For the second time in three months, Singapore is opening up again.
In April, we had seemed well on our way towards larger gatherings and possibly leisure travel, but a surge in Covid-19 cases brought all this to a halt and dampened hopes for a return to normalcy. Now, things are looking up at last.
Ever since Covid-19 emerged on the scene last year, businesses—along with our social lives and routines—have had to close, open, and close again in lockstep with case numbers.
Yet, when restrictions were first introduced, I really didn’t mind. As an introverted person, part of me relished the idea of seeing society slow down for a change. With shops, restaurants, and malls closed, the streets became peaceful and—it seemed—my soul had some space to breathe. There was time to rest and reflect. I could finally pick up books I had long wanted to read on top of my university studies.
But the drawbacks of lockdowns soon became evident. The extended periods of time indoors, disrupted routines, and limited social contact led to poor mental health and the erosion of familial ties. Even an introvert like myself found lockdowns tiresome after a while.
That’s when I realised that staying indoors might be good for a time, but we need to go outside as well.
This reminds me of a sentiment expressed by the 16th-century church reformer, Martin Luther. In his search for a good conscience before God, Luther concluded that peace was not to be sought within one’s own heart, but was to be found externally.
In other words, peace can come only through receiving God’s grace—which comes to us from outside ourselves. This peace is not something that comes from within us, or something we can create ourselves.
This idea also made me think about how we can stay spiritually healthy.
Like how a life spent completely indoors is unsustainable, a spirituality based only on internal reflection cannot be healthy. To be sure, looking inwards would help us examine our motivations and attitudes—but it might not reveal all our sins and weaknesses, nor help us sort these out on our own.
Instead, we need to look beyond ourselves. We need to turn to Christ for cleansing and renewal with repentant hearts, relying on Christ rather than on ourselves. No wonder the writer of the book of Hebrews exhorts us to live our lives “with perseverance . . . fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1–2).
What could this mean for us?
One way to help us keep our eyes on Jesus is by going to worship Him in the fellowship and company of brothers and sisters in Christ. The writer to the Hebrews urged hearers to “not [give] up meeting together”, but to “spur one another on towards love and good deeds” (10:24–25).
For the early church, meeting together meant “[devoting] themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42). Let us attend church again—when we can—to meet and know Christ better through Scripture and sacrament.
So, much as few of us would have enjoyed the “open-close-open-close” pattern of the past three months, perhaps it offers a helpful picture of what Christian living could be like.
Sometimes, it may be good for us to go into spiritual “lockdown”, looking inwards to the depths of our hearts and reflecting on our attitudes towards God, as well as our efforts to walk in His ways.
At other times, we need to focus on looking outwards towards Christ, gathering with His people for worship, meeting them to read the Bible together and encourage one another, and encountering Him through Scripture and the fellowship of believers.
As society opens up again, let us never cease to be open to our loving Saviour. Let’s go outside—outside of ourselves to meet Jesus, lifting up our hearts to Him who loves us eternally.
Lord Jesus, eternal Word of the Father,
You have the words of eternal life.
Watch over our coming in and going out
until our hearts find rest in You.