Father God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit exist in a continual circle of love—and Christians can enter into that circle. Last weekend, Pastor Kong Hee taught three ways how.
“I want to share something that I believe is critical in our understanding of God as a church and in your spiritual journey,” began Kong Hee, senior pastor of City Harvest Church on the weekend of 10 and 11 Dec. He explained that the Triune Godhead comprises God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit. They are in a close and loving fellowship with one another. Most importantly, Jesus came to earth to show His people that God is love.
“This means all three of them represent love. Sometimes, people think that the Father and the Son play ‘good cop, bad cop’ and the Spirit is just a bonus reward you get for believing in Christ,” he went on. The Father is often viewed as angry and judgmental while Jesus is full of grace and mercy.
However, this is not how God reveals Himself in the Bible. All three Persons of the Trinity are filled with overflowing love. When one studies the life of Jesus, He is always working in close communion with His Father and the Spirit.
God publicly revealed Himself as a Triune God for the first time at the baptism of Jesus (Mt 3:16-17). He spoke from heaven and openly expressed His love for His Son. Thereafter, the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus and poured out all the love of the Father into Jesus. Through the Spirit and being filled with overflowing love, Jesus obeyed and returned His devotion to the Father.
“The Father loves the Son by the Spirit, and the Son through the Spirit returns His devotion back to the Father and this is the eternal cycle of love,” Pastor Kong explained. This was the first time that God pulled back the curtains and revealed the inner workings of His divine life.
“God is a communal God in an eternally loving, happy, joyful fellowship, a communion between the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, each loving each other and delighting in one another, selflessly giving of themselves to each other,” he added.
God wants to invite His people to experience this divine embrace (2 Cor 13:14) where they can be healed, restored, renewed, strengthened and changed.
The love of God is totally selfless and unconditional. It completely satisfies and overflows with joy, and it gives life meaning and purpose. “It makes us excited to wake up again to live this life because it is a love that transforms us into the likeness of Christ,” the pastor said.
When a believer is completely soaked in the divine embrace and love, God wants them to mimic Him and have an overflowing love to touch the world, and to bring others into this same loving embrace with God.
Salvation is not simply escaping hell and going to heaven, Pastor Kong emphasised. The goal of salvation is to come into the loving embrace of the Triune God; to enjoy and be one with Him where one is continuously transformed by Him.
“If you miss out on this important point, you’ll miss the whole purpose of salvation,” he said to the church. “When we accept Christ as our Saviour, the Holy Spirit brings us into an intimate communion with the Triune God”. This is where God’s love fills the believer and overflows through them as seen in Romans 5:5 “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us”.
It is this love that carries Christians through dark moments (Rom 8:27), on days when one feels weary and burnt out. Love is what convinces believers that their salvation is real, and life with Jesus is worth living for. Love empowers one to live for Jesus every single day and serve others in His name.
Pastor Kong shared three things one needs in order to increase the love within. They are not works of righteousness, but rather, God-pleasing desires that will take one deeper in the experience of the love of God.
1. Zero Anger
Numbers 14:18 says that the “Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love.” This phrase appears nine times in the Bible. God is not easily irritable and angry because He is full of love, or as the verse describes “abounding in love”. Love puts the brakes on any anger, it causes the anger to fizzle away before it builds up further into destruction, said Pastor Kong.
Jesus teaches Christians the same in Matthew 11:29-30 “.. for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light”.
What is the key to working out of God’s rest and with an easy yoke and light burden? Zero anger, stated the pastor.
“If you have zero anger, you will have rest for your soul,” Pastor Kong encouraged the congregation. While he admits that this is not easy, he assured the people that it is possible if one leans on the Holy Spirit.
Giving an example from his personal life, Pastor Kong admitted that his greatest weakness in the past was anger. He used to think that to be a strong leader and visionary meant he had to exert force to get things done. He used his anger as a tool to remind people that he was the boss, causing his staff members to walk on eggshells around him. This behaviour left many of his staffers and disciples hurt and devastated.
Like a rattlesnake that bites itself when cornered and thus, kills itself, when one loses control and goes into a rage, one is also poisoning himself. Each time that happens, a part of their soul dies, said Pastor Kong. Love is the fruit of the Spirit and on the contrary, a foul temper is the fruit of the devil. One becomes a more irritable person each time one gives in to his temper. Even when one has calmed down, the anger inside causes him to become bitter.
“That is how some people become bitter with life and even with God,” he pointed out.
Things changed for Pastor Kong when he read the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:22 (PAR) which say, “Do not be angry!”. When one grieves the Holy Spirit, they are pushing the Holy Spirit away, which also means they are pushing love away.
As he continued to pray and seek for God to help him to deal with anger, and as he remained in the divine embrace of God, bit by bit, the anger fizzled away. The more one is filled with the love of God, the less angry one will be.
2. Constant Forgiveness
Going back to Numbers 14:18, which reads, “the Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving…”, the pastor taught that God is full of love and forgiveness because the two are synonymous. God is forgiving because He is loving.
1 John 4:8 reads, “whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love”. Only when Christians choose to forgive, can God live in them (1 Jn 4:11,16), and only then, His love will be able to grow and transform them.
By choosing to live in constant forgiveness, Christians can continue to occupy the space within the Trinity, to continue experiencing the divine embrace of God.
“You cannot claim to love God and not forgive,” Pastor Kong asserted, quoting 1 Jn 4:20-21. “You cannot claim to have the love of God inside and yet hate somebody.”
While one may have gone through pain and disappointment in life causing them to find it hard to forgive, Pastor Kong encouraged the congregation that Jesus understands and knows what they have been through, and one day, He will make right every wrong that they have suffered. But Jesus still wants them to choose forgiveness, not for the offender’s sake, but for their own sake—to be set free of suffering.
Pastor Kong taught the church that forgiveness is simply a decision one has to make—it does not have to be emotional. “You can forgive again and again every day until the sting of hurt is gone, and the bad memory doesn’t cause you to shudder anymore,” he said.
Jesus also taught His disciples in Luke 6:27-28 to “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who mistreat you”. Jesus wants His believers to keep on blessing others, despite the pain they may have given them.
Only with constant forgiveness can one have zero anger in life.
3. Unlimited Patience
Jesus has unlimited patience (1 Tim 1:16). This was what most impressed Paul about Jesus, and caused him to name the first characteristic of love as patience (1 Cor 13).
“How patient is love?” Pastor Kong asked the congregation. Love bears all things, believes all things, love hopes all things, and endures all things. A patient man or woman is a very powerful person (Prov 16:32). One with unlimited patience is greater than a warrior or a ruler of a city.
Moses was a strong leader and the thing that made him strong was his unlimited patience. His own brother and sister falsely accused him, yet he did not retaliate. He learned to be still and know that He has God.
In the Bible, God speaks of the pearl with great price. Pearls are produced when a particle gets lodged in between the oyster’s flesh and shell. This particle irritates the oyster constantly and yet the pearl does not spit it out. Instead, it secretes a special saliva, nacre, to cover the hurt. Over time, what used to be a particle that caused it to hurt becomes a precious pearl.
Similarly, God never wastes one’s pain. “Whatever grief or suffering you are going through today, if you are patient and deal with it with love and prayer, it will eventually become a precious blessing to you,” the pastor taught.
He encouraged the church to continuously seek God for unlimited patience in any situation they are facing in their lives. He noted that it is not easy, but as one focuses on the unlimited patience of Jesus, he will realise that many of these things are not so important in life.
“The greatest is love and if one has love, he has everything,” says Pastor Kong in closing.
In closing, he explained that the best thing he could do for the church and individuals is to build the church on love, and to teach love because God is love. In the communion of the Triune God, there is restoration, healing and deliverance. One can be whole again if one stays in the divine embrace of God.