When I first heard about the recent spread of monkeypox around several parts of the world, my first thought was, Oh, no, not again. Not another epidemic.
The latest updates on the disease are worrying: more than 25,000 cases detected around the world, even in countries where the viral infection is not endemic. In the early stage, no cases were reported in Singapore, and I wondered if we’d escape.
The cynical side of me, however, knew that this would not last. Sooner or later, it was inevitable that we would get our first case. After all, in today’s globalised world, everything goes everywhere. Just as we’ve enjoyed imports from around the world, we aren’t impervious to diseases, either. And we don’t have to look too far for a good example.
True enough, a case of monkeypox in Singapore was reported in May, and now, we have at least 15 cases.
Reading such reports, one can’t help but wonder: How can we stop diseases from entering Singapore? The short answer is, unfortunately, that we can’t.
We can’t close our borders and stop people and things from coming in, because Singapore relies on the free flow of talent, manpower, and trade. Without such exchanges, the economy will struggle to grow, and likely shrink. Few countries can afford to cut themselves off from the rest of the world.
The best protection we have, then, is within ourselves. A strong immunity will help us resist new variants and infections. Good medical facilities will help us fight the spread of disease and treat those who are infected. And wisdom will enable us to understand new diseases, so that we know how to respond appropriately and effectively.
Not so different, it would seem, from dealing with false teaching in our churches!
Throughout history, the church has been hit by all kinds of teaching that do not align with Scripture. Some are obviously false while some are more insidious, resembling but twisting the gospel. As 2 Peter 2:1–3 warns us, “There will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies . . . Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute . . . these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories.”
We can’t seal off our spiritual borders, hunker down, and stop relating with the world. Forming closed Christian-only communities, and hoping that the next generation of believers will not be exposed to false teaching, will only make the church irrelevant to the world and prevent us from fulfilling our call to share the good news. Not only that, it will weaken us in the long run.
Instead, we need to strengthen our spiritual immunity. We need wisdom to discern between God’s truth and false teaching, the strength and courage to resist pressure to conform to worldly principles, and the ability to counter it with proper teaching.
As the Bible reminds us, we are to . . .
- . . . be on our guard, so that we will not be carried away by false teachings, and grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:17–18)
- . . . be nourished on the truths of the faith and good teaching, and help others to do the same (1 Timothy 4:6)
. . . have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales (1 Timothy 4:7)
- . . . watch our lives and doctrines closely, and persevere in them (1 Timothy 4:16)
All this can be achieved only through constant reading and steeping ourselves in the Word of God, striving to practise what we learn, and letting the Holy Spirit transform our hearts, minds, and hands, so that everything we think, do, and say will be based on God’s truths.
May God grant us a new passion and hunger for His Word, that we might commit ourselves to it, starting today!