Volume. XXXVI, No. 47
Sunday, 22 May 2022

Why Worship “In-Person”? (Part 2 - Final)

God’s Design for Community Living

We also see God’s Design for the relational way of living in a community after the Fall. Israel was God’s nation and was supposed to be a model for the nations surrounding her. The Ten Commandments regulates Israel’s relationship with God and with fellow citizens. Many laws in Israel were for major social concerns to protect the weak: the widows, the orphans, the poor, the foreigners (the most fragile in society.) They were also for fair trail and social order, protection of property, and sharing the fruit on the ground, and even welfare for animals. All were given to ensure a thriving community life based on relations with God and with others. Christoph Barth writes, “God wanted the Israelites to join together as individuals, class, and tribes. He did not want them to live apart without deeper relations to one another. Israel was to grow into a living community in which each cared for all as in a family.”5 The Israelites came together on the Day of Atonement. Terry Butler says that “The Day of Atonement was the central atoning rite for the entire nation. As the people created a religious calendar, atonement seemed to be a natural part of a new year’s worship. The Day of Atonement thus became a central feature of the seventh month new year celebrations, which were built around the Feast of Booths or Tabernacles. The Jews established such a feast on a yearly basis to give it regularity and ensure that the sanctuary and people were regularly purified and restored to their holy condition. God could only visit His people when the place of worship, the priests, and the people were pure. The ritual was also the major cleansing and atoning ritual in the Bible.”6 We see here that the centrality of Israel’s life was relationship, both with God and with others. Sadly, Israel also failed in their obedience, and therefore the blessings were taken away from them.


During Jesus’ ministry in the world, the gospel of Matthew 9:36 records that multitudes were weary and scattered, like sheep without shepherd. John MacArthur: “The people’s spiritual needs were even more desperate than the need for physical healing.”7 We know that Israel in the Old Testament was like God’s flock, and the shepherds trusted to care for them were the leaders. But they obviously failed in their duties. (Numbers 27:17; 2 Samuel 5:2; Isaiah 56:11; Jeremiah 10:21.) By the time of Jesus, people were already pretty much neglected in their spiritual needs. The spiritual leaders were ungodly. The relational God was reduced to rigid rules and regulations by the different groups of religious leaders.


Our World Today

The world we live in today is dominated by two ways of life: individualism and consumerism. Individualism teaches us that our individual rights are the most basic rights endowed to us by God. As such, no one can take it away from us. We all want our individual rights to be respected. We have the right to live a self-determined life in a self-dependent society. This sounds good, but it also has the often-realized danger of turning us into selfish individuals. We magnify our alertness to our own wants and needs. Individualism – when practised at a high level – is in contrast with the relational way of life. It is damaging to our health as we are not designed to be living individually. The journal Psychological Science reports that, “The amassed mental health research indicates that social support, social ties and community integration acts to buffer mental illness and improve mental health. Contrariwise, intense individualism can lead to more isolation, more loneliness and more alienation.”8 A Study by Northwestern University in Chicago comparing the level of anxiety and depression level between individualistic society and collective society found a direct correlation between the two. The more individualistic the country, the higher the levels of depression.9


Consumerism captures us in our search for a meaning in life. We “consume” things to try to satisfy the search. Corporations capitalize on this: in 2018, advertisers in the US spent US$163 billion on marketing.10 We see a snowballing effect: the lost world is even more lost due to a search in the wrong place, and corporations reap the financial benefits out of this.


The Way We Should Live as Believers

Fundamentally, as believers we should not let individualism and consumerism be our ways of life because we should not be like the world. We are to be conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29); we are to be changed into His likeness (2 Corinthians 3:8); we are to bear the image of the man of heaven (1 Corinthians 15:49).


Practically, as a body in Christ we should live a relational way of life. Our justification has restored our relationship vertically and, therefore, also horizontally. In Matthew 22:37-39, Jesus teaches us that we “shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”


The Effect of a Relational Way of Living

In Acts 2:40-47 and 4:32-37, we see how the early believers lived a life with a sense of relational community. They had unity of feeling and affection that they treated the whole community as a single household. And this was an effective way of living also in terms of witnessing. Israel’s model of society was supposed to be an example to their neighbors. Israel was like a nursery which was then to grow up to become a tree and bear fruit. Their way of life, their worship and their God were supposed to be heralded to beyond their national border as their testimony of God. While Israel failed in her witnessing, Luke’s accounts of the early church in Acts 2:47 says, “…and the Lord added to the church daily those who are being saved.” A healthy Church community should attract people to church. This verse demonstrates God’s approval to the early believers’ relational way of life in its ultimate sense: that more people were saved by Him.


What about us now? First and foremost, going to church is not an option. It is our way of honouring and keeping the Sabbath holy. Do not get me wrong, if we are unwell, please stay home and worship online. It is just common sense to do so. But if we are able to, there should be no reason for us not to come to church. Sunday Service is the time and place where we could serve God with all the gifts He has given us. Secondly, Sunday Service is a corporate act of worship where the whole church family is there. As such, an “in-person” worship is the most basic, starting step allowing us to live a relational way of living with fellow believers. It is the time and place where we could get to know others deeper. Ultimately, it is the time and place where we fellowship with and have the chance to care for and encourage others, carrying each other’s burden.


By Bro Edy Lok


5 - Barth, C 1991, God With US: A Theological Introduction to the Old Testament, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, pp. 184-185.

6 - Butler, T 2016 “Day of Atonement,” The Lexham Bible Dictionary, Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

7 - MacArthur, J 1997, The MacArthur Study Bible: New King James Version, Nashville: TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., p. 1409.

8 - Whitley, Rob, “Is an Increase Individualism Damaging our Mental Health?” Psychology Today, 28 July 2017.

9 - Aleyne, R 2009 “Britain’s ME Culture Making Us Depressed,” The Telegraph UK, 6 November 2009.

10 - De Luce, Ivan, “10 companies that spent more than $1 billion in ads so you'd buy their products,” Business Insider, 4 October 2019.


Greetings and Thank Yous


Sister Esther Kim (Bandung): Your support for our ministry brings us joy and strength.

Sister Ang Liang for love gifts given (including Batam Appeal): May God bless Hopefuls Congregation.

Rev Sun Sokha (Cambodia): Greetings to you all in the Name of our Risen Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,

We are doing OK by His daily grace and mercies. Praise God for answering our prayers and thank you so much for your true love, prayers with big supports in such a difficult time. We cannot describe our gratitude towards the Lord and your support. Just want to be faithful in His service and hope one day we can help others in time of needs as well.

Your supports mean a lot for our Lord’s ministries, for our family’s living and for our children’s education.

May our Lord bless and watch over you, your family, Hope BP Church Pastor Rev Ki, all Elders and Deacons, all Hopefuls. May He continue to use you all as the channel of blessings to many nations far and near.

With many loves, thanks and regards, Sun Sokha and family

More Lively Hope



  • All ministry & fellowship group leaders: please submit budgets for 2022-2023 financial year to Elder Colin Gan by end of June. Forms available from Session members.
  • Service Roster for July-Sept 2022: Please send your availability by 1 Jun, to hopebpcrosterer@gmail.com.
  • All available Sparkies are requested to help with child-minding during the talks next Lord’s Day after the Fellowship Lunch. Please see Uncle Edy for details.
  • New Basic Bible Knowledge class will start on Sun, 5 Jun. Please register with Dn Kevin Low.
  • Batam Appeal: An amount of $12,827.80 still needed. Please designate offerings with ‘Batam Appeal’.


Praise & Thanksgiving

  • Working Bees
  • God’s daily guidance, providence & protection.
  • Journey mercies – all who have travelled.



  • Comfort in grief
  • Missions: Rev Abraham’s Mission trip to Cambodia; Sis Ang Liang Phoa & family, GAPPI Filadelfia Church, orphanage, kindergarten & primary school (Batam).
  • Healing: Pastor Ki & all others who are unwell.
  • Journey mercies: Rev Tracy & Sis Debbi Minnick (Adl); others who are travelling.



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14 Bedford Square, Colonel Light Gardens, South Australia 5041