Preaching from the story of the rich young ruler, Pastor Kong Hee laid down what Jesus is looking in the heart of a disciple.
On the weekend of Sept 18 and 19, senior pastor of City Harvest Church Kong Hee continued his series on the Kingdom of God, focusing on the attitude and heart of a disciple that Jesus is looking for (Mark 8-10).
“He’s not looking for your works; He’s looking at our hearts,” Pastor Kong emphasised at the start of his sermon. “It is always the inner decisions that each one of us must make.” In Mark 8-10, Jesus talks about love, humility and faith; being gracious, forgiving others, and the commitment and faithfulness to a marriage.
“These are the values and the mindset of one who is under God’s rule,” he explained.
LESSONS LEARNED FROM THE RICH YOUNG RULER
Pastor Kong brought the church to the familiar story of the rich young ruler. Mark 10:17 starts with the young man approaching Jesus asking, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
The pastor noted that this rich young ruler was very religious and sober. He was not only thinking about his possessions in this lifetime but also about his life in the age to come. He came to Jesus looking for eternal life. Jesus’ reply to this young ruler in Mark 10:18-19 was, “You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honour your father and mother.”
“Jesus Christ is always focusing on those four things—no anger, perfect purity, perfect, honesty, perfect love— because they are the evidence of Kingdom righteousness,” Pastor Kong highlighted. The rich young ruler earnestly replied to Jesus that he had kept all those commandments since his youth.
Jesus saw how sincere he was, and the Bible noted that “Jesus looked at him and loved him” (Mk 10:21). It was with love that Jesus challenged the young man to make a radical decision for the Kingdom of God—to sell all his possessions and follow Jesus. When he heard what Jesus said, “the man’s face fell. He went away sad because he had great wealth.” (Mk 10:22)
“Jesus looked deep straight into his heart and saw something holding him back from following God wholeheartedly,” Pastor Kong expounded. This rich young ruler was blessed tremendously by God with great possessions and prestige, but he had grown too attached to them; riches and wealth were now his idols.
At this point, Pastor Kong made it clear that Jesus was not saying that being poor was a criterion to follow God. “What Jesus saw in him was a barrier he had to remove if he wants to follow Christ,” the pastor explained. “Anything—be it wealth, career, family—which stands in the way of your decision to follow Jesus Christ wholeheartedly becomes a barrier and must be removed.”
He also warned that it is easy to seek worldly possessions and prestige in the guise of “wanting to shine for Jesus” but actually desiring them out of greed and covetousness. Jesus taught His disciples to beware of the deceitfulness of riches, Pastor Kong explained, “Because the richer you become, the more [riches] become your security, and the more fearful you are on losing them.”
Blessings from God are good but Christians must be careful not to allow their wealth, position and ambition to command their affections and loyalty, Pastor Kong said. He emphasised a decision must be made between personal ambition and God’s will.
“If you choose personal ambition and self-advancement, then your love for God and for the things of God will begin to wither away,” the pastor warns, elaborating that the rich young ruler was not seeking after the righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, which was why he was not experiencing the Kingdom of God.
“That’s why he was so dissatisfied. Deep inside, he couldn’t find inner contentment, and it was this inner frustration that brought him to Jesus Christ, to ask Him about eternal life,” Pastor Kong added. “But when Jesus told him his only option, he made a bad decision.”
His unwillingness to choose God over his riches cost him his relationship with God. “Every interest in life must be secondary and subservient to the rule of God, to the Kingdom of God,” declared Pastor Kong. “But God cannot force you into this, it is really up to you.”
WHAT IT MEANS TO TAKE UP YOUR CROSS DAILY
“Sometimes, the Kingdom of God may even cost a person his very life,” the senior pastor continued, reading Luke 9:23 where Jesus instructed His disciples to “take up their cross daily and follow me.”
Cross-bearing is not simply taking up a burden. A cross is an instrument of death. “Jesus cannot rule your life until you count yourself dead, crucified. Only when I take up my cross daily, can Christ really rule,” he explained.
“We see this principle of cross-bearing in the life of one of our pastors, Bobby Chaw,” said Pastor Kong. Pastor Bobby grew up in a wealthy family. When he chose to be a Christian in his youth, his parents almost disowned him. Later, when his family faced severe financial difficulties, Pastor Bobby’s parents had expected him to help with the family’s burden by getting a well-paying job after he had graduated. However, God spoke to him to give his life to serve in church full-time, in the missions department, which would take him away from his family in Singapore for months on end.
It would have been reasonable if Pastor Bobby had chosen to hold off on God’s call to help his family. He could also have chosen to serve in a different department in the church office. But Pastor Bobby made the radical decision to follow the call of God and trusted that He would take care of his family and relationships.
Ultimately, God slowly led his family members to Christ and restored their relationship. Not only has the family become free of their financial troubles, Pastor Bobby is also now the executive pastor of CHC, overseeing many key areas of its operation.
“But before all these great things could happen to him, he first had to make a radical decision,” Pastor Kong highlighted, “a decision that involved surrendering his greatest human affection: his love for his family.”
CHURCH WITHOUT WALLS
The church watched the video testimony of Trustin Neo and his wife, Liu Jia. Their baby girl, Ona, was born in 2019 and when she was 6 months old, the doctors discovered tumours growing in her eyes. She was diagnosed with eye cancer and needed to undergo chemotherapy. They also had to make sure that cancer had not spread to the rest of her body.
The couple was gripped by fear but their cell group members supported them during the difficult season. They supported them with prayer and financial assistance. Thankfully, the chemotherapy worked, and the doctors did not have to remove her eyeballs.
“There are so many families struggling with cancer out there. Having our church family journey together with us is very important,” Trustin said.
With this, Pastor Edmund Tay introduced a new initiative under Church Without Walls, reaching out to people suffering from cancer. He shared that the Cancer Care Group aims to provide practical help, financial aid, and create a support group for cancer patients and their caregivers.
Next, the church heard the testimony of Helen Gianchand and Sabel Dela Cruz. Helen came to Singapore to work in 2007. She came to CHC upon her friend’s invitation and became a cell group leader in 2010. When she was studying in CHC’s School of Theology, she was so impacted by the word that she started reaching out to her fellow Filipinos working in Singapore.
When she saw a group of domestic helpers sitting around in church one day, she reached out to them and started giving them Bible study. They soon joined the church services and cell group meetings and experienced the blessings of God.
One of them was Sabel. As a child, she was abused physically and verbally. Her mother would often say that she was not her child and that caused her to question her own identity. Still, she would send money home to her family when she started working as a domestic helper in Singapore, hoping to support them financially.
Sabel’s employers brought her to CHC and she eventually joined Helen’s cell group. In 2020, Sabel found out that she was indeed an adopted child. She felt rejected by her family and her birth mother. Helen and her cell group members stood by her side and she felt their love—just like a family. She was set free from her bitterness and forgave her family. Sabel is now serving as a connect group leader in the Filipino ministry, sharing her story to encourage many others.
Johann Sim, a pastoral supervisor, took the stage next to share about Our Fellow Workers, an initiative that aims to reach out to low-wage migrant workers in Singapore. In light of the current pandemic, many of these workers are not able to return home and are even placed in isolation. This ministry aims to reach these workers by befriending them and providing practical help to them.
If you wish to be part of Church Without Walls in CHC’s outreach to the needy, please contact your cell group leader or sign up via www.chc.org.sg/cww.