“This is one of the greatest miracles that came out of the tapestry of unity.”
Speaking at Paya Lebar Methodist Church (PLMC) Conference 2022, that was how Rev Dominic Yeo began his message on unity, which was centred on the feeding of the 5,000 (Matthew 14:16-21).
What can we learn from this account? It boils down to alignment, and according to Rev Yeo there are three ways to do that.
1. Align ourselves with God’s Word
To Rev Yeo, aligning involves affirming, believing and obeying.
“When the disciples suggested that the people be sent away to get food, Jesus replied: “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”” (Matthew 14:16)
Reading from this verse, Rev Yeo noted that this was a challenging word for the disciples who heard it at the time as well.
But at the end of the day, they submitted to the word of the Lord.
“You can struggle, but you must come to a place where you can affirm that this is the word of the Lord,” he reflected.
“Affirmation comes when we firstly embrace God’s Word in spite of and despite ourselves, our circumstances and our inabilities.
“The affirmation of God’s Word is really taking God at His Word – and God always backs up His Word.”
While affirming God’s Word is the starting point, he shared that we also need to move into believing what God’s Word says.
Rev Yeo recounted the time he tried to get his young daughter into the swimming pool many years back.
He asked his daughter: “Do you believe that when you jump, Daddy will catch you?”
She nodded, but refused to jump. This exchange went on for a few more times before he got frustrated.
“God dropped something to my heart that day,” shared Rev Yeo. “He told me, ‘Dominic, there’s a big difference between I know and I trust.’”
Knowing takes place in the head, Rev Yeo pointed out. But trust happens in the heart.
We might know of God’s greatness and all His statutes, but do we fully trust God?
Lastly, though the word of the Lord to them was tough, the disciples obeyed it – and they found food (Matthew 14:17).
When we embrace the word of the Lord for us, believe in it and act on it, we can be sure that God’s grace will be with us.
“Obedience is really faith in action… The place of obedience is aligning our will to God’s will,” stressed Rev Yeo.
“Because God says it, I’m just gonna do it!”
And that’s how the miracle was done: Everyone was aligned to God’s word.
2. Align ourselves to God’s purpose
The second key is to align ourselves to God’s mandate. He never gives us useless words – behind His words are always His purposes.
Rev Yeo pointed to the fact that Jesus ignored His disciples’ suggestions to send the crowd to the village for food, and instead took responsibility for the peoples’ lives.
Because of that, the people had a revelation of who Christ was!
Rev Yeo’s exhortation then, is to “take responsibility for the people God brings into our lives”.
“Do you know that every connection, every meeting, every friendship, is ordained by God?” he said.
“Do you realise that the people you meet casually are also those whom God brings into your path?
“God has a purpose for you to meet them.”
Whatever we have in our hands – gifts, talents and time – we can give them to God so that His purposes can be realised in the lives of others.
3. Align ourselves with God’s people
Moving on to the importance of coming together for the sake of unity, Rev Yeo shared three reflections on what every believer can do in terms of aligning with one another.
The disciples set the example for us, noted Rev Yeo.
When Jesus said “you give them something to eat”, the disciples did not push the responsibility around. All of them were involved in the miracle.
Rev Yeo emphasised to the congregation that everyone in Christ is called to be salt and light of the world, not just the leaders in the Church.
Collectively, he said, we can be a powerful force for God. But we must first come together in unity, and learn to say “yes”.
Rev Yeo added that aligning ourselves with God’s will is possible for all believers regardless of age or gender.
He pointed out that it was the young boy who offered up his “lunchbox” in the feeding of the 5,000.
Finally, Rev Yeo noted that after Jesus gave thanks, He broke the bread and gave it to His disciples who then gave it to the crowds.
It was the collaboration of the Lord Jesus Christ, the leadership of the disciples and the people who made themselves available as they aligned to the will of God to fulfil His purpose that set the stage for the miracle.
“And that’s a tapestry of unity,” Rev Yeo concluded.
Will we partner with God and with each other?
In closing, Rev Yeo urged the congregation to reflect on which of the three areas they found difficult to do.
- Is it aligning with God’s Word?
- Is it aligning to God’s purposes and will?
- Or is it aligning with one another in the Body of Christ?
As he closed the message, I found myself agreeing, praying that the Church would come together, united in our “yes” to the Lord.
Indeed, may God use us to impact the people around us, our nation and the world!
This article is adapted from a message by Reverend Dominic Yeo on Day 3 of Paya Lebar Methodist Church‘s (PLMC) Conference 2022. Titled Tapestry – Generations Unbroken, the overall theme of the conference was uniting the Church across generations towards a single purpose.
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- Where in your life might there be a misalignment from what God wants for you?
- Practically speaking, what is it going to take for you to align yourself completely with God’s Word and His Church?