This is the second part of An Open Letter to Heart of God Church. Read Part 1 first if you haven’t.
Okay, where was I again? Ah yes – friends. My friends didn’t love me because they had an agenda or because it was their job. They did it because they genuinely cared for me. Through them, I understood what true friendship means. True friends are not just people you can have fun with, but people you can do life with. True friends talk to you about anything and everything.
They are there in the valleys with you. They are there on the mountaintops with you. They encourage you and propel you towards the best life you can live. True friends are there even when there are no necessary reasons for their presence (school projects, work, common hobbies, etc). At the same time, we all eat, play and laugh with (and at) one another! We make memories we will remember for years to come.
Through these people, I saw what it means to truly belong – what it means to belong to a relationship, what it means to belong to a family. We always say that in church, it is where family becomes friends and friends become family. No wonder Christians call their friends in church their spiritual family. But to me, “spiritual family” isn’t just a nice thing to say. I really see my friends as family.
Just like any good, loving family, they gave me advice on which schools to go to and how to stay positive during my National Service. They taught me how to plan my time better, brought me out, gave me gifts, celebrated my milestones, believed in my dreams, corrected my flaws and spoke faith into my future. They loved me enough to speak the truth and always saw in me potential I never saw in myself.
I gotta be honest, for months, I came to church because of these people. I knew it was out of a good heart that they invited me to church and I didn’t want to reject them. And on top of that, they were awesome to hang out with! But week after week as I heard sermons preached by our pastors and stories of how people’s lives were changed, I had a revelation.
I began to understand that the reason why this people could be so loving to me was because they were first loved by Jesus. They understood and gave others true belonging because they first belonged to Christ. I realized that though these people love me, God loved me even more. Eventually, I couldn’t deny His love any longer, and that is why I became a Christian!
Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world.”John 4:42 (NLT)
Christianity is not just a religion, it’s a relationship – both with God and God’s family. And a relationship is about belonging. I initially came to church because of people, but I stayed till this day because of God. My belonging is no longer just found in Christians, but in Christ; and that is why I want to always belong to Him and His house.
Even after close to 8 years, my character is still being molded every single weekend in church. That is why I think it is important to spend time in God’s Word and presence on a daily basis, but also to spend time with our spiritual family (in and outside of church). We were designed to live in communities. Together, we are stronger.
Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.Hebrews 10:24-25 (NLT)
I am so thankful to have a church I truly belong to. That is why I volunteer in church and give my time, energy and finances. It is my way of giving back to the place, people and Person that first gave so much to me.
But also, I do the things I do because I belong to this family. In a family, if you say that you belong to it and it belongs to you, then it is natural and right to not just receive, but also to give to one another, and to help make the house a better place.
It is the same for church! I do the things I do not because anyone told me I have to, but because I personally want to. In an environment where people live others-centered lives, I can’t help but be inspired to do the same as well. At the end of the day, I guess all these are part of what it means to belong to God, His family and His plan for my life.
Beyond that, serving and giving also helps build my character. Looking back on the past few years, my hope is that I’ve grown to know God’s heart a little bit more, and that I’ve become less selfish and more Christlike. One way to ensure that happens is that I always keep my heart and mind close to God.
It is natural for us human beings to always focus on the things we spend our treasured time and money on. Think about the last time you spent hundreds of dollars on a new gadget, bag or pair of shoes. You just couldn’t stop thinking about it and would even keep it close to you so no one would take it away from you or dirty it, right?
When I give my best to God and to church, it is one way to keep my heart aligned and less focused on myself. It keeps my heart pointed towards God and others. It keeps me close to Him.
To be continued…