Photo by Henry Hustava on Unsplash


On the front page of the website SG-United, were these words by Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat:


We, as a nation, have been fighting the invisible enemy for the past 3 months, the COVID-19 pandemic. The government has encouraged us to stay united.

I would like to take us back to the early church, how the early church faced, not the invisible, but the visible enemy. The early church faced a visible threat in Acts 4. However, the battle we are fighting today is more hidden. We faced an invisible threat, the COVID-19. We cannot see it, but it is lethal.

However, there are lessons we can learn from the early church as we face the threats, whether visible or invisible.

1.     First, a united community (in prayer)

Out of twelve times used in the New Testament, the word “together” (with one accord) was used ten times in the book of Acts. 

“They raised their voices together in prayer to God.” They were united in prayer as they faced the threats together. They were of one mind, one heart, and one passion in prayer to God as the church faced the threats, the crisis together.

2.     A confident community
Fear is real, fear may be irrational, and fear paralyses.

When the early church prayed, they started with this phrase, “O Sovereign Lord.” (24).  They did not start by asking the Lord to take the threats away.  They first acknowledged who God is, “O, Sovereign Lord.”

The early church affirmed the Lord’s sovereignty over all creation. Nothing can hinder God’s plans. God is sovereign over history (Acts 4:25-26). The early church was confident in God’s sovereignty.

God’s church, God’s people stand on this unshakable, firm foundation. The enemy, visible or invisible, may surprise us, but it never surprises God.

We are confident in God’s sovereign rule, in God’s goodness and God’s control over all things.

We are a confident community.

3.     A waiting community (upon God)
(29) Now, Lord, consider their threats.

The early church asked God to “consider” their threats. The word “consider” means “take notice” or “pay attention” to the threats.

Does it mean that God has not paid attention? Does it mean that God was sleeping and did not know the disaster that has come upon the earth? Obviously not.

The prayer indicates our own helplessness, our inadequacies, and the lack of understanding of the matter but acknowledging that God does. It also acknowledges our own feebleness that we need to God to help us to take courage, to be strong. We need wisdom from God to make wise decisions.

4.     A proclaiming community
(29) Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.

The disciples were not oblivious or ignorant of the threats. Yet, they turned to God, seeking God to enable them to speak his word with great boldness. They had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name (Acts 5:41). 

The word “enable” also means to “bestow”, to “grant” His servants boldness to speak the Word.

Words are important.  In a time of crisis, words of comfort and encouragement are particularly important. It is so easy to play the blaming game in a time of crisis, to put the blame on someone or some ethnic groups. The virus of hatred and stigma is just as virulent and destructive as the physical virus itself.

5.     A healing community
(30) Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.

The early church asked God to stretch out His hand to heal. But we also need to remember that this whole narrative started with Peter bringing healing to the one lame beggar in Acts 3.

As a church, we are to be a healing community to bring hope to the community. I have a colleague who is working two days a week as a volunteer doctor among the migrant workers. I pray that we may all do our part.

6.     A spirit-filled community
(31) After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

Note the sequence of events.  After the prayer, the place was shaken up, they were filled with the Spirit, and they spoke the word of God boldly. It is a divine response to prayer. 

In a way, the shaking of the place made them more unshakable as God came in power. The filling of the Spirit made them fearless as they spoke the word of God boldly. We cannot dictate what God should do. However, prayer is indispensable if we are to expect God to bring a revival fire.


[1] https://www.sgunited.gov.sg/


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