Jesus had His fair share of crises and changes in His life on earth. Studying five examples of how Jesus handled transitions, Pastor Kong Hee encouraged the church to learn from Jesus as they deal with the changes that COVID-19 brings.
By Sylvia Weku
COVID-19 has brought about some major changes in society; many are suffering from its effects. On the weekend of Jul 11 and 12, Kong Hee, senior pastor of City Harvest Church, taught the church how best to navigate the current crisis and grow through it by learning from Jesus.
Experts are saying that people today are now 44 percent more stressed out than they were in 1967, the year that psychiatrists, Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe, came up with the stress scale. This is mainly because most human beings do not handle changes well. According to the Harvard Business Review, people do not like to lose control and are worried that they would not be competent enough to handle new realities.
“Life is always changing, evolving, progressing and transitioning,” the pastor said. “What never changes is God and His promises.”
In Romans 8:28-29, God assures His followers that all things work together for good so that they can become more and more like Jesus. Looking at Jesus’ life and ministry, one can see that when Jesus was facing crisis and change, He never lost His way, His values or His purpose.
To be like Jesus, Christians too must learn to adapt and grow in the midst of crisis and change.
HOW JESUS COPED WITH CRISIS AND CHANGE
Throughout His life and ministry, Jesus He experienced crisis and change but He dealt with them in ways we can learn from.
1. Facing Different Seasons Of Life
Jesus used the season of change to grow in His mental and physical strength, and to enlarge His emotional and spiritual capacity. It is never easy to transition into a new season—one often gets lost in life. In Luke 2:41-52, Jesus was 12 years old when he was left behind in the temple after the Passover. Instead of being worried, Jesus spent His time discussing theology with the temple teachers.
“Here is a very important lesson for us,” the pastor noted. “When we go through a season of change, it is always a good time to grow in the Word (of God), and in knowledge. When the future is uncertain and we feel lost, His Word is a lamp to our feet, and the light unto our path.”
Pastor Kong also taught that studying the Bible is not just about getting information, but about transformation. When Christians fill their mind with biblical thoughts, their lives become more like Jesus’.
“Every new season requires new revelation and new illumination of the world,” he said, reminding the church not to get stuck in a certain mindset. “During this time, we must devote ourselves to the Word of God and grow to be ready for the next season.”
2. Starting A Ministry
When Jesus was 30, He was baptized and started His ministry as a traveling itinerant rabbi. From this point on, everything in Jesus’ life changed: He changed His career as a carpenter (His source of income) and His friends. Pastor Kong said that when Jesus was going through this change, He spent a lot of time with God reflecting, thinking about and clarifying His goals and His purpose.
“When it comes to our lives, we mustn’t just brainstorm with our friends and family, we must take time to think alone in God’s presence, allowing our thoughts, our ideas to be filtered through His Word in spirit,” Pastor Kong encouraged.
The pastor went on to preach that God allowed Jesus to be tested in the wilderness at that time so that Jesus would be clear about His own values. “We must be very clear about what God wants us to do because how we leave this season will determine if we excel in the next.”
The pastor urged the church not to compromise on their values and principles but to learn from Jesus. That is something that can only be done in solitude with God.
3. Facing Opposition
In Mark 2-3, not only was Jesus facing opposition from the religious community and national leaders, but His own family eventually grew so concerned about His psychological well-being that they showed up and tried to stop Him. Despite the tremendous public humiliation, Jesus accepted His circumstances and came to terms with them. Acceptance is the last stage of the five stages of grief, the pastor preached, and it must happen before God can do a new thing in a person’s life.
It is important to understand that these feelings—denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance—are all a part of the grieving process and they should not be repressed. Yet, it is also important to move past each stage to reach acceptance. Jesus went through all of those feelings and refused to be afraid. He explored different possibilities and took positive action.
4. Commissioning The Disciples
Jesus knew His time on earth was coming to an end, and wasted no time in training first the 12 disciples, then the 70 so that they could continue the work of the gospel.
“Jesus expanded His options. He prayed and sought the mind of God and took positive steps for the future. We must do the same.”
A time of danger is also a time of opportunity, the pastor said. “[This period] is a wonderful opportunity to pick up new skills to enrich our lives and to upgrade ourselves is an opportunity to exercise and become healthy and fit. It is a chance to create new structures and routines to rebalance our lives. It is a time for us to forge stronger ties with those at home. We can do so many things to get ourselves ready for the next season.”
5. Having Absolute Trust In God
Even at the end of Jesus’ life, His faith did not waver. In Luke 22:42, when Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Not My will, but Yours be done”, it was a quote from Psalms 31:5. Jesus trusted God so much that He quoted the Bible right to the very end.
In the face of crisis and change, it is important for a person to figure out how much control he actually has over a situation. The Bible records that Jesus did everything with an excellent spirit but for the things He knew He couldn’t control, He committed it to God. Pastor Kong reminded the church of the Serenity Prayer that his wife, Pastor Sun, shared in her sermon a few weeks ago and encouraged them to trust God absolutely, just as Jesus did.
Concluding his message, Pastor Kong urged the church to learn from Jesus and wisely use this season of change to grow in the knowledge of God and their own character. He reminded them to spend time alone with God to think through their plans for the future, to clarify their values and guiding principles. It is important to grieve all their losses, but more important to do it in God’s presence and to accept the change.
Pastor Kong ended his message with a reminder that Christlikeness is mastery over self, others and over change. He closed with a prayer for those in the congregation going through a difficult time of change, that they would be able to do all they can and to entrust their lives fully to God.