A Singaporean man recently made the headlines when he was seen in a viral video singing worship songs in the middle of a flight.
A church in Singapore, 3:16 Church, then issued a statement yesterday (19 April) praising the man for his “courage”.
Here is what they said
On Good Friday, we heard from Jonathan that thousands were finding hope in God and coming to faith at the war torn borders of other countries. I see the actions of Jon and the team in the train stations, trains, refugee shelters and planes as an expression of revival.
To see young Christians being unashamed and unapologetic about their faith, witnessing and ministering passionately is an answer to prayer that many have been praying for.
However, these expressions of revival will inevitably transgress boundaries because the Holy Spirit will not be contained in neat categories. Where there are transformed lives, there will be exuberant expressions of love and good works.
Jon’s singing on a plane has drawn criticism from many in Singapore for “imposing” his religious beliefs on others. On secularism, Singapore may have a secular state government, but it is a multi-cultural, multi-religious society. The beauty of this nation is not in the exclusion of religious practices and views but a neutral platform for the free exercise of all cultural diversities which are beautiful and valuable to a thriving culture.
Regardless, people will disagree with Jon’s actions, especially on social media. And in an increasingly anti-christian climate, many (who btw have the right to their opinions) will amplify these narratives. In these last days, the scoffing is not something that Christians should be surprised by. How we respond though, is telling of our love for one another.
In the current culture of consent, what Jon did on the plane is almost unthinkable. It’s noteworthy that Jon was given permission to sing. Also, those on the plane had agency to voice out their disapproval should they not want to tolerate his singing. I’m certain Jon would have responded appropriately and humbly. I’m grateful to hear that many passengers reciprocated the love with claps, tears and smiles.
When it comes to public expressions of our faith, I’m reminded of the apostle Paul’s greatest hits. Amongst his many were the great discourse at the very public Areopagus and his duet with Silas in the quieter prison. Granted that a plane and the prison of Acts 16 are as different as the times we live in, yet the consistency in their courage and conviction remain timeless. To be unashamed of Jesus and the Gospel.
Jon’s public expression of faith is but one way an authentic Christianity can look like. There are many others. To turn the other cheek in private is just as valid as it is bold. The question here is what does it mean to us.
I hear of many judging the wisdom of Jon’s decision. Just a note that fear often masquerades well as wisdom. Caleb and Joshua probably didn’t sound the wisest when they wanted to take the promise land. In the process, they offended a nation who wanted to kill them. The ten other spies sounded wiser. While we are called to critical thinking, I hesitate to gauge the level of wisdom of Jon’s actions. Faith often isn’t measured by the soundness of facts.
I am careful to judge what God is doing in and through our brother. I know of many who have been deeply inspired by His wholehearted faith. I know some will give their lives to the Lord through moments like these.
Instead of commentating on the side lines, I rather stay inspired by his courage. Instead of analysing his life, I rather analyse my own and how his life provokes me to share the gospel, love others and be like Christ.
I pray that all of us will live an authentic faith in every way possible.
In moments like these, Roosevelt’s “The Man in the Arena” always encourages me:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”