On the recent CHC saga, I would like to offer my humble two cents worth, as a Christian – not to judge the people involved in the saga – but to correct any erroneous views about Christianity to the public that may have arose through this saga, for the sake of the God I worship.
Firstly, I was surprised that people found this saga surprising. CHC has been known in Christian circles as being a prosperity sideline church for many years now. I know of several people who have dropped out of CHC for that reasons. They went there to seek Jesus but instead received a different gospel from the one they know. Having visited the church a couple of times, I was uncomfortable with the fact that they kept emphasizing giving money.
Tithing to God is definitely important, but what they claim – tithe, and you will get much more financial blessings back in return – is an erroneous way to appeal to the lustful greed in people’s hearts (sort of like gambling and 4D), but not at all biblical. They also constantly back this strange philosophy with many testimonies for people who have prospered financially after giving to the church. The Bible never teaches getting more money as the motivation of tithing. The Bible does say that we will be blessed if we give, but we give to help God’s work, not to expect money in return. Also, the blessings in return may not necessarily be monentary. In China, there are churches where poor believers still tithe every cent from their pocket to fund their church missionaries (who truly need the money and literally risk life limb and jail to preach the gospel). However, they do so, rejoicing in the fact that God’s work can continue, not that they expect to get back money in return!
Secondly, I was surprised at the defensive behaviour of City Harvest members. I thought this issue was about the church’s pastor, and not the church? Initially when the news about Pastor Kong Hee being arrested broke out, I had never felt the church’s name was defamed in any way – neither do I think the public feels this way. The public seems to know the church is the victim not fellow consipirators. However, the overboard reactionary behaviour of CHC members, and not their pastor’s charges, now has made the public eye the church in a disapproving manner. We are not told to put our faith in men, who are untrustworthy, but in God.
The sad thing is that I see the CHC members blindly continuing to profess their faith in Pastor Kong Hee rather than professing their faith in a just God who would let justice, whatever the outcome be, prevail. God taught us to be respectful and submit to authorities because their power is given by God above. Whatever happens, good or bad, is in God’s Will as well. As a Christian, I feel it is disgraceful to see CHC members pushing and shoving and saying nasty things to reporters outside the court to protect their beloved ‘pastor’. What does this convey to the non Christian world, who see us as messengers of God? What impression of the God we profess to worship does it convey to them? Why are they sacrificing their testimony of God to the world, for the sake of a mere man? What lengths would they go to protect their idol?
Christians throughout the ages have been no strangers to going to court and getting into trouble with the law. The difference is that such things normally happen because the authorities has issues with them preaching the gospel. However, to be charged by the law for mishandling God’s money, that is altogether a different kind of ‘persecution’. It is just and honourable for us Christians to be persecuted for righteousness and for God’s sake…but to be persecuted for our own foolishness and sinful behaviour, is just plain shameful. For the former, God is on our side; for the latter, it is His judgment upon a professed ‘Christian’ who continues to disobey him and indulge in sinful behaviour.
The saddest thing I have felt throughout this whole saga is that I have yet to see an apology from Pastor Kong Hee to God and his church members for commiting a wrong. And also that I have yet to see an apology from CHC members to the non-Christian public observers for their ridiculous ruckus outside the court (as well as writing letters alleging their church has been defamed by the authorities??) giving such a flawed testimony of God to the non Christian public observers. The crux of Christianity is to acknowlege we are utterly depraved, sinful and flawed, and calls for true repentance. Christianity without true repentance and confessing of sins is meaningless. We should be unashamed of acknowleging our wrongdoings because doing so will set us free.
According to 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” What is so hard about apologizing? What is this wretched pride (perhaps stemmed from our face-saving culture?) that Pastor Kong Hee is protecting? That his congregation is protecting for him? Is this pride more important than God? Jesus forsake his pride and died shamefully on the Cross. Because of that He was resurrected and given authority over all men, and millions of Christians honour and revere him today and praise Him with our lips. Can’t Pastor Kong Hee and his church do the same?
If not, let humble me apologize to the public on their behalf. I am sorry for the negative impressions Christians in the media have been giving you recently. I know we Christians normally try to convince you to come to church and to show you that God is living inside of us (of that I respectfully will not apologize for as that is what God calls us to know). But sometimes you see our actions going contrary to what we try to show, and for that I apologize. I would like you to know, that true Christians are not necessarily those who say they are Christians with their lips, nor those who do a lot of volunteer and charity work.
True Christians are those who mean what they say, who obey what Jesus says, who worship Him in Spirit and in truth. We Christians may say a million theological words about Christianity to you that you probably think is gibberish, but I would like you to know – indeed – actions speak louder than words. What we do is more important that what we say to you. If ever our actions contradict what we say – if we do not practise what we preach – you are right to label us as hypocrites.
*The above article was contributed to us for publication by the writer. We thank her for taking the effort to write such a well-thought article.