Is the Spirit of the World Entrenched in the Hearts of Many Singaporean Christians?

Most churchgoers prefer sitting in the same spot week after week, and my family is no different.

Invariably, a well-dressed lady in her 40-50s, together with her husband and teenage daughter, take their seats somewhere just in front of us.

Ever so often, while the message is being preached, the lady would whip out her handphone to view photographs of branded handbags.

She seems to study each handbag closely, as I observe her scroll through multiple photographs of each handbag that cover different angles.

Is it a sin for a Christian to own a branded handbag? No, I don’t think so.

But it is clear to me that this lady has a weakness for wordly goods, and the scripture warns us against setting our hearts on these things:

15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:15-17, NIV)

Singapore is a materialistic society. The shopping malls are opened almost every day of the year, and are packed during the weekends. In addition, many Singaporeans enjoy travelling overseas, to places like Bangkok, to shop.

Every weekend, many Singaporeans visit condominium launches, with the intention of buying an additional property to rent out, or to upgrade their homes and live more comfortably.

Many Singaporean seem to be living beyond their means, and according to an article that recently appeared in The Straits Times, Mr Christopher Tan, chief executive of financial advisory firm Providend, was quoted as saying that Singapore is “increasingly becoming a debt-driven society“.

It is easy to get caught up with the spirit of materialism and worldliness in Singapore, and to aspire to keep up with the Joneses (we even have a commonly used term to describe this pattern of behavour — ‘kiasuness’). However, the Lord Jesus Christ has made it clear that we who belong to Him do not belong to the world (John 15:19).

Indeed, would our Lord Jesus Christ say the following to many of us Christians in Singapore?

“You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” (Revelation 3:17; NIV)

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