Sunday, 23 April 2017

The Sabbath after the City Harvest..

There is a time for everything. There is a season for trial, for reflection and for learning. A life goes through these seasons and draws its own lessons from them.

I have written (or commented) much about Kong Hee and his leadership and it's time for now to put that pen or keyboard to rest. My season of writing about him has come to an end as he starts his sentence last Friday. He will have to confront the next season of his life, and I believe it will be the most challenging one for him.

Before he surrendered himself, Kong Hee said this: "I am ready to face what is to come with the peace and grace of God in my heart."

Well, whatever that awaits him in the years to come, he will have no other choice but to face them - even head on in the quietude of his cell.

More relevantly, he will enter an unfamiliar environment away from the creature comforts he has grown accustomed to. He will also be stripped of a world he was used to where his actions were readily affirmed, his pulpit messages were easily assimilated, and his charisma was wholly electrifying. 

Like an onion, this solitary world will compel him to peel off the complicated layers after layers of motives, intentions and designs he had brought to bear on his leadership in the past seven years so as to reveal the inner core of what he really thought, desired and coveted after when he started the church on the crash course of what is now known ignominiously as the Crossover Project (or the Cultural Mandate).

Nevertheless, on this footing, Kong Hee started off right when he offered his third apology since October 2015. This time, what is most significant is that his apology was not just addressed to his church.

In one paragraph, he acknowledged how he had failed to live up to the calling expected of a fellow believer. He wrote:- 

"To all I have disappointed, stumbled and hurt in my congregation, in the Body of Christ at large, and in the public, I am truly sorry. I have made unwise decisions in the past that have led me to where I am today. I am filled with grief and regret over my mistakes and I sincerely ask for your forgiveness."

With that apology, it is time to move on. It is time to heal, to reconcile and to unite. For this reason, I see no point in flogging a dead horse, or to dissect his apology into smithereens just to see whether there is any stray pieces of insincerity or pretentiousness left to render blunt.  

As for the rest of us, all those who stood by the sideline to watch the drama unfold or unravel over the years, I humbly repeat the call of seasonal observance and growth. That is, to observe the season of change from a time of trial to a time of reflection, from a time of denial and disbelief to a time of soul-searching, and from a time of disquiet to a time of quiet, a time of stillness. Each season ought to bring us closer to the Lover of our soul.

Let me therefore end with three events that followed at the heels of our risen Saviour before he declared "It is finished" at Calvary.

The first event talks about an exchange. You'd recall that the crowd clamored for the release of Barabbas instead of Jesus in line with a Passover custom. To me, this exchange is about personal sacrifice, that is, one life for another; and ultimately, Jesus for the lost world.

The second event is when Jesus told Pilate that his kingdom is not of this world. He made it clear that this world was never his home - neither should it be ours.

And the third event is when Jesus pleaded with His Father to forgive the people for they know not what they are doing. It is essentially a call to forgiveness and repentance. It's a time of refreshing and renewal. 

For me, these three defining events mark the enduring legacy of Jesus, that is, sacrifice, eternal hope and forgiveness. And these three legacies are spurred on by love, faith and understanding.

For the more we love, the more we give of ourselves to others. The more faith we have, the more we put our trust in the world that is to come. And the more we understand, the more we can readily forgive. If anything, then let this season be a season of understanding rather than of sowing grievances.

At the end of the day, this should be our disposition as fellow Christians standing together with our fallen brothers and sisters. For regardless of the wrong, the hurt and the failures, this is a season of making amends, comforting and healing broken hearts.

So, I wish Kong Hee (and the other leaders) well as they enter the next quiet season of their life. Like what Kong Hee said before, he is in God's hands now. And I trust that the Master Potter knows how and what to make of His own jar of clay. Cheerz.

Postscript: This is a recent reply to a friend of mine on my Facebook post concerning the plea for us to move forward.

"As much as we would want to pursue the matter, calling into question some gaps in his past, casting some doubts at his leadership (or apology), we also ought to readily embrace a future of hope, reconciliation and a contrite heart.

The protests and calls for accountability can only take us so far, and the rest of our own personal journey will have to be taken with the generosity found in our loving Savior when he put aside all that is wrong with us and heaved his last breath, proclaiming, "It is finished."

In Kong Hee's context, and when he serves his sentence in the years to come, we have to accept by hope, love and faith that God will do a finishing work in him.

Like what he said in his most recent, most comprehensive, and most intimate apology, he is indeed in God's hand now.

Alas, in the last few years, many (including me) have been busy exposing and debating about the wounds of the faith and the flaws of the leadership.

It is therefore time to learn from these lessons, apply it to our lives and move on, that is, move forward.

I guess the greatest lesson we can learn from this most unfortunate saga is that given the right time, circumstances and power, we ourselves will also be tested. We therefore share something in common with Kong Hee - our own vulnerability."

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