While mankind yearns for the superpowers of gods, the all-powerful, all-knowing God took on the identity of mankind when He came on the earth. In last weekend’s sermon, Pastor Aries Zulkarnain unpacked the reason why Jesus came.
If you can have one superpower, what would it be? What kind of superhero would you want to be? Aries Zulkarnain, CHC’s executive pastor did a poll with these questions at the start of last weekend’s service on Dec 4 and 5.
The poll results showed that most of the congregation wanted to be Superman and Wonder Woman and to be able to control time and space.
“We humans, always long and desire to have god-like powers, or to be like gods,” The pastor inferred from the poll results. “On the other hand, our God who is all-powerful, all-knowing and immortal, decided from the very beginning of time to come down to this earth, to become human, to identify Himself with you.”
Philippians 2:5-7 tells Christians that they need to have the same mindset as Jesus in the way they deal with crises and relationships. The mindset of Jesus is explained in V6, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage.”
“This means that Jesus could have come down to earth as Superman, but He didn’t choose to be like that,” Pastor Aries elaborated. V7 continued to say that Jesus took on the nature of a servant, humbling Himself “by becoming obedient to death”.
JESUS CAME TO IDENTIFY WITH HUMANITY
As Christmas approaches, Pastor Aries wanted the church to remember that “Jesus Christ came down to earth to identify with our humanity—in all our weaknesses and human frailty—in order to save us.”
“God wants us to embrace our humanity,” he preached. That means acknowledging one’s weaknesses and limitations as a human, while at the same time surrendering to God and depending on Him.
Pastor Aries shared the story of Joni Eareckson Tada to illustrate his point. At 17, Joni got into an accident that left her paralysed from the neck down. She felt weak and useless in life. As a believer, Joni believed in the power of God to heal her. As she read the story of the four friends bringing a paralysed man to Jesus in Luke 5, she was excited. In V24 to 25, Jesus healed the paralysed man and Joni held on to this verse for her own healing.
However, she did not receive her healing even after attending many healing crusades. In her deep disappointment, she cried out to God and read the passage one more time. This time, her eyes landed on V22 to 24 where Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven”.
“When Joni read this verse, she had a revelation. She realised that her physical disease and ailment were nothing compared to an even more serious disease and ailment on the inside—and that is sin,” Pastor Aries preached.
In V23, Jesus asked, “Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?” Pastor Aries noted that those who read this verse would think that it is easier to forgive than to tell a lame man to get up and walk. Yet to Jesus, the opposite was true. Healing is as easy as saying a word from His throne in heaven—it would not require Him to come down to this earth. But to forgive the sin of mankind, Jesus had to come down from heaven, and identify with mankind so that He can be the worthy and perfect substitute to die on the cross for our sins.
When Joni realised how severe her sin was, she saw that her physical condition was nothing in comparison. From then on, Joni learned to embrace her disability and God’s will for her life, instead of insisting on her own desire for healing. “When she learned to embrace her limitation, she discovered a power greater than the power of healing; and that is the power of depending on God,” the pastor said. “Only when we are weak can God then be strong on our behalf.”
Today, Joni is 72 and she has received numerous honorary degrees and awards. She formed an organisation to inspire people with disabilities and led her life as a quadriplegic, happy and fulfilled. She was able to accomplish so much because she learned the power of depending on God.
“No matter what limitation you have, embrace it and learn to depend fully on God. He can turn your limitation and weaknesses around for His glory and for your good,” Pastor Aries encouraged the church.
THREE BENEFITS WHEN YOU LEARN TO DEPEND ON GOD
He went on to advise the church not to deny their weaknesses or blame God for them. “Most of us don’t want to live our lives depending on someone else; we don’t like to be out of control,” he continued. As a result, people tend to swing to two extremes: to deny their humanity and become super-spiritual, or to get angry with God and reject Him. Yet both extremes are unhealthy and destructive to a believer’s faith.
“God is our designer and He designed human beings to have the need to fully depend on Him,” Pastor Aries taught. When mankind steps out of this design and tries to use something else to fill that void, the thing they use will ultimately enslave them, he explained.
“A Christian is someone who recognises that our real problem is not in achieving independence or freedom from God, but rather, in learning service under the true and a real Master, Jesus Christ Himself,” the pastor said.
“When you have this mindset, you will have many benefits,” he added quoting Philippians 2:5. With this, he shared three of such benefits.
1. YOU WILL DEVELOP HEALTHY CONFIDENCE
Confidence is something that many seek, but Pastor Aries warned that believers ought to be cultivating God-confidence rather than self-confidence. He gave the example of a man looking at a child fall into the deep end of a pool. A trained lifeguard would jump into the pool to rescue her because of his self-confidence. However, an untrained passer-by, who may not be able to swim as well as a trained lifeguard, would jump into the pool after saying a quick prayer—that is God-confidence.
“God-confidence is to have the courage to face anything in life despite your limitation and weakness,” Pastor Aries elaborated. Just like how David faced Goliath in 1 Sam 17—he deflected his fear to God and emphasised that it was God who had the power to defeat the enemy.
Self-confidence will eventually run out, but God-confidence is sustainable (1 Cor 10:12, MSG). Pastor Aries went on to teach that when a believer cultivates God-confidence, his mindset will change and become more positive. He will realise that “no test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face” and “God will never let you down; He’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; He’ll always be there to help you come through it.” (1 Cor 10:13, MSG).
He assured the church that when God is silent in their prayers, it is because He knows that He has given them a test that they will pass. “If you have a healthy confidence in God, you’ll realise that God will never allow you to be pushed past your limit,” he said.
2. YOU WILL DEVELOP HEALTHY HUMILITY
In Matthew 18:1-4, Jesus taught His disciples that healthy humility is like a child—he knows he is limited, so he chooses to depend fully on his parents.
Only accepting one’s weakness without depending on God makes a believer gravitate towards self-pity. On the other hand, having a dependence on God without accepting one’s humanity makes one over-spiritual and out of touch with the world. With that, Pastor Aries went on to his final point.
3. YOU WILL BECOME A CHRISTIAN WITH A BALANCED MINDSET
It is important to be very spiritually minded, yet in touch with one’s humanity. Bringing the church back to Philippians 2, Pastor Aries reminded them that taking the mindset of Jesus has to do with relationships. When one has this balanced mindset of Jesus, one can relate to others well.
He used the example of Job and his three friends. When Job was going through a crisis, his friends tried to counsel him. Yet, Job called them “miserable comforters” (Job 16:2, MSG). This means that they were very spiritual yet out of touch with society. While all of them gave good spiritual advice, they failed to show concern to what Job was feeling on the inside.
“The problem is, none of them asked Job the most important question which was, ‘Are you okay?’” the pastor concluded. They gave many spiritual advice, but they failed to make a human connection and identify with Job’s suffering.
In closing, Pastor Aries reiterated that Jesus came down to earth, to show mankind that even in their weaknesses, they can do great things when they choose to depend on the Holy Spirit. He encouraged the church to adopt the mindset of Jesus and give their weaknesses to Him, so that He can become their strength.