1 There is time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 to 8
Most people do not like changes, especially changes that will upset their comfortable routine and relationships. In the 40 years since I came to PSPC in 1973, I had not seen nor expected to see significant changes from year to year. When Rev. Darryl unveiled the PSPC Disciplemaking Roadmap recently, I was reminded of the above passages in Ecclesiastes Chapter 3, that there is time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens. Is 2014 a time for change in PSPC? How should I react personally to the changes and challenges of this Roadmap?
Let me share my thoughts from the above verses of Ecclesiastes 3.
V2. A time to be born and a time to die applies to everyone - physically. Spiritually we are called to be born again by believing that Jesus is Christ and to die to our sinful self to live a victorious and abundant life. A time to plant and a time to uproot mark the changing seasons of trees, flowers and grass and the time they must be uprooted when old or withered. In the same way, Biblical teachings, truths and values must be planted in all seasons of our lives. What about the world views, values and practices that creep into lives? Can they be similarly uprooted for spiritual renewal?
V3. A time to kill and a time to heal remind me of that old enemy in us, - “pride”. It must be killed to make way for repentance and reconciliation so that there is healing from hurts, grudges and animosities. A time to tear down and a time to build may not apply to our physical church building. But for PSPC members the walls of prejudices, resistance to change and cynicism need to be torn down before we can build up one another to mature in Christ.
V4. A time to weep and a time to laugh describe the process of true spiritual repentance. Until we can weep over the dreadfulness of our sin against God we will not appreciate the sweetness of God’s mercy so as to laugh at our past folly of rebellion. A time to mourn and a time to dance. It is inappropriate to mourn at weddings and dance at funerals. It is also inappropriate to dance at our enemy’s misfortune because even our enemies are created in the image of God. We should not mourn over our misfortune because we believe that in all things God works for good of those who love Him, who had been called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)
V5. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them. In the context of Biblical geography and times stones were plenty everywhere. Stones were scattered in fallow fields to prevent undue disturbance. Stones were then gathered to form protective fences to surround crops and flocks. Similarly, in our Diciplemaking Roadmap when a particular ministry is not ready it should be guarded from undesirable sceptics and intruders. When crops and flocks are raised, we should gather round to support and protect like strong stone fences. A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing. There is a time to embrace fellow Christians who are selfless, earnest and humble in their services. And there is a time when we must refrain from embracing or glossing over inconsideration, selfishness and dishonesty that stumble fellow Christians, cause disunity and hurt the body of Christ.
V6. A time to search and a time to give up. Our experience in the search for a Senior Minister was a ground breaking lesson to us. I believe that there is a purpose in the pain generated in the process and the unexpected outcome. Is this the evidence of God’s sovereignty and our acknowledgement that everything He does will endure forever, so that we will fear Him? (Ecclesiastes 3:14) A time to keep and a time to throw away has never been as real to me in my life as now when we are moving house. Things the family accumulated over 30 years have become a problem and a burden. Making the decision on what to keep and what to throw away is difficult because of their sentimental attachment. This experience has taught both of us an invaluable lesson, not to be burdened by things and not to cling on to things that have no eternal value. Are there any old baggage we treasure that might weigh us down in our Christian walk?
V7. A time to tear and a time to mend. There is a time to be transparent, to tear away the mask that conceal our true character, and be prepared to be vulnerable as advocated by Greg Ogden in his book on Discipleship Essentials. There is also a time to mend our fears and our waywardness, so as to be mutually accountable to one another, for we are our brothers’ keepers. A time to be silent and a time to speak. Once at a lunch in a restaurant, I observed a man audibly lecturing a young couple for a solid hour as if he knew everything under the sun. It was a most unpleasant sight because the man was oblivious to his overgrown ego and obviously enjoy listening to himself. We all need God’s wisdom to know the time to be silent and listen to others and a time to speak up.
V8. A time to love and a time to hate. We love people even though they may not be lovable because God loves us. But we cannot love the wrong and hateful things they do or say. Neither should we compromise or remain indifferent. Otherwise we are choosing not to know the difference between right and wrong, and be like salt that loses its saltiness. A time for war and a time for peace. The popular military strategy that “If you want peace prepare for war” applies also to the spiritual warfare within ourselves and the spiritual warfare against the devil’s schemes from without. The peace of God comes to us only when we are strong in the Lord by putting on the full armour of God just as Paul prescribes in Ephesians 6:10-18.
May 2014 be a real challenging time for us to prepare our hearts for changes in PSPC as laid out in the Disciplemaking Roadmap.