March 11/12, 2023

From the Pastor’s Desk: Rev.Jason Cheung

Dear brothers and sisters of RCAC,

There are two kinds of people you meet in life: those who love you, and those who use you.

Even parents can use their children. Unfulfilled dreams of our past can be burdened onto our children.  Inordinate pressure to be successful in certain vocations, for certain incomes, for certain lifestyles, for certain prestige.

Our supervisors at work may also, at the bottomline of things, be drawing the most productivity out of us.  Nothing wrong with this; efficiency and wise management can be a virtue of stewardship.  But, where is the line between good business and being a good human?

Using people to benefit you, ultimately, is image marring.  The Scriptures attest to God’s design and plan, that each person is created in his image (Genesis 1:27), and if the basic ethic woven in humans is love, then any type of using another is not only unloving, but also harmful.

The vision of the kingdom of God, that Jesus speaks of – and lived out – is essentially a reverberation of the core design of humans: to love God and to love one another.  Love.

Stamped deeper within than our DNA is a desire to be known, and to know the other.  Andy Crouch, in his book, The Life We’re Looking For, begins “Recognition is the first human quest.”  From every infant’s first breath they are searching for a face, to see and be seen.  Crouch writes, “They are looking for a face, and when they find one–especially a face that gazes back at them–they fix their eyes on it, having found what they were most urgently looking for.”

This ‘looking for a face,’ stays with us our entire lives, I believe, because it is part of our ‘image-of-God’ bearing nature.

This is a cornerstone reason why Christians gather together.

Some regard small groups or fellowships or bible studies as one of either social gatherings or for Chrisitian discipleship (or education).  This is true.  But, seeing only these categories assumes the Christian life is fragmented into the social or educational realms.  (We have these same categories for our children)

But, if we rigidly apply this same fragmented framework to discipleship we miss out, and miss out big.  Instead, we are made to face God and face one another – face to face.

At the heart of our faith is a relationship with the Holy, Almighty God – Yahweh, who reveals himself as the Triune God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  And as we learn more of who he is, and how he loves us, and how he created us – “made in his image” – we learn more of who we really are.

So, for those who argue, “I only need God, I don’t need the church (or to fellowship with others)” – not only is this view  theologically shallow, it will lead to a wafer-thin Christian life.

For those who say, “I only need people (brothers and sisters in Christ), and I don’t need to worship God” – the danger here is of idolizing human relationships (or at least, whatever benefits I gain from others).

These views are deficient because, first, both are bent to use the other (God and people) for their own purpose, and second, both neglect Jesus’ command that both loving God and loving others are the most important commandments in the kingdom of God.   Matthew 22:36-40 –

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Sisters and brothers, our church is not merely to be a place for gathering socially.  Neither is it a place only for transcendent worship, reaching into the mystery through Scripture and song.  Our church is for both – gazing into the face of our Lord Jesus, resplendent in glory and grace, and seeing one another, face-to-face, bearers of the image of God, basking in the love of God together.

May the Spirit grow this fruit in us, the fruit of love.

Your servant in Christ,
Pastor Jason Cheung