“Whether you like it or you don’t like it, you have been born for such a time as this,” began Isaac Ong in his message on Day 3 of PLMC Conference 2022.
Speaking to a congregation of over 1,000, the 34-year-old touched on what it looks like to transform culture and shared four ways to begin doing so.
“The truth of the matter is that God has called us to be part of this world,” Isaac continued.
Turning to Matthew 5:13 (NKJV), he then affirmed that believers are called to be the “salt and light” of this earth and to glorify God.
“Lord, I’m not going to miss the point. God, You’ve put me on this earth – how can I minister? How can I be a blessing?”
Isaac shared that those were some of the questions running through his mind when he began to desire to shape culture and be a blessing to society.
“God, what does it look like with You in the room? What does it look like with You in the situation? What does it look like with You in these times, in culture, in society and business and family?”
The 34-year-old founder of Colours Global then emphasised that all of us have gifts from God that we ought to steward and carry out His will with.
Drawing from the biblical account of Jesus feeding the 5,000, Isaac then shared four ways any Christian can start transforming culture today.
1. Lift up your eyes
Isaac noted that Jesus lifted up His eyes to see the crowd that needed food.
“Open our eyes in our lives to see God,” he encouraged. “Where is the need?”
Isaac urged attendees to examine what is their season and burden on their hearts, and to give God our time, tears and our whole selves.
Isaac pointed out that though Jesus Himself knew what He would do, He wanted to partner with His disciples. It is the same with us.
“The goal is not about solving the issue. The bigger goal and the beauty is partnering with God. And it’s about obedience,” said Isaac.
Isaac then recounted a time when he leaned in to hear God’s heart: “One time, I was worshipping on stage and I prayed: ‘Lord, I love You’.”
Isaac then asked God what was on His heart, and God gave Isaac a six-digit number.
Googling the number, Isaac found that it was an address in Japan. And then he prayed over it.
In time, God sent two people along who gave sums of money to Isaac which fully covered the price of flight tickets.
Going in faith to Japan, Isaac expected to do “great works” there.
But the Lord had simply brought Isaac to Japan to pray.
While Isaac initially struggled to understand why God would send him overseas “just to pray”, he became convicted that prayer ought to be the foundation of his relationship with God.
So he spent the next three days in Japan praying for the country before flying back to Singapore.
What Isaac didn’t know at the time, however, was that the Lord was beginning to put a burden for the nation of Japan in many Singaporean churches’ hearts.
As LoveSingapore started to focus their efforts on Japan, and as believers started to intercede for revival in the country, Isaac realised what God was doing with him on his trip to Japan.
Affirming that God wants to partner with believers for the purposes of His Kingdom, Isaac was amazed that he had a role to play in this move of God simply by “leaning in to hear what is on God’s heart”.
“It’s not about use, it’s about availability,” affirmed Isaac. “It’s not about what I can do. It’s about: ‘Lord, here I am’.”
2. Look at your hands
It is also important to take note of what the Lord has placed into our care, and to consider what we can do with what He has given us.
Isaac warned of the pitfalls of not focusing on what we have — we run the risk of either comparing or being apathetic with our gifts.
“If you’re younger, we tend to compare and look at somebody else’s hands,” he said. “If you spend your life in this deep unhappiness, you’ve missed the point.”
And for the older generation, Isaac explained that they might grow jaded towards using what they have to bless others, and end up leaving the responsibility of furthering the Kingdom to others instead.
To avoid either scenario, we should start at a simple point: Like the boy in the feeding of the 5,000, what are our five loaves and two fishes that we can give to God?
Isaac shared that what is helpful is to not mistakenly assume we are here to solve the problem of changing the world.
Do that, and it becomes very easy to assume one of two things:
- I’m not good enough
- Somebody else can do it
“Only one person can obey your call. That’s you,” said Isaac. “Only one person can follow through — and that’s you.”
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Indeed, we may have different ideas on how to change our world and further God’s Kingdom.
But Isaac believes it’s best to go back to God for the answers: “The solution is not to look to other people, the solution is not to look within.
“The solution is to look to Him!”
3. Surrender and do the work
Isaac’s sharing began to take on a more personal note, as he shared about how obeying God and serving Him will involve struggle and effort.
Opening up about the hardships he faced in the media industry, which he believed was his calling, Isaac highlighted the need to press on and put in the work even though we encounter pushback, if God has called us to something.
Isaac shared that right from when he was 14, he would look for performance opportunities in the media industry like hosting and singing.
From failed audition to failed audition, however, he often felt demoralised and discouraged.
But whenever he wanted to give up, God would send a word that he was not to throw in the towel. And so he pressed on.
What would be considered failure in the world’s eyes, however, often worked out for good as Isaac obeyed God in that season.
At a singing competition that he was ultimately eliminated in, Isaac recalled how he was miraculously called back after performing a moving song in Mandarin Chinese, a language he was weak in.
Though he didn’t win that competition, God’s presence filled the room as he sang. Such precious moments in the competitions Isaac took part in were what enabled him to share the Gospel.
“What is it that the Lord has asked us to surrender?” asked Isaac. “Where does the Lord want you to see the work through?
“Leave aside your excuses — my time, my age, my inability — and surrender and do the work.”
4. Do it all for the glory of God
“… that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16b)
The feeding of the 5,000 brought God glory that day and forevermore. But how about us today?
Whether what we do is “big” or “small”, bringing glory to God — worshipping Him — is what our whole purpose is about, said Isaac.
“Worship is not a means to an end,” he affirmed. “It is the end. Our joy is found in the glorification of who He is and in worship.”
Wrapping up his sharing, Isaac pointed to Ecclesiastes for a simple but clear picture of what we have to do in life: Fear God and keep His commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13, NKJV).
Being held accountable by God renders our lives deeply purposeful, Isaac pointed out. God is the only one we need to seek validation from, and He has already approved of us.
“Christianity is not an alternative lifestyle — believing God is life itself,” Isaac declared. “And everything else is death.”
Today, will we choose to surrender, to love, to follow and to worship God with all we are?
This article was adapted from a message by Isaac Ong 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.
- What does culture mean to you?
- What is your place or role in that view of culture?
- Consider your gifts and talents. How can they be used for God’s Kingdom?