Kong Hee is the Founder and Senior Pastor of City Harvest Church.
Thirty years ago, Sun and I, with a handful of friends, obeyed the call of God and founded City Harvest Church. Most of us were barely out of our teens, but despite our simplicity of faith and inexperience toward life, we were passionate for Jesus and committed to follow Him as best we could. And what an amazing journey it has been! Over the course of three decades, God has brought us on a spiritual adventure of epic proportions that we could never have thought of or imagined when we took our first step of faith in 1989. We are all today firsthand witnesses of the powerful revival, church growth and overseas missions that the Holy Spirit has wrought among us. I can only respond with awestruck humility and thanksgiving to Him who has begun this good work in us (Phil. 1:6).
At the same time, there is no denying that ministry is never easy or smooth sailing. Life itself is filled with mountain-top highs and valley-down lows. As imperfect saints prone to sin and daily in need of God’s help, we all have our fair share of disappointments, heartbreaks, griefs and losses, as well as our personal failures and mistakes. But the Lord leaves us in a fallen world precisely to be tried and tested by troubles that sometimes threaten to crush us, so that He can continually shape our lives to display the richness of His grace.
Each time He heals a sickness or delivers us from difficulties, He manifests His power to save.
Other times when miracles are not forthcoming, He demonstrates His grace for us to endure and persevere.
In either case, God’s constant sustenance through life’s every circumstance calls forth new praises from us as He upholds and takes us higher and deeper in Him.
The journey that I have experienced in recent years has brought me to ponder deeply about the purpose of life. In my study of the Scripture, I have come to the conclusion that the primary purpose of every Christian must be to glorify God. In fact, the opening statement of The Westminster Shorter Catechism (the basic faith statements of Protestant Christianity) states unequivocally that “the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever”. Everything He has done in creating, sustaining and redeeming us is for “the praise of His glory” (Eph. 1:6, 12, 14).
THE GLORY OF GOD
What exactly is the glory of God? It is the majestic display of His presence, power, and character. It is deity in action.
In the Bible, we read of the awe-inspiring Shekinah, a bright cloud that looks like white hot fire (Ex. 24:17), appearing among God’s people and in His temple (e.g., Ex. 40:34-38; 1 Kin. 8:10-11). We learn that His glory was being made known through the creation of the universe and everything that exists in it, the incarnation and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the mighty workings of signs and wonders like healing, expelling demons, raising the dead, and miracles of power over nature.
Most importantly, however, God’s glory is displayed through His character―who He is as a God of holiness, love, and truth.
… He is so holy that His “eyes are too pure to look on evil” (Hab. 1:13).
… He loves so perfectly that God in Christ chose to suffer for sinners by dying on the cross to make atonement for sin.
… He is so truthful that He will eternally keep all the promises He made in His Word.
When God’s moral excellence of holiness, love, and truth, coupled with His power and presence, are tangibly and undeniably displayed in and through His people, that is when He is most greatly glorified.
REFLECTING CHRIST’S GLORY
Ivanpah Solar, situated at the Mojave Desert between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, is one of the world’s largest solar power stations. In the facility stands three 140-meter towers, each topped by a solar receiver or boiler. During daylight, what looks like brilliant balls of fire glow from them at a temperature of around 565°C. The secret to this amazing feat of engineering lies in the use of more than 300,000 mirrors that track the sun daily, from the time it rises until it sets. When sunlight strikes these mirrors, it is reflected onto the boilers’ pipes at the tower top. The concentrated sunlight heats the water to create super-heated steam, which is then piped into a turbine where electricity is generated.
Tremendous power is created when the network of mirrors functions in harmony, providing electricity to 140,000 homes and businesses! Note, however, that the towers themselves do not have the ability to generate power. The entire process is possible only because light from the sun―the real source of power―is first reflected onto the receiver.
Similarly, the church is like the receiver of a solar power station, and we Christians are all mirrors, tracking “the Sun of righteousness rising with healing in its ray” (Mal. 4:2) and reflecting His nature through our lives. As we grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus (2 Pet. 3:18), daily looking at God’s glory in the face of Christ (2 Cor. 4:6), we are transformed by the Holy Spirit into Christlikeness with ever-increasing glory (2 Cor. 3:18).
Everything about us changes―our thoughts, feelings, passions, desires, attitudes, motives, affections, concerns, choices, and commitments―even our understanding about God and His ways. As we are transformed, we manifest His divine glory and become shining beacons to the world around us. Our fallen world, darkened by fear, ignorance, and hopelessness, will be lighted by the empowered witness of His glory emanating from our lives.
ENJOYING GOD FOREVER
Along the way, however, let us also derive great pleasure in becoming the recipients and channels of His glory. “Pleasure” is really a part of the ideal human condition. After all, God created the first human beings and put them in “Eden”, which literally means “delight”. The original state of Adam and Eve was all delight and joy before they fell into sin.
The more I know God, the more I realize that glorifying Him should never be dull drudgery or a hard slog. On the contrary, we are to enjoy Him forever, with deep satisfaction and “joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Pet. 1:8). The fullness of joy and happiness is our daily portion as Christians (Ps. 16:11; Ps. 144:15).
I believe that God designed pleasure and delight to quicken our sense of His goodness and to deepen our gratitude to Him. Our Father in heaven wants us to enjoy our relationship with Him. His will is to bring us to our ultimate happiness through the enjoyment of Himself.
Then as we turn our faces toward God and reflect His glory in our lives, we will derive great pleasure in serving Him―His glory is our delight!
It is my deepest prayer that in our next 30 years as a church, we can experience the heart of Christianity, which according to theologian J. I. Packer, is to glorify God by our faith through patient endurance and sustained obedience. As we live our lives through smooth and rough places alike―in obedience and thanksgiving for every little mercy received―let us learn, as one spiritual household, to glorify God daily, and in so doing, enjoy Him forever.
If the last three decades have been nothing more than just a time of preparation or a rehearsal for what is to come, then Sun and I cannot wait to see what our God is about to do next. I have no doubt that Jesus has many exciting Spirit-led adventures in store for City Harvest Church. Let us get ready and enjoy the ride together.
Soli Deo Gloria―to God be all the glory!