City Harvest Church’s senior pastor, Kong Hee unpacked what it means to follow Christ and how to live as He did, taking on the character profile of Jesus – the fruit of the Spirit.
“All throughout the Gospels, we see Jesus calling people to follow Him,” said Kong Hee at his first sermon of the year on the weekend of Feb 2 and 3. His message centered on what it really means to follow Jesus and to attain Christlikeness, setting the direction for his teachings for the rest of 2020. Pastor Kong also announced the churchwide Bible study sessions he will be conducting on Feb 21 and 28 on the book of Revelation.
Pastor Kong emphasized right from the start that following Jesus is the central theme of the New Testament. He gave multiple examples from the Gospels; where Jesus called on the disciples to follow Him and without hesitation, they put everything down to follow Him. They were convinced that following Jesus would change their lives forever (John 1:36-37, 43, Matt 4:21-22, Matt 9:9, John 8:12).
“To follow a person means to pursue, imitate, shadow and stay close behind the person,” Pastor Kong said, “To conform to Him (Jesus), to be like Him in character, behavior, affection and attitudes.”
Reading from Ephesians 1:4, Pastor Kong pointed out, “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.“ Romans 8:29 teaches that Christians are “predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son”, to be like Jesus.
Juxtaposing both verses, Pastor Kong concluded that to be holy is to be conformed to the image of Jesus. “Holiness and Christ-likeness are synonymous,” he said. “Holiness doesn’t mean what you do or don’t do. It means to be like Jesus Christ!”
2 Corinthians 3:18 reads, “‘But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.’” “Through everything that has happened to us, or is happening in our lives, God is making us more and more like Jesus,” explained the senior pastor.
“Then one day when we see Him, we will become totally like Him,” he declared, citing 1 John 3:2.
Therefore, “Your vocation is not your number one calling,” asserted Pastor Kong. “Our first and primary calling is to be like Jesus.”
Driving his point home, he quoted 1 John 2:6, encouraging the church to live as Jesus did and be totally and meticulously like Him.
Living like Jesus and following Him also means to suffer victoriously as He did (1 Peter 1:21), as Jesus never lost His victorious spirit even in the midst of His suffering. Very often, Pastor Kong pointed out, a person’s greatest blessing can be found in the midst of his greatest suffering. Without being transformed by the Holy Spirit, it is impossible to be like Jesus.
Pastor Kong emphasized, “Christlikeness is the number one priority for New Testament Christianity. It’s my primary goal for you, as your senior pastor.” He cited Galatians 4:19 as the highest aim and challenge for Christian leadership.
He told the congregation that this is also the main focus of the second half of his life in ministry: to see Christ-likeness formed in every believer in CHC.
The pastor encouraged the people to gain a clearer picture of Jesus Christ in 2020. “The richer our vision of Christ, the richer our discipleship will be. If we can’t see Jesus, we won’t know Jesus … then we can’t become like Jesus!”
THE CHARACTER PROFILE OF JESUS
“The character profile of Jesus Christ is the fruit of the Spirit,” explained Pastor Kong. “As Christians, Jesus lives in us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.” When Christians allow the Holy Spirit to work in them, He will transform him daily to become more like Jesus.
Galatians 5:22-23 reads, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”
This totally describes Jesus’ character, His automatic response under pressure, Pastor Kong explained. However, it is impossible to maintain these virtues under pressure without the Holy Spirit’s empowerment. Not one fruit of the Spirit comes naturally to humans, they can only be formed supernaturally by the grace of God.
Longsuffering is a particularly hard thing to do in life. Pastor Kong explained that there are two parts to longsuffering: patiently enduring while persevering and continuing to do what God wants you to do. Even when life is unbearably painful, being Christlike is to remain in the fruit of love, joy, peace and kindness, while not losing your goodness, faithfulness and self-control. But the habit of longsuffering is essential if a Christian wants to be like Jesus.
Reflecting on his own past and how he used to get angry all the time, Pastor Kong said, “Every aspect of the fruit of the Spirit goes against every inclination we have as human beings.” Some people find it hard to love; others find it hard to keep their temper in check.
“Changing the habits natural to us into Christ-like ways of reacting means a total reconstruction of our inner lives,” he said. “We have to deliberately set ourselves to be like Jesus in every situation. You learn every day to walk in the Spirit, to be led by the Spirit and to keep on acting them out until it becomes your second nature.”
He encouraged the congregation to make the fruit of the Spirit—the nine graces—an “eternal” habit. This is also the most important thing Christians can and must do, above every success and achievement they have in life.
In conclusion, Pastor Kong reiterated the fact that following Jesus is to bear the fruit of the Spirit. “When we understand this, many words that Jesus said takes on a new meaning.” In John 15:4, 8 and 16, when Jesus talked about “bearing fruit”, He was not referring to productivity, but bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
He reminded the church that the Kingdom of God takes on the character of the King. That means that the atmosphere is filled with who Jesus is: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. “You must develop a taste for the fruit of the Spirit,” concluded Pastor Kong.