21st October 2016
30 years ago on 15 March 1986, the Hotel New World located on Serangoon Road collapsed. The disaster left 33 people dead and investigations revealed that the building had serious design and construction defects. In particular, several of the structural columns or pillars lacked the strength to properly support the building which meant that the catastrophe was inevitable.
The sad story of Hotel New World has a lot of similarity to an illustration that Jesus used: “But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” Matt 7:26-27 (NLT).
The blueprint for building a life that can withstand pressure and storms is designed around some foundational pillars which are made strong by hearing and obeying the words of Jesus. We call it discipleship and it simply means becoming a follower of Christ, someone who does what He says. Jesus has many admirers and enquirers but true followers are identified by those taking His teaching seriously enough to actually put it into practice in their whole lives.
Our church family has completed a Whole Life Inventory which highlights 5 key pillars of discipleship: Faith, Identity, Relationships, Sexuality and Values. The inventory has identified some areas of strength: a majority of the respondents are committed to corporate worship as well as personal worship, prayer and devotions. We also have a number of parents who pray and talk about their faith at home with their children. Walking the talk at home is a big point of strength and we celebrate God’s grace in these areas.
Along with this, we discovered that over half of those who completed the inventory are first generation believers who do not have support for their Christian faith in their families. This is less true for our youth as many have Christian parents so this is a good indicator of change and progress for the younger generation. Our younger believers do need help to be better grounded in God’s Word and most of us struggle to follow God’s instructions to take a Sabbath rest! We need to go deeper in reading, studying and obeying God’s word.
All of the five pillars deal with the fundamentals of discipleship and we were happy to discover that about 25% of our church family are involved in active discipleship and another 53% would like to be discipled. Another 23% are not wanting to pursue discipleship and while there may be some legitimate reasons behind this (more mature leaders don't feel the need to be discipled because they are more focused on serving others) it does raise concerns. Some may feel that they don’t have the time or commitment to pursue discipleship but those who follow this line of thinking should consider what happens when a Christian's life is not properly built upon the rock.
It’s time to roll up our sleeves and fully engage in a commitment to grow as a follower of Jesus. The starting point is as simple as picking up your Bible and determining to make the words of Jesus your daily bread and your daily plan of action.
Let’s get going!
The loftier the building, the deeper must the foundation be laid.
- Thomas á Kempis (1380–1471), German monk, devotional author