Of Saying Sorry
So the City Harvest Church saga is coming to an end. And all the six, including Kong Hee, are being judged to be guilty. For more information, you may read from here.
I have some thoughts regarding this whole entire episode.
Firstly, for Christians, this is not the time to be discouraged. The whole episode cast a dent to Christianity in Singapore but for us, it may be a defeat but we need to be comforted by the fact that this is not the end. In the larger context, the Devil may tempt Christians to become bad testimonies for the Kingdom but this does not change the fact that God has already won the war through Jesus Christ. The Scripture, such as Revelations 19:11-21, promises that Jesus will come back again and when He is back, he will bring forth the final victory over the evil ones who are waging war against Him. The work of the Kingdom, therefore, does not end with what happened with City Harvest but it will continue on, just as how churches have suffered over many years of persecutions and scandals. And this is because of the faithful men and women who remain loyal to God and who maintains a vibrant and dynamic relationship with God, instead of a relationship with their church.
Secondly, for Christians, this is not the time to be judgmental. Many people are confused by what is happening to this leadership team of City Harvest and some Christians whom I know are confused by why Kong Hee claims that God is with him when he has done wrong and they are more annoyed and angry by the fact that Kong Hee did not admit his wrongdoing. Many people are inclined to point the fingers and proclaim that God should not be with Kong Hee and his team. I beg to differ, at the risk of being stoned. God is indeed with Kong Hee and his team, just as how He is with you when you sin. The reason why it does not become a big thing when we sin is because we are not famous enough for the world to make it a big thing. You, as a normal Christian, may create a big deal with your immediate church family if you commit adultery but it will never make international news. But who doesn't want God's presence when they are in the lows of their lives? And if we are indeed sealed by the Holy Spirit as the guarantee of being God's inheritance and receiving God's inheritance (Ephesians 1:13), then obviously we can be assured of His presence when we sin. Theologically, it is not contradictory for Kong Hee and his team to have done wrong with the money from CHC and yet know that God is with them. In such cases, the presence of God is not an authentication for their deeds but an authentication of His grace upon their lives. If anything, they need the presence of God more in their lives than ever. In short, I am separating the issue between their admission of wrong-doing and the presence of God in their lives.
Thirdly, while CHC's case is high profile, it is not representative of what Christianity is. We judge a religion based on its teachings, not based on its abuses, though it is possible to lump both together. While CHC, being one of the largest churches in Singapore, holds a significant portion of the Christian population in Singapore, it is by no means representative of Christianity. This is a sober reminder for Christians to live out the life that God desires for us, through the Scripture, rather than a warning for Christians to exit the church when things get tough. This is a sober reminder also for Christians to be reminded that you are the church, and that it is not "you and the church." We are inseparable from the church and if we feel that what our church is going through is not representative of what the faith is all about, we should perhaps think whether we can do anything to restore the image of Christ in the church. This is an encouragement for those who may feel that their church is such cases and are thinking of leaving the church. It is not helpful to think "the church is not meeting my needs" or "I wish the church is doing this." You are part of the church. You represent the church and stay around to help to build the church.
What happened with CHC is a sad case but it needs not be a hopeless situation. We can only pray that the church in Singapore will grow to maturity and Christlikeness more and more each day as we advance the Kingdom of God in Singapore.