loves his beard and coffee. In his spare time, he'd rather be on a mountain.