Categories
Pastor's Sharing

What Does the Church Have to Do with “Company”?

What Does the Church Have to Do with “Company”?

By Rev Arnold Chow

December 4, 2022

As members of NPAC, I believe you and me in the past have had no need for a long time to handle any statutory matters of the church. Other than getting an annual receipt for our tithe and offering from the church to claim tax exemption, our church life seems to have nothing to do with a limited company.

As a matter of fact, Christian & Missionary Alliance (C&MA) Hong Kong has, for a long time, been operating as a limited company and charitable organization with the aim of advancing evangelism, mercy ministries and social services locally, as well as overseas mission work.

During the 1950s, mainland missionaries moved to Hong Kong and so C&MA started to develop in a number of areas here. NPAC was one of the churches established at that time. At the end of the 1950s, as led by the Alliance Mission, a number of churches set up the Church Union. In order to localize, the Church Union registered with the government as a limited company in 1968. All properties of the member churches were then transferred to the Church Union.

So “corporatization” is nothing new. It is only that in the past, the Church Union has been taking up legal matters at the limited company level, including opening bank accounts and purchasing church premises so that member churches can focus on pastoring and evangelism.

This structure has been used by God to facilitate the steady growth of C&MA in the early days. In 1983, the number of member churches has grown to more than 40. The Church Union’s Executive Committee Chairman then, Rev Philip Teng, laid down a 10-year church-planting plan for C&MA Hong Kong (which was later updated with growth targets were extended). On the eve of year 2000, the number of member churches already grew to 93, and it reached 120 in 2021. Besides, under C&MA is various organizations such as a publishing house, a mission agency, a social services centre, etc. It has also founded 10 kindergartens, three primary schools and one secondary school.

Just by looking at the number of member churches and organizations under the Church Union’s purview, we will understand its heavy workload involved operating as a single limited company as it also has to coordinate the administration, accounting and property management work, etc., of member churches and organizations. In compiling the annual consolidated financial report, for example, the Church Union has to collect and integrate data and information from more than 100 autonomous churches and organizations. It is no easy task.

Meanwhile, since all member churches come under the same limited company, it is possible that any member church can get legal liability for litigation arising from other member churches, with the risk of having its premise properties seized by claim. It can be seen that the centralization of all resources under one limited company has both advantages and disadvantages.

As the social environment becomes increasingly complicated, the Church Union decided last year to have structural reorganization within the denomination. At the same time, it encourages member churches to corporatize. Simply speaking, the move will see the restructuring of a single registered limited company comprising over a hundred member churches and organizations as more individually registered limited companies.

Thanks be to God, the company registration application of NPAC has been approved. We have also obtained charitable organization status recently. Later, I will share with you the transitional arrangements and progress.

Categories
Pastor's Sharing

Advent: Preparation in Hope

Advent: Preparation in Hope

By Rev Doh Chuan Ning

November 27, 2022

Year after year, many churches plan worship services, personal devotionals and Bible reading according to the Church Year and the deeds of Jesus Christ on earth to help believers remember and relive the experience of the saving grace of Jesus Christ and “connect with the Lord” more deeply in daily life. Advent (meaning “coming”) is the first festival of the church year. It is a “preparation period” to prepare hearts in anticipation of the birth of the Lord Jesus (First Advent). It is also a “waiting period” as we look forward to His second coming (Second Advent). Therefore, in addition to remembering the birth of Jesus, Advent also reminds us to prepare ourselves to meet the Lord.

Advent starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve. During Advent, some churches put up an “Advent Wreath” in accordance with tradition to guide believers. The wreath has three purple candles, one pink candle and one white candle. The church would light one candle each Sunday (the purple candles would be lit on the first, second and fourth Sundays and the pink candle on the third Sunday). This is to signify that the return of Christ is getting closer and closer. On Christmas Eve, the church would light the big white candle in the middle of the wreath, signifying that Jesus (the light of the world) has come to us. The light of the candle symbolizes the light of Christ. The light comes to the world, dispels darkness and shines on “those living in darkness and in the shadow of death” (Luke 1:79).

Traditionally, the church designates four themes for the four Sundays in Advent (which vary slightly among different traditions) to guide believers to prepare themselves. The theme for the first Sunday is “Awakening.” This is because nobody knows when Christ will return. We must always be prepared, reflect on our lives and deeds to see if we have done anything wrong or trespassed against God. The second Sunday would be themed “Repentance.” When we understand our trespasses, we should sincerely repent to God and rectify the wrong, actively improve ourselves and regulate the part of our life that is off-track. The third Sunday is “Joy.” We rejoice not just because we have experienced the birth of Christ for our sake so we are freed from sin, but also because we are living with the good news that “the Lord is near” and so we should await His return with hearts of joy and eager expectation. The fourth Sunday is “Love and Light.” We welcome the birth of Jesus Christ with joy and delight. He has brought us love and light. We should also give thoughts to practicing the will of the LORD in our daily lives, to bring love and light to the world.

Advent says a lot about the meaning of faith as well as tradition and culture. It also prepares our spiritual lives. Through reflection on our lives, believers engage in purification of the self and wait devoutly for the return of Christ. Advent also helps us focus on the work of salvation of Christ’s coming, so we can once again receive and take part in the Savior’s redemption work to bring faith, hope and lovingkindness to this era when truth is distorted and black and white is confused. May this Advent be a time you will encounter the gracious Lord, connect with Him more deeply and renew your commitment to Him.

Categories
Pastor's Sharing

Theological Education: A Collaborative Effort among Churches and Seminaries

Theological Education: A Collaborative Effort among Churches and Seminaries

By Rev Wayne Cheung

November 20, 2022

The Theological Education Sunday every two years at NPAC is aimed at encouraging brothers and sisters to seek God’s will on whether he/she is called to serve as full-time ministers and to get equipped in seminaries. Meanwhile, the church also wishes to take the opportunity to promote theological education. We encourage brothers and sisters to take appropriate Bible or theology courses to know God more fully and for serving Him. This is to “equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (Ephesians 4:12).

Small as it is, Hong Kong nevertheless provides many seminaries and Christian training institutions. Since the middle of the last century, various kinds of theological training have been flourishing, grooming large numbers of local pastors and missionaries. They also train up full-time and tentmaking Kingdom workers who suit the needs of the times for local and overseas Chinese populations. The seminaries and institutions also train up church leaders and lay believers. They become a blessing for our churches, the workplace and Christian organizations, and have advanced the development of theological education.

You may ask: Isn’t the church done with its mission just by sending appropriate believers to seminaries to be trained as future pastors and church leaders? Now theological education is not installation work as in factories. We should not think that we only need to send people to be “processed” and then we can produce some sort of workers suited to the needs of the market. On the contrary, theological education should be training on both life and skills. It should also address the complexity and drastic changes of the era.

This is why we need even closer collaboration between churches and seminaries so that future pastors and church leaders can respond more effectively to contemporary pastoring ecology and needs upon completion of equipment and training. To achieve this goal, churches have five practical tasks:

First, churches should make a greater effort to encourage believers to serve, use their gifts and, in the process, learn to work with God. This will help them discern God’s calling in the course of their lives.

Secondly, pastors and church leaders need to walk with those who serve, providing timely spiritual, emotional and practical support as well as prayers so that they will realize the importance of “close pastoring” as well as teaching by example. When these committed believers serve regularly, pastors should suggest appropriate training or theology courses for them to attend so that they can reflect on and more fully integrate their ministry experience, life of faith and their biblical and theological knowledge.

Thirdly, for those committed to nurturing others’ lives, pastors can help them with spiritual direction and discernment. On the one hand, pastors can continue to support them, walk with them and watch over them. On the other hand, pastors can recommend them to join the church’s Dedication Group where they can more concretely discern whether God calls them to serve as pastors.

Fourthly, pastors can help believers who are prepared to receive full-time training to know various seminaries and Christian training institutions more. This will help them make a choice after God’s heart when responding to His call.

Finally, for seminarians, pastors should continue to watch over them while at the same time encourage them to share their personal experiences with those after them. That way, they would contribute to the efforts in passing on the legacy regarding equipping for faith as well as theological education to build up the body of Christ together.

Categories
Pastor's Sharing

Control Yourself “More and More”

Control Yourself “More and More”

By Rev Arnold Chow

November 13, 2022

I remember once when I played Pictionary (a drawing riddle game) with my family, I picked an answer which says “Pay TV.” So I drew a dollar sign and a TV set. My wife quickly came up with the correct answer for the riddle. But my kids asked: “What is that?” It turned out that the board game we had was the version 20 years ago. Pay TV similar to Cable TV were there but now such services have been replaced by video streaming services.

Video streaming audio-visual platforms have a lot to offer. Not only are there new productions but many old drama series are also on offer. When you look back at the old drama series after watching the new ones, do you notice that other than the differences in video resolution, plot and costume, the inter-personal relationships exhibited in contemporary drama series are more complicated? Even messy male-female and marital relationships are treated as normal. The truth is that contemporary productions reflect the reality of society to a certain extent: when people are getting increasingly confused about love and lust, unfaithfulness and improper behavior are treated as normal.

In the Greco-Roman culture which the early church was situated in, marriage was regarded as a means to retain wealth and power. People were also accustomed to “passionate lust” (1 Thessalonians 4:5), which was seldom criticized by public opinion. But the Bible exhorts believers: “In this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins...” (4:6). Improper behavior disregards oneself and the family of the other person. It is selfish and greedy. “The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins”! On the negative side, this is a stern warning for believers. The “punishment” points to both the final judgment as well as the terrible consequences in this life arising from such behavior. We must be careful.

On the other hand, the Scripture reminds believers: “… we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more” (4:1). That is to say, believers need all the more to take the initiative to actively “learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable” (4:4).

I have a friend who is a fan of fantasy fiction of the Middle Ages. When he learned that a large video streaming platform is making a film version of a famous novel, he was filled with expectations. He watched the first episode and saw how grand the film version was. Yet, he also found that many unnecessary scenes of lust were added to the film. His conclusion was: I had better go back to the clean, original novel.

For sure, the Holy Spirit will work in the lives of believers, but we must also strive to control ourselves. These two aspects are not mutually exclusive. Rather, they complement each other. The Holy Spirit had reminded this friend of mine, and he had also controlled himself “more and more.” May we admonish one another: Keep and maintain our relationship boundaries and work hard to keep watch over our own body and heart, and “further” protect the family and relationships God has blessed us with.

Categories
Pastor's Sharing

Pass On the Legacy and Bring Forth the New by the Word of Life

Pass On the Legacy and Bring Forth the New by the Word of Life

By Rev Maggie Tang

November 06, 2022

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.  The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.  We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.  We write this to make our joy complete.” (1 John 1:1-4)

The Apostle John had indeed lived a life inheriting the legacy and bringing forth the new. From his youth when he was called by Jesus beside the Sea of Tiberias to his old age when he wrote “The revelation from Jesus Christ” in the Book of Revelation (1:1), John has entered new horizons ever since he came to know Jesus. He turned from a professional fisherman to an apostle spreading the gospel of Christ. He began as an apprentice, acquiring a new perspective and receiving a new mandate from Jesus. Then he became a teacher, proclaiming to people “what we have seen and heard.” Shouldering the task of passing on the legacy, he passed on to believers after him Jesus’s teachings.

Though we are of a different background, time and space than the Apostle John, we share the same journey of faith that inherits the legacy and brings forth the new. This reminds me of the cartoons I watched when I was young: Ordinary boys would imagine themselves becoming superheroes who punish the wicked and the evil, and typical girls would imagine themselves turning into beautiful and good magical angels. They all think of themselves transforming into a brand-new identity totally different from their original one. Now transformation is not that impossible after all. It really is what believers would experience. They receive a new life with new power to live like Christ. Then, just like the Apostle John, we pass on the Word of life to others. As members of the community of believers, we shoulder the responsibility of passing on the legacy so new generations in the spiritual family can share in the fellowship we have with the Father and the Son Jesus Christ.

As a member of the big NPAC family, you and I have the bountiful grace that Christ our Lord has prepared for us for our passing on of His legacy and bringing forth the new. This is because the seven spiritual legacies of NPAC are our foundation to do so: 1) God gives grace to the humble; 2) Work together in harmony, respecting each other; 3) It is more blessed to give than to receive; 4) God is the centre of everything; 5) Teaching the truth is our basis; 6) Offering by faith; and 7) Love our church. These legacies drive NPAC people, be they here or overseas, online or offline, to insist on worshiping the LORD. Let us pray courageously to the LORD that He may give NPAC shrewdness and wisdom to explore evangelism and pastoring opportunities, and with the love of the Lord, nurture new generations of believers so that we would live out the likeness of Christ at home and in the workplace in this generation.

Categories
Pastor's Sharing

But the End is Still to Come

But the End is Still to Come

By Rev Arnold Chow

October 30, 2022

From time to time, people would ask me, “When will the church teach about ‘the end times’ again?” Their question has probably been triggered by what happened in the past few years: social movement, pandemic and war. At the time of writing, there are ongoing international conflicts. The world economy is on the verge of disarray. In times like these, people feel the pressing need to take faith seriously in the hope of knowing the way forward.

After entering Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, Jesus’ disciples asked Him: “…what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3) Jesus did not tell the disciples the exact date of His second coming, but He reminded His disciples to “watch out” (v.4 and v.6). In the original language, this word also means “see.” Jesus wants us to pay attention, to see clearly, not to be “alarmed” or deceived! This is because “For many will come in my name…” (v.5). They will claim to be the Savior, bringing false hope to the people.

As a matter of fact, the early church was faced with a lot of turbulence. According to literature, some Samarians at that time attacked the Jews, and the Jews also fought among themselves. Meanwhile, the Roman Empire was actively expanding while at the same time eliminating revolutionary elements. Internally, governors, provincial heads, generals, kings, etc. who belonged to different parties were pointing fingers at each other. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. These things happen every so often. No surprise.

My teenage years are in the tempestuous times of the nineties. Within a few years, a number of major incidents took place in the international arena. With limited knowledge of the Bible then and seeing the many wars and woes, I thought to myself: Well, the end of the world may just not be that faraway. So, I seriously waited for the return of Christ. But the word of the Lord woke me up: “But the end is still to come” (v.6b)!

When then will the Lord return? There is an anecdote about Dr A B Simpson. Back then, he was quite famous in New York. Even the journalists of The New York Times were watching him closely to see if they could capture anything novel for them to write about in the paper. Once he preached about the return of Christ. He was asked by a journalist afterward: “Dr Simpson, can you tell us when exactly Christ will return?”

Dr Simpson replied: “Just give me your word that you will put my reply in full and in its exact words in your article, and I will tell you when Christ returns.” Immediately, the journalist agreed. Then, Dr Simpson replied: “Matthew 24:14 says ‘And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.’ That will be when Christ comes back.” Since the reporter had made his promise, he put the reply, word for word, in the newspaper so that the truth about the Lord’s second coming was declared.

Today, even though the world is full of troubles, the command of the Lord still applies: Do not be alarmed; do not be deceived; do not spend energy chasing the signs. But put our effort into preaching the gospel at home and abroad. I think this is the most appropriate response to the end times.

Categories
Pastor's Sharing

Anniversary: Recount God’s Works, Remember God’s Grace

Anniversary: Recount God’s Works, Remember God’s Grace

By Rev Samuel Tam

October 23, 2022

Throughout the anniversary month, we praise God’s Holy Name and give thanks to Him for His gracious guidance with joyful hearts. With the responsive Scripture reading, candle-lighting as well as thanksgiving and grace-seeking prayers of the anniversary worship service, the church has provided brothers and sisters with opportunities to “remember God’s grace, commit and pray.” Meanwhile, in the afternoon of the Anniversary Sunday, a thanksgiving meeting on the theme “A Date with the Family of 70” was held. During the meeting, we could see that God has used a lot of ordinary people who offered themselves according to the grace given by God to build up the NPAC family in different roles. After listening to their testimonies, we are all the more united in offering our thanks to God.

Are we aware that brothers and sisters of different generations of NPAC have all received rich blessings from God? I think it is indeed a very meaningful training of faith for us to count God’s blessings as one corporate body during the anniversary. Not every brother or sister has the habit of recounting the happenings at NPAC, but I really think we should follow the example of ancient Israeli tribes to “set up stones of remembrance.” This lets people know that God has always been helping them. It also lets future generations know the LORD’s might and works so that they might always fear Him (Joshua 4:1-24; 1 Samuel 7:12).

The prophet Isaiah, too, has exhorted us to remember the former things, those of long ago because they are proof that God abides with His people and also their source of motivation to follow Him. It is true that there is no other god on earth who can compare with the God we believe in. Our God has upheld and carried us since our birth and He will not change even to our old age and gray hairs. His purpose for the end will stand and He will do all He pleases (Isaiah 46:3-5, 9-10). Therefore, if we can remember His past and present blessings for the NPAC family, we will believe unswervingly that He is the source of grace, the One who blesses. And as long as we do not claim merit for ourselves or be arrogant, we will definitely see His hand of grace in our church life.

The traces of God’s works of grace in the past 70 years are everywhere. This Sunday afternoon, we will have a rare opportunity to learn about NPAC’s spiritual legacy through photos and videos. I believe you have often heard sayings like “Only the meek will receive grace”, “In harmony and unity respect one another”, “It is more blessed to give than to receive”, “Be God-centered in all that we do”, “Be established in the truth”, “Faith offering pledge” and “Love our church.” They are all actions to be put into practice based on the teachings in the Bible, which have now become the “faith values, blueprint for growth, and ministry direction” of NPAC to which we attach much importance. It is also the reason why we continue to be blessed by God’s grace. May we all try to “listen and carefully observe” why and how this spiritual legacy came about. May we discover the precious meaning in there so we can be ones who would remember God’s grace, testify His grace before others and give God glory.

Categories
Pastor's Sharing

Be Grateful for Grace, Seek Grace, Give Grace and Receive Grace

Be Grateful for Grace, Seek Grace, Give Grace and Receive Grace

By Rev Gordon Siu

October 16, 2022

God loves to bless His children “abundantly” and even with “grace upon grace.” God does not want us to be content with just what we have received and not to seek the full measure of His grace.

After the Israelites had entered Canaan and taken some of the promised land, they were unwilling to proceed any further as they had obtained some basic security and satisfaction and were scared of their formidable foes. Joshua reprimanded them: “How long will you wait before you begin to take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your ancestors, has given you?” (Joshua 18:3) God very much wants to give us all of His spiritual blessings. But if we take grace lightly, thinking it will somehow be given and do not actively seek it, then we will still not receive it.

The Bible says, “You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:2b-3). The receipt of grace must start with prayer. But prayer is not a condition for grace. It is to make the person who prays open himself up to God and express his longing for blessings and confidence in the promises of God. God has invited Solomon to take the initiative to ask for grace after his wholehearted sacrificial offering: “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” Solomon only asked for wisdom so that he could “judge your people” for the benefit of the people. The Bible says, “The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this.” The Lord even gave him what he had not asked for — wealth and honor (see 1 Kings 3:1-15). This is the Old Testament version of “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

A secondary school teacher thanked God for his teacher qualification and the ability to teach. Then he asked for God’s grace: “Give me, Lord, the class of which I am head teacher!” Then by faith, he made use of various channels to bring his students to the Lord. Another brother earnestly longed for his faith in God to strengthen and that he would better learn to rely on the Lord and lift up His name in all matters in daily life. He fervently asked God for His grace in these. Later, he met with some unexpected obstacles but he deeply learned to trust in the Lord under all circumstances. Yet another person sought the grace to better serve the Lord during his prime; and one other asked for the grace to love the Lord more during the remaining time of his life… Supposing the Lord asks you today: “Ask for whatever you want me to give you,” what would you ask for?

When one knows how to be grateful, it is then that he would know he should ask for grace. In the wilderness, the Israelites kept complaining that they were being ill-treated by God. Their “prayer” was really to test God and challenge God. If we in poverty and difficulties can still see God’s abundant blessings, our faith will definitely be strengthened in thanksgiving. We will also have the courage to ask for more grace, not just for what we need but also for being able to give out the grace received. This was exactly what the Macedonian churches did: “In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity (grace)” (2 Corinthians 8:2). They were grateful for grace and they sought grace, and they gave out grace and received more grace.

 

Categories
Pastor's Sharing

Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit

Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit

By Rev Jenny Ching

October 2, 2022

A sister on wheelchair recently said to me: “I found that lately I have been jealous of others. Our group leader who used to sit with me all the time has been sitting with a brother with greater needs than me ever since he returned to the fellowship. So, our group leader cannot accompany me anymore and I found myself getting jealous of him. I know I shouldn’t as he really has greater needs than I do. I want to confess my sin to God and to the brother!”

I appreciate the sister’s candidness. She has dealt with her sins seriously, which is good. However, jumping to confession too early would perhaps cause us to miss a good opportunity to know ourselves. Confessing and asking oneself not to be jealous before knowing what is really happening inside or taking care of the inner needs has probably added to the sister’s psychological pressure. I asked her, “How do you feel when the group leader cannot accompany you?” She said, “I feel lonely and unhappy… I think my need for others’ company is a shame…” I asked whether she was willing to ask the Lord Jesus to first comfort and heal her loneliness and unhappiness because of this change and she said yes. Then, we talked about “not being jealous.” The sister said she wanted very much to do that but she could not. I told her that there are also many things that I want to do but I cannot. But we are not hopeless because we can ask the Lord Jesus for the grace of transformation. It is not possible on our own but with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). Having asked for grace, we can then patiently await the Lord’s transformation. With the sister’s consent, we prayed. The sister looked relaxed after the prayer. Thank the Lord for meeting her inner needs.

What happened to this sister made me think of the book, Poverty of Spirit by Johannes Baptist Metz. Through Christ’s becoming man, the author tells us that the real nature of humanity is poverty in spirit. Jesus is a perfect man, but He made clear to us that there was nothing He could do but to always make Himself nothing, and rely and obey the Father (Philippians 2:6-8). That was how He could live and work miracles. That was how He could complete the tasks of His life entrusted to Him by the Father. The author also exhorts us to be like Christ and admit and accept that we are poor in spirit. We must not be misled by what Satan tells us and think that we can control everything like God. We need to know the truth – same as Jesus, there is nothing we can brag about before God. Even our being able to admit our poverty of spirit would require help from the Father.

Nevertheless, Jesus has promised us that blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 5:3). When we admit our spiritual poverty before the Father and admit there is nothing we can do, that would be the time when we can experience the coming of the Heavenly Kingdom. The sister I mentioned above has experienced the Lord’s comfort and healing. Her heart is relieved by the care of the Lord Jesus. I trust that at the time designated by God, she will no longer be jealous from the bottom of her heart.

Categories
Pastor's Sharing

More Love

More Love

By Rev Arnold Chow

September 25, 2022

“I hope we’ll have more love in the NPAC family,” one member expressed this wish when we chatted about the 70-year-old NPAC family. This remark stirred up thoughts in me for quite some time.

There is no lack of discussion about love in this generation. In the love songs I heard when I was growing up, “love” was usually portrayed as mutual delight in one another, the feelings of I liking you and you adoring me. The most moving ones are often those about the imagined feelings of unrequited, unattainable love when looking back to the old days. More recent lyrics even simply reduce love to passion and desire. When we grow older, we are not as easily bothered by matters of love. But do we have myths or misconceptions about love as a result of how it is shaped by popular culture and defined by the mass media?

In the spiritual family, is “love one another” simply considered as a kind of very touching or passionate atmosphere? Love that is based only on feelings will not go far nor will it be sustained.

The Apostle John has said: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” (1 John 3:16)

The Lord sacrificed Himself on the cross and became the role model of love. The Greek word for “love” is agape, which is translated by some as “willing to lay down oneself.” This is most appropriate. The Father was “willing to lay down Himself” and let His only beloved Son sacrifice for us. The Son was “willing to lay down Himself” and give His life for us. Because of God’s love, we would know how to love others in His truth.

While the church should be warm and friendly, the kind of unique love mentioned above should all the more be manifested in us because we have received “God’s love.” In other words, “love one another” is not confined to warm gatherings, reciprocal friendship or a culture of mutual tolerance and understanding.

To love one another, we cannot avoid following the example and practice of Jesus who willingly went for the cross. Indeed, it is far from easy to lay down one’s perceptions and interests and give oneself for others. However, since Christ died for us, and with such love, we are empowered with the motivation to be “willing to lay down ourselves.” It depends on us as to whether we would choose to imitate Christ and put others before ourselves.

In the New Testament, phrases with the word “agape” appear 310 times, and one-fifth of them, that is 62 times, are found in the epistles of John. We can see that John taught this in response to the needs of the contemporary church. In the sermons of the fourth quarter of the Anniversary Year, we will give more thoughts to “God’s love.” From the second half of October, through studying 1 John, we would know that with our lives being lit up by God’s love, we can live our lives with more love in a generation full of estrangements.

The hope by the church member at the beginning of this sharing is one which I very much agree to. Dear NPAC family, blessed birthday! It is my hope that in the days and years to come, we will make strides in loving God and loving man.