Last week, many of us from PSPC had the delightful privilege of attending our annual Church Camp and learning from Pastor Chris Chia who shared extensively from the Word of God. And one of the privileges of writing the “Reflection” on the first Sunday after Church Camp is that I get the treat of reflecting on the camp!
This camp must have touched many lives (including the lives of our 2 younger children – Faith and Joshua) because just pulling out of the car park from Makhota Hotel, we noticed that the air-conditioner was taking longer than usual to cool the car down! A few minutes later, on the road, it dawned on us that, yes, the air-conditioner was “kaput” and we would face a long road trip in the sweltering 35 degree heat … and I began to grumble. And one of the kids (or maybe both) quickly chipped in, “Dad, if Jesus is not Lord of your moments, He is not Lord at all!” Oops. Wisdom from the mouth of babes, taken verbatim from Pastor Chris!
If you looked up the PSPC Facebook page, you find Mark Chen’s post with the camp photos, “If Jesus is not Lord of your moments, He is not Lord at all” – attributed to Rev Chris Chia, 2014. Such was the impact of Chris’ messages that I wish all of us had the opportunity to be there!
And this got me reflecting on Pastor Chris’ 6 camp talks – which were based on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 – 7) – beginning with Jesus’ Radical Kingship, Anger Issues, Sexual Sin, what does it mean to love our neighbour, “money sins” and culminating in a challenge to choose this day, whom you will serve.
Challenging certain views that are current today – that the Sermon on the Mount is simply hyperbole not meant to be lived this side of heaven – Pastor Chris dared us to confront our sinful, selfish selves, and surrender them with no excuses, with no justifications, to our Lord Jesus who paid the ultimate price – not only for our salvation, but also for us to live as radical disciples, totally surrendered to His Lordship, that we may be salt and light to the world around us, shining like stars in the sky as we live blameless and pure lives in an increasingly crooked and warped generation (Philippians 2:15). For indeed the world around us is increasingly hostile towards God, increasingly self-centred – and thus increasingly antagonistic towards our faith in Jesus.
And if we continue to lead lukewarm lives, getting angry, getting lustful, getting even, getting worried, getting greedy and getting lost in life – how then might we be salt and light to the world around us? How then can we be witnesses for His name’s sake, “in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth?” (Acts 1:8)
My children’s remark in the car was a stark reminder – that if we are to be serious about discipleship, if we are to be serious about being radical followers of Jesus Christ – then indeed Christ has to be Lord of each moment of our lives. And the way people usually look at sins can no longer apply. As Pastor Chris reminded us – what matters is not “you have heard it was said”, what matters is not how our fellow human beings interpret sin – but what Jesus thinks of it.
Thus – if my big challenge is anger, then I have to see anger for what it really is: a subtle form of idolatry as I attempt to control the people around me to fit my purpose. If my big challenge is lust (sexual sin) – then I have to see lust for what it really is: taking my pleasure to be more important than God, which is equivalent to (if I am honest with myself) literally telling God “to hell with you”!
If my big challenge is self-centredness – then I have to see what selfishness really is: a treating of my God-given neighbours (people made in God’s image) as commodities, as property. If my big challenge is greed – then I have to see greed for what it is: a fundamental lack of trust that God will provide for me and my family’s needs despite His continued faithfulness demonstrated in the past as well as the present!
And as I reflect on these thoughts, my thoughts go to you, my brothers, who travel frequently for work (this is a challenge I have become more acquainted with this past couple of years and now I can empathize with you). Somehow – many of us brothers have to travel for work in this globalized age and being apart from our families, especially our spouses, is something we have to take seriously. Being tired while in the company of an attractive colleague is setting ourselves up for trouble, being bored in a hotel room alone is introducing a potentially disastrous situation. Being away for too frequently for too long and getting disconnected from our families is creating an unsustainable situation. And being exposed to all sorts of excitement – perhaps some of us begin to harbour a lingering low-grade dissatisfaction with our spouse?
Yet we have to work to bring home the bacon – so what can we do about it? Pastor Chris reminded us on the last morning – about the necessity of choices. Choice, Chris puts it, is an indispensable part of discipleship! I remember quite clearly the internet password of one of the hotels I sometimes stay at when I travel to the Philippines for ministry. Simple, but poignant – it is … “self-control”. In a similar vein, Chris shared about how a brother in Christ labels his computer screen “as for me and my mouse, we will serve the Lord”.
Brothers – let us do whatever it takes to help ourselves make good, radical choices for the Lord. Sisters – unfortunately you are not immune either. But as I am unable to give you a feminine perspective on this matter, you may need to speak to one of our female elders. But in any case – what we do with our bodies matter to God! Would we (you and I) be ruthless with any and every temptation to be unfaithful to God?