Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Christian Perspective On The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

The global community was rudely shocked by the stark reality of jihad on 11th September 2001 when hijacked planes crashed into iconic buildings that symbolize American economic and military power. In response to the specter of religiously-inspired violence, the subsequent ‘war on terror’ would loom large over the early years of the 21st century.

At the center of this worldwide unrest is the long-standing Palestine-Israeli conflict that continues to be a source of its political and religious impetus. Orthodox Jews honor Jerusalem as the city of peace that once housed the temple of Yahweh. Christians make pilgrimage to the Promised Land where Jesus Christ once lived, was crucified and resurrected. Muslims treasure the city as the third holiest site in Islamic history. With the establishment of the modern state of Israel in 1949, many adherents from these three major faiths have staked a claim in supporting or opposing it in the name of God or Allah.

However, the idea of ‘holy war’ is not unique to Islam. In the book of Joshua, a scriptural text embraced by both Jews and Christians, we would find the concept of Yahweh as a warrior waging battle against Canaanite deities and nations through His covenant people Israel in the conquest of the Promised Land. In some military campaigns, the Israelites were divinely decreed to utterly destroy an entire population of men, women and children (Joshua 6:18-19).

This raises difficult moral dilemma for sensitive believers as well as concerns that such warfare narratives may be used to justify violence and genocide today.

In this paper I would attempt to answer three questions: “What is Old Testament teaching and justification for ‘Yahweh war’ in the conquest of Canaan? How should Christians perceive the continuity and discontinuity of these Old Testament concepts in light of New Testament revelation of Jesus Christ? Finally, what are the resulting theological implications for how we understand the establishment of the modern state of Israel?”

Yahweh War and Modern Israel

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Day God Showed Up On Earth

Preached a pre-Christmas evangelistic sermon today based on the themes from Tim Keller's sermon The Purpose of Christmas. Audio sermon can be downloaded here

Text: 1 John 1:1–4
Topic: Incarnation
Big Idea: Because the Word became flesh, we have a joy that transforms our lives.

This is what Scripture says: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.”

Introduction: Good morning, church and friends! Christmas is just 4 days away. Are you feeling the holiday mood yet?

I know for many people, this is the season to be jolly. It's a time to celebrate, sing carols, throw parties, receive presents and lots of merry making. As we wrap up the year 2008, it’s also a time to relax, go on a holiday with family and have some well-deserved fun. And yes, sales promotions are everywhere. It’s a mad rush to shop till we drop.

Or if you are in the retail business or have sales target to achieve, Christmas is the season to be busy. It’s a crazy time to close deals, meet datelines and lots of profit making. For Christians, we may be just so stressed up with many church programs and activities, endless rehearsals and singing practices.

But for others, Christmas is the season to be depressed. Psychologists have found that many people experience a sad and anxious mood during and after Christmas. Statistics for suicide also increase. The reason goes something like this: “Everyone is supposed to be happy and be with their family during the holidays - since I am not, there must be something wrong with me”. This ‘holiday blues’ is most keenly felt if we are separated from loved ones. The loneliness, tiredness and isolation become more intense when there is pressure to look happy at parties or gatherings. The contrast can be very depressing.

But if we are not feeling Christmassy yet, that's ok. Because Christmas is not about Christmas. It’s not about sales promotion, Santa Claus or all that jazz. Christmas is all about Christ. That God has not left us alone. He showed up on planet earth to rescue us. The baby born on that first Christmas night two thousand years ago was called Immanuel, God with us. His presence is with us even now whether we feel Him or not.

And the scripture passage today taken from 1st Letter of John tells us what Christmas is all about. It says something radical about God and how Christmas can transform our lives whether we feel happy, busy or sad today.

Firstly, Christmas tells us something radical about God.

If you understand the word incarnation, you'll understand what Christmas is about. And the meaning of incarnation is nicely captured in the song we sang just now “Hark the Herald angels sing!” The second stanza goes like this:

Christ by highest heaven adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin's womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel (meaning, God with us)
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Incarnation simply means that God took on flesh and blood and showed up on planet earth as a human being. Amazingly, He decided to come as a helpless baby born of a virgin girl. He did not come as some sort of violent, conquering warrior.

In the Bible passage we read just now, the apostle John tells us that Jesus the Son of God has appeared to us. He is the Word of life who was “from the beginning”. That means: He existed long before the heavens and the earth were even created.
People have always wondered about the universe that we live in. Sue May told me a story about her friend who never had much interest in God and one day she went scuba diving and so amazed to see a whole new world underwater so beautiful that by the time, she came up from the water, she believed in God.

I wonder if you too have ever looked up to a starry sky and feel a sense of cosmic wonder: “How come we exist in this universe? Why is there something rather than nothing? Where do we come from?” Suppose that in the beginning there was nothing. If there was absolutely nothing at the start, there won’t be anything now. Because out of nothing, nothing comes. No cause, no effect.

But something does exist today and not only that, if we look around us, everything that we observe has a beginning and was caused to exist by something else. For example, I have a beginning and my existence was caused by my parents, and my parents came to exist because of my grandparents, and if you rewind all the way back, even the universe has a beginning. Scientists called it the big bang. But what caused the big bang? Who is the big banger?

There must be something or someone that has always existed from the very beginning. In ancient times, the Greeks called that eternal force that holds the universe together Logos. The Logos (translated as the word) gives life to human beings. The Chinese also have a similar idea in the Tao that brings harmony to opposite forces of ‘yin’ and ‘yang’.

So when the apostle John spoke of the “Word of life”, the people understood what he was talking about. He’s talking about the Logos that made all things to exist, brings order to chaos. The Logos has always existed, it is eternal, uncreated since the very beginning of time…

But then John went on to say something radical that they never thought of: “Guess what? This Logos is not something abstract or a philosophical system. It’s not even an impersonal force that you can manipulate by hiring a fengshui master.”
The Logos is a person. He is someone who knows, makes choices and can communicate with us. He is relational. From the Gospel of John, we read: “In the beginning was the Logos, the Logos was with God and the Logos was God. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men.… The Logos became flesh and dwell among us.”

That’s what Christmas is about. The God who is from eternity stepped into time. He took on flesh and blood and moved into our neighborhood. The invisible has become visible, the spiritual has become physical. The ideal has become reality. In other words, God has become human without losing His divine nature. It’s a profound mystery -Jesus is not just fully man, He is fully God.

To appreciate just how radical this is, we can compare it with what other religions tell us about God. On one hand, in Islam/Judaism, God is so high above the creation, so transcendent that incarnation is impossible. It’s scandalous to think that God could take on human nature. On the other hand, in some Eastern religions like Hinduism/Buddhism, God is so close to the world, so immanent that reincarnation is normal. It happens to everyone. Everybody has a divine spark in us. So not all religions are the same…

Listen to these words from Tim Keller: But Christianity is unique. It doesn't say incarnation is normal, but it doesn't say it's impossible. It says God is so immanent (near us) that it is possible, but he is so transcendent (high above us) that the Incarnation of God in the person of Jesus Christ is an earth-shaking, history-changing, life-transforming, paradigm-shattering event. Christianity has a unique view on this that sets it apart from everything else.

So who is Jesus? He’s a teacher but not just a good teacher. He’s a prophet but not just a human prophet. He’s so much more. He is the transcendent God who became incarnate. He’s not a far away God. He is God with us.

Secondly, not only does Christmas tell us something radical about God, it also tells us something historical about Him. The story of Jesus actually happened in space and time. On earth. In Israel. Two thousand years ago.

Unlike the wonderful stories we find in the Hikayat Ramayana, for example, it is not meant to be read as a myth. They cannot be just wonderful fairy tales that teach us moral lessons.

Imagine if I were to say to you that my late Grandmother appeared to me in a dream last night and gave me the recipe for a magic soup that gives eternal youth. And I can sell it to you for a thousand ringgit each. Could you examine this dream to see it’s true or false? You can’t because you have no access to my dream.

But imagine again if I were to say to you that she appeared to me at the Sunway Pyramid skating rink at 12 p.m. yesterday in front of more than one hundred shoppers and ice-skaters who can confirm this event… ah ha… now that’s different… that is an open public event … it’s something you can investigate, you can check out the facts, interview the witnesses and so on… it’s something historical you can verify…

The apostle John says: We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard. We saw His miracles. We heard His teachings. With our very own eyes. With our own ears. Our hands have touched Him, this person who is Eternal Life. This Jesus of Nazareth.

So these records of Jesus were written based on eyewitness accounts, people who have seen and heard Jesus while He was still on earth.

If the resurrection of Jesus was made up, it would be easily shot down by hundreds of eyewitnesses in Jerusalem who saw him crucified and buried. His enemies would be just too happy to show off his tomb and the story will die off very quickly. But the eyewitnesses did not contradict the empty tomb. Instead, people were invited to check out the facts with about five hundred witnesses who saw Jesus appeared after His resurrection from the grave.

The point of Christmas is that Jesus really lived, and he really died. It happened in space and time. He did these things in public. It is open to public examination and invites us to investigate its claims.

But you may wonder: What’s the big deal about something that happened so long ago? I live a good and moral life. That’s most important anyway, right? It doesn’t matter what happened in history. I don’t steal or murder, God will surely accept me.

But that’s salvation by good works. Trying to impress God by how good we are and then God owes us a ticket to heaven.

The bad news is you and I are both separated from God and God is so holy that there has to be punishment for our sins. In our deepest heart, if we look at ourselves in the mirror honestly, we know that we are simply not good enough judging by our own standard, not to mention God’s holy standards.

Suppose you are driving your car to work or school one day and you ran the traffic lights and got caught by the police. You cannot say: “Tolong-lah Encik, don’t give me the saman. Just now, got nine traffic lights, I also follow the rules. I only ran one out of ten traffic lights lah...”

If this excuse can’t help us with the local police, it cannot help us on Judgment Day to say “God, I know I have committed many sins but look at so many good things I have done also.”

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.” (1 John1:8)

Why did Jesus the son of God come to earth? The good news is not that He came to tell us: “Try harder, live a good life and then earn a ticket to heaven.”

The good news of Christmas is that Jesus Christ came to earth, lived the perfect life we should have lived, and died on the cross to pay for our sins (He took the death that we deserved). So when we turn away from our sin and trust in him and what he has done for us, we are accepted freely by God. We are rescued by grace alone. That’s why He came: To save us from our sins.

If these things didn't really happen in history 2000 years ago, then we can't be forgiven by grace. And we are still carrying the crushing burden of condemnation and sin on our shoulders.

But the good news is God incarnate did come and lived and died for us. The witnesses heard him, saw him, touched him and proclaimed him. Because it happened in history, we have hope, forgiveness and acceptance from God.

Do you know Jesus as your Lord and as your Savior? Would you trust in what He has done for you today?

Full audio sermon can be downloaded here.

Thirdly, because Christmas is radical and historical, it invites us to a personal relationship with God.

If you see who Jesus is and why He came to earth, God became flesh and lived the life you should have lived, died the death you should have died — then Christmas invites you to know God personally. That means we can have a friendship, fellowship, an intimate communion with God himself. We become truly free and truly ourselves in the context of a love relationship.

The apostle John says, "Our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son." This word fellowship, which is koinonia, means that we now have a basis to be reconciled with God.

He is no longer vague or far away in heaven. He has shown Himself to us. So we don’t need to guess what God is like and what He wants from us, He has come personally to tell us. Now He has a human face.

And if some of us here are spiritually seeking and you want to know what it means to be a Christian: Well, it means you come into a relationship where you acknowledge God as the Father, who loves and cares for you as a father cares for a child. You call God “Father”. And you receive Jesus the ultimate expression of God’s saving love, as your Lord and Savior. And the Holy Spirit lives in you and gives you the power to know and follow Him. Then through baptism you express this immersion into a love relationship with God.

So Christmas is an invitation by God to say: “Look how far I've come to be near you. Now draw near to me. I don't want to be a concept; I want to be a friend.”

Lastly, Christmas invites you to be passionately incarnational.

If we know Jesus personally as our Lord and Savior, we have the hope of eternal life beyond the grave. God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

But when many people think of eternal life, they think of cartoons of people floating around in fluffy clouds, wearing white gowns with a harp in their hand and a halo on their head. So the idea is to escape from this physical world, and treat life on earth here and now as a temporary transit point to heaven. But the danger of that is we can be so heavenly that we are of no earthly good. It creates a mentality where we withdraw from life and focus only on the afterlife.

We see the poor oppressed and the environment destroyed and we shrug, “Oh well, this world’s gonna burn anyway so I just wait for my time to go to heaven.” No wonder many people see religion as a drug that makes us insensitive to pain and oppression happening around the world.

But the Christian hope of eternal life is not like that. It is not about running away from reality. The future of the gospel is a new heaven and a new earth. This world will be renewed, not abandoned. The hope of Christians is the resurrection, where we will be raised to eternal life in an incorruptible glorified physical body. Because God himself took on physical flesh and blood and invaded this planet, we long to see the presence of God's kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Because the rightful king of the world had entered human history. All unjust rulers are at risk. Dictators like king Herod, Roman Caesar, Satan, Sin, Death, Injustice, Pain, Disease, Hatred - their days are numbered. The worst they can do is give death but even death is conquered by the resurrection.

The King had come. The kingdom of God had broken into history, bringing healing and hope, peace and life. Christmas marks the beginning of God's mission to recapture the world for Himself.

So as His followers, we are also invited to imitate Christ be living incarnational lives. We also enter into other people’s worlds, as he entered ours. We seek first to understand then be understood. We enter into the world of their thinking as we try to understand how others look at life and how they see the gospel. We come into the world of their feeling as we try to empathise with their pain. And we come into the world of their living as we live, embody and demonstrate the gospel in the orang asli village, at the low cost apartments at Angsana and Mentari.

In conclusion, Christmas tells us something radical and historical about God – he has come to earth and revealed himself supremely in the person of Jesus the Messiah. Because of who Jesus is and what He has done for us, Christmas invites us to love God personally with all our heart, mind and strength. It also frees us to get involved in the lives of other people by embodying God’s kingdom on earth.

If the present creation will not be abandoned but transformed, then in the meantime, we are to work here-and-now looking forward to that final vision. So that our community and church could be a foretaste, a glimpse or movie preview of its future glory. Incarnational spirituality is lived out in down to earth realities, where we do business, how we cook in the kitchen, when we play with our children, study, love and do exercise, infusing everyday life with fresh authentic meaning. The gospel must be embodied with our lives and proclaimed with our words.

Think about that the next time someone wished you "merry Christmas" this year!

Loving God With All Our Mind

Mark 12:28-34 (sermon audio download available here)

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?" "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'31The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."

"Well said, teacher," the man replied. "You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices." When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.

Have you ever wondered what happened to the dinosaurs? How did those giant lizards become extinct? And did the Bible ever mention anything about them? Have you ever asked these questions before? I suspect quite a number of you have.

I came to know Christ as a 15 year old student in secondary school. That’s not too long ago. As a curious new believer, I began asking how the Genesis account of creation in seven days explains those interesting dinosaurs you’d find watching Jurassic Park or National Geographic. So hoping to get some answers, one fine day I picked up the courage to ask my science teacher who is also a Christian. I asked him: “Why did God create dinosaurs and let all of them die, ah? Were the dinosaurs safe inside Noah’s ark? Did the flood drown all of them?” He gave me “one kind” of look and then asked me another question in return. He said: “Tell me. Does God answer your prayers?”

I was a bit shocked at first. “Er… Don’t blame me la… I didn’t pray for the dinosaur’s extinction ok!” Maybe he sensed that I was confused, so he went on, “Aiya… If God has answered your prayers, why do you need to ask so many things?” So if you have an experience that God is real in your heart, why bother thinking so much?

From that day on, I found out that for many Christians an intellectual understanding of what we believe and why you believe is not important as long as you have an experiential feeling in your heart! The heart is what you used in a relationship with God but the brain is what you used while studying science, computers, economics and history in school. There is a separation of the heart for spiritual stuffs and the mind for secular stuffs like dinosaurs. When that happens, no wonder our faith has so little impact on how we do our work or studies in the world. And no wonder our ‘daily activities’ outside the church has very little to do with God or the gospel.

But the Bible seems to say: “Do not be conformed to the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renewal of your minds”. It doesn’t say “Be transformed by the removal of your minds”! So we don’t need to remove our brains in order to be a Christian. In fact, renewing our mind with God’s truth and kingdom values is crucial to our spiritual growth. Last month, I was working in Vietnam and met an American lady on a tour bus who works for a research program, trying to find a cure for cancer. As we talked, she told me that she envies her Christian friends for their faith. She says “It’s so easy for them but it’s hard for me to believe because as a scientist, I’ve been trained to think critically and ask questions first”. So I encouraged her, “Sometimes people ask questions not because of unbelief, but because they are serious about the truth”. Then I recommended her a book by a famous Christian scientist and hope it’s helpful to her.

To a lot of people, when you wish something is true but suspect that it actually doesn’t exist you need faith. And when you know for sure that something isn’t true and you still believe in it, then you must have very great faith indeed. But biblical faith is not like that. True faith involves knowledge, agreement and trust. For example, I can examine that this is a chair, it has four legs. That’s knowledge of the facts. But knowing alone is not enough, I must agree that yes, this chair is strong enough to support my weight. But knowing and agreeing alone won’t do me any good unless I put a personal commitment to rest my weight on that chair. So faith has both objective facts as well as personal trust.

In the passage we read just now, Jesus calls us (his disciples) to love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our strength, with all our soul and with all our mind. This is the great and first commandment that sums up the entire law. True Christian spirituality involves our whole being - heart, head and hand. Our feeling, thinking and doing are all involved.

If we do not love God with all our heart, what happens? Our spiritual life will be all head knowledge but there is no real passion, desire or joy in it. We merely analyze God but we don’t worship Him. And if we do not love God with all our strength, then no practical fruit comes out of our beliefs. It’s NATO “No Action Talk Only”. Next Sunday Pastor Aik Khiam will preach on the Great Commandment of Jesus in more detail so…

Today I just want to zoom in on loving God with all our mind and ask 3 questions:
- Now, what happens if we do not love the Lord our God with “all our mind”?
- What are some practical benefits of developing a Christian mind?
- If this is important and practical, what can we do as disciples of Jesus to follow after God’s thoughts? To disciple our minds to love God…

So I hope to suggest why the role of the mind is so crucial to our discipleship, how a renewed Christian mind can be intensely practical (not just theoretical) and how we can go about loving God with “all our mind” as a church.

Many of us know about Billy Graham… he’s a great evangelist who has probably preached the gospel to more people than anyone else through radio and TV broadcasts and mass evangelistic rallies. Almost 30 years ago, the Billy Graham Centre was launched with a mission to help churches to evangelize. At the dedication service, they invited a Lebanese Christian named Charles Malik to deliver a very challenging message. He said: “I must be frank with you: the greatest danger facing American Evangelical Christianity is the danger of anti-intellectualism. The mind as to its greatest and deepest reaches is not cared for enough… The problem is not only to win souls but to save minds. If you win the whole world and lose the mind of the world, you will soon discover you have not won the world. Indeed it may turn out you have actually lost the world.” In other words, he’s saying, even if the whole world become Christian in name but their thinking is still captured by worldly patterns, then it may turn out that we have actually lost the world. If he is right and I think he is about a very common neglect to care for the life of the mind not only in America but also in Malaysia, then perhaps it is appropriate for us as a church to spend a bit more time exploring how we may love God with ‘all our mind’. So that’s one reason to devote a whole sermon on this aspect of obeying the Great Commandment. Not because the other areas are not important, but because there is such widespread neglect for such a crucial need today.

So what happens if we do not love the Lord our God with “all our mind”?

Nowadays, information about anything under the sun is just a Google search away. We cannot totally isolate ourselves or our loved ones from ideas… even dangerous ideas or deceptive philosophies out there in the market.

And if we do not submit our thinking to God’s truth, then obviously our minds will be easily influenced by worldly ways of life. We may still call ourselves Christians but we absorb notions about wealth, about sex and about success from MTV, popular movies or Youtube without even knowing it. Our thinking will be shaped by the patterns of the world, all those big words like hedonism that says (Life is short. Grab all the fun you can get), or consumerism (I shop till I drop because my social status depends on what I buy) or pragmatism (Whatever. As long as it works, I don’t care how you do it), and all sorts of other ‘ism or philosophies about life.

If we do not care for our mind, we may also run around with lots of programs and activities (giving an appearance of vibrant spiritual life) but we don’t stop and reflect “Why are we doing this? Is this biblical? We may do things right but are we doing the right things?” Or we may also run the danger of emotionalism – that means, having lots of misguided passion, having lots of zeal but without wisdom. Sad but true, I’ve come across some sincere but seriously misguided people who slither on the floor like snakes, roar like lions, bark like dogs because they mistakenly believed that is what God wanted them to do. Truth without emotion produce dead orthodoxy but emotion without a true vision of the greatness of God produces a shallow frenzy. The Father in heaven looks for worshippers who worship in spirit and in truth. Passionate feelings for God rooted in sound doctrine about God will express itself in songs, shouts, tears, silent awe, confessions and obedient lives. Head and heart and hands…

Last but not least, if we do not know what we believe and why we believe, then our evangelism or our witness of the gospel will suffer. We will lack boldness because we are afraid of the questions people may ask. When I have lunch with some colleagues, we usually talk about work, the economy, Malaysian politics or family stuffs. And there’s a guy who is very shy and has no opinion when it comes to topics like these. But if the conversation suddenly turns to football, then his eyes will light up and he cannot stop talking. Why? Because he knows a lot about football and he can offer expert opinions on anything relating to football like Shebby Singh. So he’s not shy or quiet anymore. It’s the same when it comes to sharing the gospel. That’s why 1 Peter 3:15 says: “Be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you for a reason for the hope you have in Christ.” This command to be ready with a reason or defence for frequently-asked questions from sceptics and seekers is not given to an elite group of scholars or intellectuals. No, it’s for the whole church. Be prepared. Be equipped with answers. Then boldness kicks in.

But if it is so important to love God with our mind, why do many Christians often downplay the role of the mind when it comes to spiritual things? When it comes to secular knowledge, we say “Ah Chai: Stop your computer games, study harder, memorize these facts and pass all your exams”. We encourage them to devote much time to read books and use their minds. But when it comes to theological knowledge, we say “Who needs theology? Aiya, don’t think so much la... Just have more faith. Read books ah? Where got time? Busy la…” This common suspicion towards the role of the mind in our spiritual life may sometimes be caused by misunderstanding certain Bible passages. For example: “What’s the use of reason since Jesus says we should have faith like a child? (Matthew 8:13) Didn’t the apostle Paul say Knowledge puffs up our pride (1 Corinthians 8:1) so we should stop pursuing knowledge?”

But actually, a childlike faith refers to a humble, dependent trust in God. It is the humility and dependent trust of a helpless child that Jesus praises. He is not encouraging childish thinking. The apostle Paul wrote, “Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.” (1 Corinthians 14:20) When he wrote that knowledge puffs up, he is warning us against a proud attitude that show off one’s spiritual knowledge for self-promotion instead of using it to build up each another. The real problem he’s getting at is arrogance, not knowledge in itself. So our proper response is humility and love, not ignorance. There are people who are knowledgeable and yet humble just as there are people who are proud and know a lot. But it is also possible to be arrogant and ignorant at the same time. I’m in the consulting line and sometimes people say of consultants: “Know a bit but pretend to know it all”. Gordon Fee: why must we choose between ‘fool on fire’ or a ‘scholar on ice’? Lord, help me to be a “scholar on fire”. Not everyone is called to be a scholar, but we should all be disciples of Jesus whose minds continually grow in knowledge and hearts continually burn with passion.

Q2: OK, fine but is it practical or not? This business about developing a ‘Christian mind’ - Isn’t it just theoretical, head knowledge that does not help us live properly?

When Doctor Wendy and I look at the same skin problem, we “see” radically different things. She can observe more because with years of study, her mind is filled with relevant medical concepts that enable her to look for the right things and tell me whether it’s a basal cell carcinoma or not. Whereas I can stare at the sore all day and not see what she saw. Believe me, this ability to see is something very practical. It can make a difference between life and death. Similarly, if your mind is equipped with biblical concepts like creation, sin and redemption, you are able to look at life and the world and see things that others don’t even notice. You can see beyond surface appearance in world events, culture or people and discern truth from error, right from wrong, beauty from ugliness.

Although there is some truth to the perception that scholars always argue over irrelevant issues, the best theologians actually help us to gain wisdom for life. After all, a good theory is a very practical thing. When I don’t know the way to KLCC, having a good map helps me decide whether to turn left at this junction or right at that traffic light. The map itself is not KLCC but just a theoretical model of the real thing. But if the map is accurate, it can be very useful. In the same way, an accurate mental map of reality guides our navigation through difficult decisions in the world.

Because what we believe to be true has a powerful influence over how we should live. For example, if we view human life as just a biological machine, we won’t be terribly inclined to treat it with much dignity or respect. But if we see human beings as more than biology but also a person made in the image of God with infinite worth, it compels us to treat life as sacred and other people with dignity and respect. Sound theology is practical when it connects to life and flow from the head to the heart and to the hands. True knowledge and living experience should enrich each other.

And if we are serious about our witness for the gospel in a multi religious society like Malaysia, we need to intentionally raise up a generation of confident, informed and winsome ambassadors for Christ. We can preach with all the fervor of a Billy Graham but win only a beggar here and there if we allow the intellectual atmosphere of our society to oppose the gospel by sheer logic. The strategy is not retreat and isolate ourselves in a safe little corner. But to cultivate a robust Christian worldview that understands and engages culture. To do that, we need to provide thinking tools that empower our youths and children, so they will learn how to evaluate what’s true and good on their own. My wife Grace is scheduled to deliver tomorrow. Newborn babies get a vaccination jab which contain some virus or bacteria so that their immune system can be developed. Similarly, we can boost up our spiritual immune system by being informed of what other religious beliefs are first and be equipped to evaluate them from a biblical perspective.

Today, there is an urgent and serious need for us to explore how the church as a redeemed community in the world responds to issues like racism, inter-religious harmony, economic inequality, caring for creation, the spread of infectious diseases, and ethics in medical technology. Since the gospel is public truth (not just private experiences), we have a responsibility to speak sensibly in the public square, through the media, in places where these crucial and practical issues of life are discussed and decided. We cannot address these burning issues in our Malaysian society without faithfully and diligently applying our minds to connect God’s word with God’s world.

Lastly, if the mind is crucial and practical to our spiritual life and witness, how then shall we recover and develop a Christian mind in ourselves and in others? (Q3)

Here are four simple suggestions which are by no means exhaustive:

a) Our mind needs to be fed. You are what you eat. If you eat junk food, your body will be weak or sick. You are what you read also. If you read healthy, solid books, your mind will also develop strong mental muscles or habits. There is no short cut. Let’s start small: Have we read the whole Bible at least once? LT Jeyachandran: If we don’t even know what’s inside this book, why do we believe it is God’s word?

b) Memorizing bible verses and facts alone doesn’t mean that we have developed a Christian mindset. Our minds need exercise. We need to re-imagine creatively and critically how to apply the biblical teachings of creation, sin, and redemption to life issues we face daily in the marketplace as a lawyer, artist, businessperson, teacher, healthcare workers etc. Advertisement: The church library has invested in many interesting helpful resources to equip us to do just that. Start with your own interests and passions.

c) If you are a student, do you think Christianly about the subjects you learn in school or college? I once met a student in church who was studying psychology at HELP Institute. So I encouraged her: “Wow, that’s an interesting field. There are many areas in which psychology overlap to what the Bible teaches about the soul. Some faculty members like Dr Goh Chee Leong are committed Christians”. What she told me next broke my heart: “You know what, most Christians would frown when they hear that I’m doing psychology and you are one of few people who actually encouraged to pursue it”. I know there are some theories in psychology that may be incompatible with the Christian faith. But in every discipline, including law, economics, arts and science, you’d find some theories which do not fit well with our beliefs. If we discourage people from studying and run away then who’s going to get in there and do better psychology, better economics and better science from a biblical outlook? Speak to the pastors and see how you may discern what is true, beautiful and right expressed in these disciplines of your research. They could well be your “fulltime ministry” in future.

d) Volunteer to join or lead evangelism groups like Alpha or Christianity Explored where small groups are trained in the art of giving a reason for our faith in Christ. So you learn to handle frequently asked questions from seekers with humility, confidence and knowledge. When you are stumped once, just say “I don’t know but I’d find out for you” – then go home and do your homework, ask around and get back to them. That way, all of us learn to grow in our journey of faith.

Can you imagine what the transformation of our spirituality and witness in society looks like when our minds are regularly renewed with such practices? It is a lifelong project that requires lots of energy and time, but the effort will be worth your while. And you’ll never know just when a curious young believer may approach you with questions like “Why did God create the dinosaurs?”

You know what, recently, a student in MMU asked me about the dinosaurs and how they fit in Genesis. Ask and you shall be asked in return.

Do you know how I answered him? Basically I gave him a few possible Christian answers to that question, some pros and cons in each theory depending on how you look at the fossils and how you understand the book of Genesis. But in the end, the Bible is not meant to be a biological textbook to tell us everything about dinosaurs. Genesis tells us who created the universe and why everything is created, but its main purpose is not to tell us specifically how it all came about. Then one female student chipped in: “If God didn’t create dinosaurs, we won’t have any petroleum today! Our cars depend on fossil fuel ma...” And I thought “Ya hor… Have you ever thought of becoming a theologian?”

The point is this: Loving God with “all our mind” does not mean that we can understand absolutely everything about God and His ways. Because God is God, and we are finite creatures, there will always be mystery. And some of our questions will only be answered when we meet God one day. That should not be an excuse for us to be lazy in our thinking, but it is a needed reminder that there is a limit to our ability to reason and sometimes, all we can do is save up our questions for heaven… To ask God when we finally meet Him face to face…

Let us pray.

Salt And Light For The World

Download Sermon Audio here

Matthew 5:13-16 "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. 14"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

Good morning church! We have just started a series of sermons based on one of the greatest sermons ever preached - the Sermon on the Mount as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew. Last week, Rev Wong preached on what it looks like to be people living under the Kingdom or the Rule of God, to be a people who follow after Jesus as King. We found out that those who inherit the kingdom of heaven are the poor in spirit, meek, merciful, peacemakers, they thirst and hunger for righteousness, the pure in heart. Here Jesus is laying down what it means to be blessed under His Kingship and what this alternative way of being human looks like.

When Mahatma Gandhi was once asked about how to solve the problems between Great Britain and India, he picked up a Bible and opened it to the fifth chapter of Matthew and said: "When your country and mine shall get together on the teachings laid down by Christ in this Sermon on the Mount, we shall have solved the problems not only of our countries but those of the whole world."

He’s onto something there. When Gandhi put into action his non-violent struggle for the independence of India, it inspired civil rights movements all over the world. Yet the Sermon on the Mount is not just about Jesus telling people to be nice to each other. There’s a bit of that, of course, but you don’t need to go up the mountain to learn that. Some monks or spiritual gurus climb up the mountain to get away from the worries and problems of this world and devote themselves to a life of meditation. But others go up the mountain for less peaceful reasons.

Historian NT Wright gives us some background: “In the time of Jesus, the hills above the Sea of Galilee also used to be the hangout (or lepak place) for holy revolutionaries, for outlaws ready to fight the pagan Romans and bring in the kingdom of God - by force if necessary. Up in the hills there are caves; a generation before Jesus, some of the revolutionaries had been smoked out from these caves by King Herod”.

Many first-century Jews were expecting a Messiah who would pick up the sword and ride out to destroy their enemies like Aragorn in the movie LOTR. And there were many wanna-be messiahs like that … They usually ended up dead (crucified on a Roman cross). In any case, this kingdom of God business is really quite dangerous. It comes with a stern warning: Don’t try this at home.

Given this historical background, you can imagine when Jesus first gave the message we now call Sermon on the Mount, saying things like “Repent! The kingdom of God is at hand”, he would have looked like someone gathering followers for a new movement, inviting people to sign up for a great cause. He was calling his hearers to a new way of being Israel, a new way of living as God’s people for the world. It would have felt more like a political rally than a philosophical lecture today.

But how will this kingdom of God come about?

Try to imagine (if you can) just how radical Jesus’ message was to his original audience when He says: “Yes, the kingdom of God is here. Yes, the LORD YHWH Himself is come at last to usher in His divine rule over all the earth. But who are the blessed people entering into this Kingdom? They are the meek, the peacemakers, the poor in spirit, the merciful, those who mourn, those persecuted for righteousness…”

You can almost hear His audience go: “Hello? What’s going on here? Are you sure Jesus didn’t say “Blessed are the war-mongers… Blessed are those who are strong, brave and violent for they will kick the Roman army out of Israel forever?! And what’s this business about turning the other cheek? No way. We should be the ones giving out persecution, not receiving it!”

But to Jesus, the way of the Kingdom is not through waving the sword (or waving the keris in our Malaysian context). The way of the kingdom is through bearing the cross. God’s kingdom turns the values of this world upside down and inside out. Yet it’s the only way to live. It’s the only way to be the people of God. The Sermon on the Mount is an exciting and yet dangerous manifesto for change in the world. Jesus did not go up the mountain to escape the world’s problems. Instead He is starting a revolution. But it’s a revolution of love. The Kingdom of God is here as a present reality today. And it’s subverting the world order as we know it.

In the Gospel passage we read just now, Jesus used two metaphors to describe the influence that His followers would have on society: "You are the salt of the earth; you are the light of the world." If we live our lives the Jesus way, according to the vision laid out in the Sermon on the Mount, we will make an impact in a spiritually decaying culture. If we become who we were meant to be, we cannot help but be shining light to a world surrounded by darkness.

Will you sign up for this movement? Will you be part of this revolution of love?

John Stott puts it this way: "Jesus calls his disciples to exert a double influence on the society - a negative influence by arresting its decay and a positive influence by bringing light into its darkness. For it is one thing to stop the spread of evil; it is another to promote the spread of truth, beauty and goodness." — John R. W. Stott, The Message of the Sermon on The Mount.

John Stott and Tim Keller are two Christian leaders who have reflected deeply on how the church can be salt and light in the world today so I’d like to draw out three implications from these metaphors based heavily on what they have written:

The First Implication is this: Be radically different, don’t compromise

In the old days, people do not have a fridge (or refrigerator) so salt was used primarily as a preservative. Salt prevents food from going bad or rotten and slows down the process of decay. But if salt is mixed with sand, for example, it is no longer effective as a preservative to delay corruption. It has become useless and gets thrown out on the streets.

In a similar way, as salt of the earth, the church has a preserving influence in a spiritually decaying society. Every day we read of depressing news in the papers, how crime rates, sex scandals, corruption cases and racial tensions have gone from bad to worse. The more rotten the world becomes, the more it stands in need of salt.

But to do that, the Church needs to maintain her integrity as salt of the earth. If it has compromised its purity or gets mixed up with worldly values, then it loses its saltiness and is no longer of any use.

In every culture, there are always areas where we would find tension or opposition against Kingdom values and also areas in culture where we would have find some common ground. For example, in the rural Muslim heartlands of Kelantan, what Jesus taught about sexual purity in the Sermon on the Mount would make a lot of sense. But they would find Jesus’ command to turn the other cheek and love your enemy quite hard to swallow.

In the more urban, more liberal places like Bangsar or Sri Hartamas, what Jesus taught about non-violence and forgiving your enemies may be easier to accept. But what He taught about sexual purity would seem strange, even offensive. “Wah! Look lustfully also cannot ah”. So they would have a problem there.

That tells us something important: The gospel (because it is God’s word) will never fit in perfectly well with any human culture including our own. And it is always tempting for us to downplay or ignore the offensive parts and harp on the bits we find easy to digest. So as we spend some time exploring the Sermon on the Mount in the next few weeks, we need to allow ourselves to be confronted again and again by the challenge of Jesus. There are some parts that are easy to accept – that’s great, but don’t stay there. Move on. You’d also find there will be parts, especially those parts of His teachings that are hard to accept – we need to slow down and let them challenge and transform us again.

Because if we just pick and choose what we like to hear and ignore those that challenge our lifestyles, we run the danger of domesticating the gospel. That means we water down the gospel to fit nicely into our own biased cultural baggage. Instead of being countercultural, we have compromised with the world. We have lost our saltiness. Our gospel has become too small and too tame. And too lame

Sometimes in our eagerness to be ‘relevant’ and ‘reach out’, it is tempting for us to be so attracted to the surrounding culture that we downplay the centrality of the gospel and stress more on an emotional fix or self-help advice. Some may even downgrade the importance of truth in the name of cultural engagement.

But to be salt of the earth, we must live as a radically different kind of community. Not just as individuals. Jesus says we are "a city on a hill" that reflects God's glory to the world. We are called to be a countercultural community within the earthly city of Kuala Lumpur. And the way we treat sex, money, success and power should point to an alternative (and more authentic) way of being human.

For example, when it comes to sex, our Malaysian culture either makes sex into an idol or we have a phobia of sex. I came across a local magazine slogan that says “In Lust, We Trust!” instead of “In God We Trust”. That’s making sex into an idol. Malaysian politicians say crazy things all the time but one f’ler said something like this: “Ladies, you must cover up your face or else the guys can’t control themselves! And it’s all your fault!” That’s phobia of sex. But the Kingdom people should be different. It avoids both extremes of hedonism and prudishness. It is a community that so loves and cares for its members that sexual purity makes sense. Because sex is so precious, we do not cheapen it but rather celebrate it in the context of an exclusive, self-giving commitment. That means abstinence outside of marriage and faithfulness within marriage.

Regarding money, the Kingdom people encourage a radically generous sharing of time, energy and resources to social justice and the needs of the poor, the immigrant, and the physically weak. Jesus’ Kingdom turns the world upside down: You must die to live. You must lose to gain. Weakness is strength. Joy in the midst of suffering. Love those who persecute you. Pray for those who hate you. It is not the strong or the violent who will inherit the earth, but the meek.

Which brings us to the question: Are we radically different like that? Or are we just the same? Are we worshipping a Jesus who only exists to provide us with health, wealth and comfort? Are we transforming culture or are we just conforming to culture?

If all the Christians in Malaysia were to suddenly disappear today, would anyone notice? Would it have big, small or no effect whatsoever on Malaysian society? What do you think? Are we salty enough? Am I?

The Second Implication is this: Be creatively engaging, don’t isolate

You know, darkness is not a thing. It has no force of its own. Darkness is simply the absence of light. When light is turned on, darkness is gone. The very presence of light dispels darkness. As light of the world, we reflect God’s truth to a world in darkness through word and deed. “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven”
So just being different is not enough, the kingdom community must also be in touch with the society at large. Salt does nothing good if it stays in the saltshaker. Light does no good if you hide it under a bowl. It has to permeate the darkness. If we isolate ourselves in our own little corner, separated from the rest of the world, our light won’t reach anyone else.
There’s a famous saying: “The only thing needed for evil to prosper is for good people to do nothing.” All you need to do is to fold your arms and do nothing. And darkness will have its way.

But in the past, the church at her best has been a fine example of how the gospel can transform and reform a society like ours. During the Great Awakening revival under such men of God as George Whitefield, the Wesley brothers, William Wilberforce, Lord Shaftesbury and others, the gospel was faithfully preached, churches were planted and people were inspired to take up social causes in the name of Christ. The proclamation of the gospel (in word) and the demonstration of the gospel (in deed) have always come naturally together.

Let me share a story how this can happen. You can watch it in action in a movie called “Amazing Grace”, based on the life of William Wilberforce. Wilberforce was a Christian Member of Parliament in Great Britain who worked all his life to abolish slavery of African people. (By the way, human trafficking and modern-day slavery is not a thing of the past, it’s something happening at our own doorsteps. Even in Malaysia!)

Wilberforce first launched his campaign for abolition of slavery in 1787 and lived to see it finally succeed in 1833 (just three days before his death). That’s 46 years in total! His life reminds us that social justice is a long, painful marathon. It’s not a 100 meter sprint. For the first twenty years, he suffered nothing but defeats, rejection from friends, insults from enemies, physical illness and even threats to his life. And it’s so easy to burnout.

But social justice is a community project, not a solo effort.

Fortunately for him, William Wilberforce has a group of friends who work and walk together with him. This famous small group was nicknamed “The Clapham Sect” or “The Saints”. They shared a deep conviction in the evangelical Christian faith, a long-term commitment to a social cause and a lifelong spiritual friendship. Won’t you like to be part of a cell group like that?

What’s more amazing is that in their lifetime, this little platoon of committed believers managed to start a Missionary Society, a Bible Society, they promote agricultural reform to supply affordable food to the poor, prevent cruelty to animals (RSPCA), promote Sunday school education, prison reform, improve harsh child labor conditions and championed the freedom to preach the gospel in India! It’s simply amazing… It’s both word and deed. And the impact of their work can still be felt today. So don’t underestimate the power of small, committed groups to start social change.

It’s not necessary to use political power (we don’t need to start any “Christian Rights Action Force” movement called CHRISAF). We don’t need to wait until there’s a huge Christian population to make a positive influence in society. Small groups of committed people empowered by the gospel can make a significant difference where we are!

We may not do exactly what Wilberforce did but just imagine what we can do if each small group in church creatively commits ourselves long term to at least one social cause that we are passionate about? Be it Makasih, education for orang asli village, advocacy for environmental care, evangelism amongst the surrounding student population and so on.

Let’s continue to open up the windows and let the light out! If you are not part of this revolution yet, sign up today. Talk to the pastors how you also can help out.

The Final Implication is this: Be influencers for the common good, don’t be narrow

Being salt and light implies that Christians can and should influence the wider society. Salt hinders bacterial decay. Light dispels darkness. We cannot create a perfect society today as suggested by the “social gospel”. But we can improve it.
The moment we say that, however, some people will cringe with fear. “Uh-oh. Are you trying to impose your Christian values on everybody else? Please keep your faith private ok... Keep it at home. Don’t bring it out in public.”

Well, there are many public issues that call for our prayer and action today like the ban on the word Allah in our Malay language Bibles. That has serious impact on our bumiputra brothers and sisters in East Malaysia. And the famous Lina Joy case, church buildings being demolished and yes, we need to speak up on such issues. But if we only get worked up over ‘Christian’ issues and do not care or speak up for our fellow Malaysians who are not Christians, then our social agenda is too narrow and too inward looking. We need to be influencers for the common good of all, regardless of race, gender, social class or creed. This is very much in line with our CDPC anniversary theme last month - “Loving Our City”.

Tim Keller says it so well at this point I may as well quote him in full. He says: “Christians should be a community radically committed to the good of the city as a whole. We must move out to sacrificially serve the good of the whole human community, especially the poor… the ultimate purpose of redemption is not to escape the material world, but to renew it. God's purpose is not only saving individuals, but also inaugurating a new world based on justice, peace, and love, not power, strife, and selfishness.

So Christians work for the peace, security, justice, and prosperity of their city and their neighbors, loving them in word and in deed, whether they believe what we do or not. In Jeremiah 29:7, Israel's exiles were called not just to live in the city, but also to love it and work for its shalom—its economic, social, and spiritual flourishing. The citizens of God's city are the best possible citizens of their earthly cities.

(Listen to this, I love this part) This is the only kind of cultural engagement that will not corrupt us and conform us to the world's pattern of life. If Christians go to urban centers simply to acquire power, they will never achieve cultural influence and change that is deep, lasting, and embraced by the broader society. We must live in the city to serve all the peoples in it, not just our own tribe. We must lose our power to find our (true) power. Christianity will not be attractive enough to win influence except through sacrificial service to all people, regardless of their beliefs.”

Wow! In other words, our cultural engagement must be shaped by the cross. It is sacrificial giving in the service of others. With no strings attached.
Remember the movie Lord of the Rings? The Dark Lord Sauron puts his own evil power inside a magical Ring to rule over the world. Whoever has the Ring will have great power, so powerful he can even beat the Dark Lord. Many people want to use the Ring of power for good, but eventually they themselves become corrupted and wanted the Ring for themselves. Like Gollum who became a twisted, little dark lord himself: My precioussss… Those who keep the ring for themselves shall lose it.

So what’s the solution? The good guys got a peace-loving hobbit named Frodo to do the unthinkable. His mission: “Carry the ring of power to Mount Doom and destroy it.” By doing so, Frodo is saving the world through weakness. He’s not using the ring of power but destroying the ring of power. That’s the only way to beat Sauron.
The story reminds us of our Lord Jesus who instead of grabbing power with an army of angels chose instead to carry the cross for the sake of others. Those who lose their lives shall find it. He saved the world through weakness and self-sacrifice. In the same way, true spiritual power for the church comes when we renounce coercive power and bear our cross and follow Christ instead.

A few years ago, there was a flood in some parts of Johor and some Christian volunteers were helping to distribute food/clothing to flood victims still trapped in their homes. One Christian guy saw that there is a village that was not yet covered so he said: “Let’s go there!” To his shock, some other Christians told him, “No la, it’s a waste of our time. There’s no use going to that community because we are not allowed to preach the gospel to them. It’s better if we go to this other village (mostly Chinese) because after we distribute the food we can preach to them also”. In my personal view, that’s too narrow!

Yes, the good news is the power of God unto salvation. We should not be ashamed of the gospel. Although evangelism and social action belong together (hand-in-hand), neither is a means for the other. They are equal partners. Our good works should be an expression of genuine love for our neighbor who is in need. And love doesn’t need to justify itself. It is not a means to another hidden agenda. There is no string attached.

We share the good news because we love people. As we genuinely minister to physical needs, we will find opportunities to minister to their spiritual needs as well. But we don’t show love to people primarily as an excuse to evangelize. If they don’t respond or listen to the gospel, does that mean we stop loving them?
Our social agenda must not be narrowly defined, but broad and embracing enough to include the city as a whole. That’s why we should care for issues like environmental conservation, eradicating poverty, abolishing human trafficking, and defending the human rights of women and children and so on.

A friend Marvin Wong wrote: Christian involvement in society is therefore not a part time activity that we engage in after our main task of evangelism is done, but an integral part of our overall Gospel witness. It would be inconsistent for a Christian to claim to love one’s neighbor as oneself and yet remain passive and silent when the same neighbor is in need or treated unjustly.

So here’s the big story: The Creator God has created human beings in His own likeness but they have rebelled against His loving rule. As a result, our fellowship with God is broken. Then the Creator God sets in motion this plan to rescue these rebels by blessing Abraham as the father of a great nation so that they in turn will be a blessing to all the nations of the earth. The nation of Israel was born and then redeemed from slavery in Egypt. The creator God established a covenant with Israel and appointed Israel to be a light to the Gentiles so that through its witness, the surrounding nations will come to know God and His ways. But Israel has failed her calling again and again through disobedience and unfaithfulness.

Now enter the Messiah, the King Himself has come to usher in the Kingdom of God. He will renew, restore and transform the heaven and the earth so that every part of creation is filled with the glory of God. But His kingdom is also a present here-and-now reality. God’s redemptive, missional plan is still moving forward.

His redeemed people are to live today as if the future is already present. The way we live are to be signposts pointing forward to what God’s kingdom in its future fullness would look like. The church is like a movie preview: We are to display some teasers/highlights from the full movie so people go: “Wow I wanna go see the real show”. Coming soon to a planet near you!

Will you sign up for this movement of God for the world?
Will we choose to follow a safe Jesus who exists to provide us with health, wealth, comfort, and happiness? Or do we want the real thing even when it costs us a great deal?

Let us pray…