SMRT Incidents – 3 Christlike Ways to Respond
The past year must have been an emotional roller-coaster ride for SMRT, Singapore’s main mass rapid transit provider. This is true for both SMRT as well as its commuters. After all, there have been many incidents involving the trains such as this and this. The situation seemed so dire that there were calls for the CEO to resign. And some may be asking the Transport Minister to resign.
It is understandable that these emotions are expressed on the ground. After all, who like to be stuck in the middle of their journey home? Tell me who enjoys squeezing in a growing crowd not knowing what time you will reach home? These sentiments are understandable. In fact, it irritates me too when my train takes more than 5 minutes to arrive.
Nevertheless, how can I respond adequately as a Christian, short of signing myself up with SMRT? As I reflect about it, I felt God prompting me to pen down a few points here.
1. Pray for those working in SMRT
In his first letter to Timothy, the apostle Paul asked Timothy to pray for all people, including those in authority. The end result of this is that they may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness (1 Timothy 2:1-3, NIV). Gordon Fee, a prominent New Testament scholar in Pauline literature, commented that this probably “reflects the activities of the false teachers, who are not only disrupting the church but apparently are also bringing the gospel and the church into disrepute on the outside.” He further mentioned that “the concern here, therefore, is not that Christians should have a life free from trouble or distress but that they should live in such a way that no one will speak evil of the name of God and of our teaching”.
Similarly, facing our immediate circumstances, how we respond to the incidents will reflect how people see Christians. If Christians follow the world and start to condemn the managements of SMRT, then we are no different from the world. As such, why not we try prayer? There are a few things we can pray for:
- The Transport Minister and the ministry, together with LTA, to be able to lead in such situation.
- SMRT to be able to sort out their cultural issues from within.
- The ground staff who are working hard everyday to ensure smooth operations.
- No more breakdowns that will affect commuters.
There are many more prayer points that we can have. But you will notice that these prayers aim to solve the problem. We pray for these so that our lives may be peaceful. We also pray for no breakdowns so that we do not need to be in a situation where we behave in an un-Christlike manner. In these prayers, we also remember those who are innocent.
2. Understand that we are similarly imperfect as the people in SMRT
When we read news about SMRT breakdown, we inadvertently want to point the finger to the leadership. We want to find someone to be the scapegoats for all the incidents. We believe that as a first world nation, such mistakes should not be made. When benchmark ourselves against countries such as Japan, we lament why we are not at their standard yet.
However, Jesus did mention that we will be judged in the same way as we judge (Matthew 7:1-5, NIV). This is not saying that we do not judge SMRT. But we need to know that we are as imperfect as those who made the mistakes at SMRT. After all, who can claim to be blameless and perfect other than Jesus?
How does this then help us to put things in proper perspective? I will say that it makes it easier for us to show grace to those at fault. Grace is a premium in this dog-eat-dog Singapore world. And acts of grace is consistent with a fully lived Christian life. Moreover, Jesus has also shown grace to us who are similarly imperfect and has sinned against him!
3. Have the perspective that God is in control
I think that complaining is a trait of someone who wants control over his life. When we complain, we are saying that we are not contented with what we have. We tell people, through our complaints, that things can be better. The implication generally points towards the thought that if we are in charge, we can do a better job. At the heart of it, we may even be implying that God is not doing a good enough job.
But we do have to understand that God is in control. We must never find ourselves becoming Christian deist, believing that God has washed his hands off this world. This is not the case. God’s providence means that He is still actively guiding the world towards His perfect purpose. What this means to us is that we can continue to remain in peace. We do not need to panic that much when things are not doing well. This is especially so if we find ourselves stuck in the train.
I am not saying that all these are easy. But if we can maintain this perspective, then perhaps we can show the world that Christians do have peace in this world which the world cannot provide. Our source of peace is found in God because He is in control.
Talk is cheap but action is deep. Instead of becoming keyboard warriors, why not show concrete actions as Christians in the midst of all these SMRT incidents? What are your thoughts? What do you think we, as Christians, can do in all these? Comment below and let me know!
 Gordon D. Fee, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011), 63.