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The Power of One Versus The Power of All

Recently, I asked through social media if my friends and acquaintances have done the following activities alone by themselves. The list, according to my own level of difficulty, is: shopping, watching movies, dining in restaurants, sightseeing, taking a plane, and staying in a hotel. As expected, the responses I received were varied. It ranged from a few people confessing that they could only go shopping by themselves, to others who ticked everything off my list.

As we progressed from being a youth and into adulthood, most of us become more independent than our younger selves. I recall in my early 20s, I declared to a friend that I would never go shopping on my own. Little did I know that merely a few years later, I would eat on my words. Many years later, I was given the opportunity at work to attend an overseas conference together with two male colleagues. While discussing on accommodation options and flight timings, we could not reach an agreement. Consequently, three of us stayed at different accommodations and departed from Singapore at different timings.  That was the first time I travelled on the plane and stayed in a hotel room on my own.

Things that have to be done alone

In our Christian walk, each of us is accountable for our faith individually (2 Corinthians 5:10). We cannot “piggyback” our faith through our family members or loved ones. In the secular world, you can send a representative, or delegate certain tasks to someone, but we cannot do the same for our faith. The Bible reminds us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). Albert Barnes in his commentary elaborated that it is our personal interest that is at stake. No one else has, or can have, as much interest in our salvation as we ourselves. We have to consciously build up our faith, become more spiritually matured (1 Peter 2:2), and guide others along the way to Heaven. 

Much of what we need to do to build our faith requires independent effort and is to be conducted alone. Meditating on the Bible is a fairly solitary activity (2 Timothy 2:15). No doubt, if we are blessed with a Christian family, we can gather our family members to study the Bible together. But back to the topic of being independent, we also do not want our younger family members to be too dependent on the matured members to study the Bible. Similarly, praying to God is another task which we have to take ownership of. When we were young, we can “piggyback” on our parents to pray with us, but ultimately, prayer is an avenue where one communicates deeply with God.

But we are not truly alone

Those activities I listed in the first paragraph are just trivial, no matter whether one can do them alone, or with others. If we are too used to doing things on our own and subsequently become over confident or self-centred, we may not be able to accept other people’s style of doing things, thinking that we can do them better. Remember, the Bible says one should not be puffed up (1 Corinthians 13:4; Philippians 2:3). Instead, one should be thankful to God for blessing her with the talent (James 1:17). 

Although we have to build up our faith individually, we cannot be “alone” in the church. I have heard of a Christian who commented that he was being a “good” Christian as long as his relationship with God was right. The only thing that mattered to him was his personal relationship with God. However, we all know that every Christian, no matter how “low profile” he or she is, will cast an influence on others (Matthew 18:6). One cannot be a “lone ranger” Christian. By doing something, by NOT doing something, by being present, by NOT being present, one will be noticed by others.

God says in the Bible that it is good to have company, and that “two are better than one” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12) . Sometimes, people commented that because they are introverts, they do not have friends in church. Nevertheless, we have to be friendly in order to have friends (Proverbs 18:24). We can try to make friends with brethren across age groups, although this may be more difficult for the younger-aged Christians. Christians are also highly encouraged to be physically present in the various church activities besides Sunday worship (Hebrews 10:25), because how can we befriend other church members without spending time with them? 

We are also commanded to build each other up in the faith through the many “one another” verses in the Bible, such as “love one another” (John 13:34-35), “honour one another” (Romans 12:10), “be kind to one another” (Ephesians 4:32) , “comfort one another” (1 Thessalonians 4:18) etc. How can a Christian fulfil the “one another” passages in the bible, except they are friends with each other?

The Bible also illustrates that the church ought to work like a “body,” with each body part playing its own role (Ephesians 4:16, 1 Corinthians 12:12-27). Hence, although everyone makes his or her own effort to be a better Christian, Christians also need to work with one another in the church to achieve greater works. We all know the importance of teamwork and synergy at the workplace, and no major project can be achieved by a person singlehandedly. From the June camp, to the annual Four Seas Lectureship, to the annual Gospel Meeting, and many other church events, we see that brethren work with one another to execute these events and bring glory to God.  

In conclusion, I would exhort all ladies to spend quality time alone building up our faith, and spend quality time with others to support one another’s Christian growth. 

“Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend” (Proverbs 27:17)


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