In two seemingly disparate sermons over last weekend, Dr. Robi Sonderegger taught City Harvest Church how to grow through crisis, then explained the manifestation of God using quantum physics.
On Saturday, it was a dance performance. On Sunday, it was a dramatized tale accompanied by music and animation.
Last weekend’s (May 24 and 25) service with City Harvest Church’s favorite clinical psychologist was filled with surprises. Dr Robi Sonderegger is a renowned clinical psychologist who specializes in the rehabilitation of trauma associated with war, sexual exploitation and natural disaster worldwide.
THE TOUGH GETS GOING
It was a veritable dance party on Saturday night at CHC. The moment he stepped on stage, Sonderegger began grooving to the tunes of ‘When The Going Gets Tough (The Tough Get Going)’ by Billy Ocean, ‘I Get Knocked Down’ by anarcho-punk band Chumbawamba and the popular ‘Pompeii’ by Bastille.
He eventually got the congregation to get up on their feet and the service got off to an energizing and entertaining start. In the words of the speaker, the introduction served as “a little CHC karaoke to warm up, loosen up, open up, rise up and ultimately look up!”
The little dance, however, served a much higher purpose than getting the congregation warmed up; it introduced the topic of the day: when the going gets tough, the tough get going.
How can humans maintain a position of optimism in the face of adversity? Having worked with individuals who had gone through traumatic events, Sonderegger observed that these people could slip into depression, bounce back from trauma, or grow through trauma and become better people. There were many Bible heroes, such as Noah, Joseph, Daniel, King David, Job and the Apostle Paul, who grew stronger through traumatic events.
Research has shown that people who possess these five qualities grow through their trauma:
This does not refer to merely religiously attending church or believing in God. The people who are resilient to trauma actually believe in a God who cares. God does not always get His people out of their problems or answer their prayers for deliverance, but He promised that He would walk with them through their valley of the shadow of death as written in Psalm 23.
Sonderegger likens gratitude to an emotional reboot button. He encouraged the congregation to keep a gratitude journal where they can pen down the things that they are thankful for at the end of each day. The psychologist also said that there are three different types of happiness—the pleasant life, the productive life, and the meaningful life. He challenged the congregation to take the spotlight off themselves and make a deposit into someone else’s life—to be a servant to others and live a meaningful life. This is the only kind of happiness that sustains.
Sharing from Ephesians 4:32, which says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you”, the speaker exhorted the congregation not to grow weary while doing good. Practically, this meant that in whatever one does, they should do it unto the Lord and maintain a positive attitude when they serve others. This is essentially the difference between a cheerful giver and a person who gives out of obligation.
Hope is the belief that tomorrow is going to be better than today. It is not something a person has or does not have; rather, it is something that is cultivated. Hope is also the leading indicator of success, be it academic success or success in other areas of life. For instance, the measure of hope in a relationship determines the extent of success of it.
2 Timothy 1:7 says that God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and sound mind. Sonderegger defined bravery, or courage, as the decision to dust off the dirt, stand up and battle again. In closing, Sonderegger quoted Winston Churchill: Do not let us speak of darker days: let us speak rather of sterner days. These are not dark days; these are great days. He reminded CHC that God truly cares and has their best interests at heart. Instead of having fear (which he acronymizes as “False Evidence Appearing Real”), the Church needs to know that God cares. No matter what kind of crisis they are going through, He will never leave them nor forsake them.
QUANTUM PHYSICS AND CHRISTIANITY
On Sunday, Sonderegger shared that, contrary to popular belief, science and faith are actually compatible. He opened his message with the story of creation in the Bible. “Hold on just a minute,” he said interrupting his own story. “How it possible that light existed before the creation of the sun?” he questioned. The Bible said that light appeared on the first day of creation whereas the sun was only created on the fourth day.
“Welcome to the world of quantum Christianity where even the things we think we know about our universe don’t seem to make sense!”
Sonderegger explained that the universe is made up of atoms and scientists have found that 99.9999 percent of an atom is made up of quantum wave particles that cannot be seen by the naked eyes unless it is manifested. This essentially means that everything in the universe is made up of “nothingness”.
This is not news, however, because the Bible has already recorded it in Hebrews 11:3, “things which are seen were not made of things which are visible”. It teaches Christians to have faith, which is “assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Like Christians, scientists also needed faith to believe that the unseen matters exist.
Quantum physics also knows that everything in the universe is held together by a mysterious light energy—because this light is the force that keeps the electrons tied around the nucleus in an atom. That is why God said in the beginning, “Let there be light”; without light, nothing can come into existence.
This is similar to what the Bible says in Colossians 1:16-17 about Jesus, otherwise known as the Light of the world: “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”
Both science and Christianity say that all things are held together by invisible light wave energy. Scientifically, this light wave energy was a non-material intelligence that operates outside time and space, and it can influence the material within time and space. Sonderegger said that is otherwise known as Holy Spirit—the supernatural that can influence the natural.
“No longer do we think that without the sun, light can’t exist, but rather, without the light, the sun can’t exist,” he propounded.
Sonderegger went on to explain that time, similarly, exists without the sun. A day starts when the sun rises and ends when the sun sets, so it logically follows that time exists because of the sun. God, however, introduced the concept of day and night on Day One of creation when light came into existence before the sun was even created. This means that light was the birth of time, not the sun. The sun was just a tool to show that time was passing, like a watch; it does not determine the existence of time.
The psychologist also said that this light wave energy is like the Holy Spirit because it operates beyond time and space. The subatomic light wave particles in an atom does not seem to exist yet, it can appears for a brief moment only when a scientist is fully focused on searching for it.
“This is interesting because in psychology, we know that whatever we focus on in our thinking, it manifests,” Sonderegger said. In the same way, if a person focus on a problem, he will get more of the problem; unless the person starts to focus on looking for God, he cannot find the solution.
The way Jesus works is very different from we consider “reality”, suggested Sonderegger. Jesus defies the laws of physics and work outside of time and space. He has access to a divine power and He says that His disciples have that power too; but if they focus on the wrong things, they will never see the manifestation of that power. Jesus made a promise in James 14:13 that if His disciples ask, He will do. “And when we do (work with the divine power), we apply a divine nature in a natural circumstance. Apply the super in the natural environment and experience supernatural momentarily,” said Sonderegger.
He backed up his words with a number of research papers that show prayer brings healing. The first experiment tested the healing effects of proximal prayer. Proximal prayer is similar to the laying on of hands on the sick, as instructed in the Bible. Results showed that the patients who were prayed for indeed received healing.
However, this first experiment received considerable criticism. Researchers conducted another experiment where they got intercessors to pray for randomly selected patients without them ever meeting. Results show that patients who were being prayed for needed less medication or mechanical support in contrast to those who had not been prayed for.
The final experiment divided 3,393 patients, who had fatal blood infection, into two groups; one group was prayed for by people who did not visit them, the other group was not prayed for. The analysis showed definitively that prayer was directly responsible for the patients’ recovery.
The most astonishing thing about this experiment was that the patients were not currently ill—these were patients who were sick 10 years ago, and if they died or recovered, it happened 10 years ago! The researchers had divided the names of patients into two groups at random, without the knowledge of whether they recovered or died, and got intercessors to pray for them. This meant that the prayers made 10 years later were directly responsible for the patients’ recovery at that time.
This seems impossible in a world where time is linear, but God works outside of time and space, Sonderegger explained. God sees that there were people (in the present) praying for a group of people (in the past), and He heals them on credit. God is bigger than the box we put Him in.
With this knowledge of the potential in God’s power and that He has given His believers the promise that they can participant in this divine power, what is the practical application? “More than praying for situations happening now, we can now go beyond time and space; we get to tap into the power of Jesus and become co-creators with Him,” he said.
Sonderegger gave this example: he and his wife are praying for the future husbands and wives of his children; he may not know them but he prays for them and for their parents’ marriage. He does this because children from healthy families (vs dysfunctional ones) are more likely to raise a healthy family.
Quoting Colossians 1:20, Sonderegger said that with the death of Jesus, He could fix everything that went wrong. He suggested that God was experimenting when He gave Man the power of freewill and access to His power. When Man messed things up, the only way for Jesus to take the power and dominion back was to come to earth, where the power was given, and died on the cross.
In closing, Sonderegger suggested that science and Christianity operate according to the same quantum foundation. God can exist in everyone’s heart because He exists beyond time and space. People can debate about the existence of God, but until they consciously seek Him, they will not experience His manifestation. Even if that encounter is a brief moment, its effects can last for a lifetime.
Ang Jian Hao, 25, a teacher, was deeply moved by the sermon. “The most important part of the message to me is that God works outside of time and space. He is a boundless God who is not limited by natural laws, and He has given us access to His power. It really stirred up my heart to believe that everything is possible with God!”