At the recent Young Adult Service, Pastors Kong Hee and Sun Ho addressed the struggle young adults face in trying to find balance between seeking God and achieving their goals in life.
City Harvest Church is in a season of “slow-down Christianity”, which is to find that balance in life while putting God first. On the evening of 31 Mar, Senior Pastor Kong Hee and his wife Sun went deep into this topic at the Young Adult Service, offering practical ways in which to do this.
Many of the young adults in City Harvest Church grew up believing that God wants them to shine in the marketplace and be excellent in everything they do. But as they transition into adulthood, many of them are struggling to find a balance between thriving in the marketplace and enjoying a rich spiritual life. Pastor Kong told them that beyond finding the easy yoke and the light burden, slowing down will also help them grow deeper in God.
COMING INTO GOD’S EMBRACE
Pastor Sun elaborated on this by saying that the work of the cross does not stop at forgiveness. The purpose of the cross is to bring Christians into an intimate union with God. She shared a personal encounter that took place during a weekend service, when she had gone up to stage to share a word that God had dropped into her heart during worship. While standing on stage, she felt the intense love of Jesus flowing into her—she could barely hold back her tears back.
She had the same encounter again some months later, at a meeting with the church’s pastoral team. Sun was leading worship when she felt that same intense love of God sweep her away and soon, she was prostrating on the ground, lost in worship. She told the congregation that she really could not use words alone to describe that encounter.
“Every spiritual encounter we have should be a transforming union. Something changes within us, and it brings us deeper into God’s love,” she said as she encouraged the young adults to allow God to give that same encounter to them.
Reading from Luke 14:27, Pastor Kong shared that to be like Jesus, one must bear the cross and share in Jesus’ suffering. To bring the verse into context, he pointed out that the people that Jesus was talking about are those called to be salt and light in the marketplace. Many followers of Jesus were successful and accomplished in their industries, and God did not ask them to give up their wealth or their position of power.
“Neither did God tell them not to work hard or not to be excellent. What God wanted was that they got their priorities right, that they didn’t become overly attached to temporal goods,” Pastor Kong explained.
He continued to read from Luke 14:33: “So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” The senior pastor taught that while God wants to bless them so that they can be successful, He also wants them to be His disciples. To do that means they must learn not to be too attached to the things of this world.
Pastor Sun shared that someone had recently asked her if “slow-down Christianity” was more applicable to older believers. After all, young adults starting out into their careers and their families need to go full throttle. However, Sun pointed out, Jesus Himself was a young adult and no one else exemplifies a lifestyle of silence and solitude better than Him in the Bible.
“Slow-down Christianity is not only about retreating, but also returning,” she elaborated. “The reason why we retreat is so that we can return with greater power and wisdom in the Holy Spirit.” Pastor Sun reminded the young adults that slow-down Christianity is not an excuse to become lazy or overly laid back. It is to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and His rhythm of life and ministry.
To those afraid that they may lose out to others if they were to slow down in life, Pastor Kong encouraged them to have faith and to trust God. He reminded them of the numerous testimonies they have heard in church, of God blessing those who put Him first. Pastor Sun told the young adults not to have the illusion that they can do better than God can. “The best thing you and I can do is to be in partnership with God,” she taught.
RETREAT AND RETURN
In Exodus 34:2, God told Moses to meet with Him on Mount Sinai alone, and “let no one be seen throughout all the mountains. Let no flocks or herds graze opposite that mountain.”
Pastor Kong explained that in Moses’ time, sheep and cattle were blessings from God. In asking Moses to do this, God wanted Moses to detach from blessings, to be in a place of silence, fully engaged in His divine Presence.
Pastor Sun went on to describe her personal silence and solitude experience, teaching the young adults practical ways to go about it. She encouraged them to take one day in a month to switch off all their devices and go to a quiet place alone to spend time with God.
“If, for whatever reason, you can’t find a quiet corner to be in God’s presence, may I invite you to come to Suntec City?” she said, adding that the rooms used for Harvest Kidz during the weekends are open for members to pray and to read their Bible.
“All you really need is your Bible, a notepad or your journal, and a pen,” she said, adding that it would be ideal to spend the entire day with God, from morning to evening. If a full day is too long, the pastors recommend that they spend at least four hours, as it takes some time for the mind to quieten down, in order to engage with God.
Recounting the time he climbed Mount Kinabalu with Pastor Sun, Pastor Kong shared that in order to reach the summit, they had to leave behind as many things as possible. The higher they climbed, the less they could carry with them.
While the things that they are carrying were not bad things—their backpack or extra food—they were things that weighed them down as they climbed. He likened this to the Christian walk: believers must detach themselves and leave behind their earthly desires in order to come into perfect union with God.
In conclusion, Pastor Kong taught young adults about two of the six types of good people derive joy from—temporal and natural. Temporal goods are like riches and status, while natural goods are one’s beauty and talent. Theologian St John of the Cross taught that if one were to fixate on these things, their souls would become tired, weakened, darkened and tormented. These are the things that distract them from their greatest reward—the Holy Spirit.
Pastor Sun added that, while having high goals and expectations are good things, these cannot become a person’s all-consuming passion instead of Jesus. She warned the young adults against striving for their goals at the expense of their children, their families and even God.
The pastors assured the young adults that God wants to give them much more than they realise. If they were to seek God in silence and solitude, their hearts would be awakened to who they are in God and the result of that would be beyond their imagination.
They ended the meeting with an invitation for the young adults to bring to the altar the thing that is standing in their way of growing closer to God. Many young adults responded to the call with tears in their eyes, and placed their lives in God’s hands once again.