In Singapore today, the flashback of City Harvest Pastor Kong’s sermon that God said sorry to him for all his innocent sufferings has sparked a controversy.
Pastor Kong was telling the crowd that he was innocent, and unfairly persecuted by the dogs for the sake of the Gospel yet had to go through this suffering that the church may be glorified just as Jesus was crucified so that we might be saved.
The incident reflects the root of all the issues:
a. We believe that we are the innocent sufferer like Jesus, being of integrity and had abide with all the laws.
b. Like Jesus, even though sinless, we have to bear the sins of others and now at the Cross alone being judged but with no presence of God
c. God is saying sorry because we have to become little messiahs and sacrificed ourselves just like Jesus so that the entire church is lifted up to another level.
d. We are thrown to our enemies just like Jesus being given up to the Roman dog pack tearing him up of clothing, and dignity, until naked at the Cross.
Pastor Kong had wanted to portray the image of an innocent sufferer just like Jesus to the Australians at the Presence Conference in Sydney who may not have been aware that the strong factual evidence has been stacked against Pastor Kong that he has misappropriated at least 25 million.
Pastor Kong was not suffering for the souls of men or for the sake of the Gospel, but for Sun Ho’s secular career at Hollywood for glory and fame which the church had hitherto attributed her success to her own skills and not to any financial church pipeline all the way from Singapore ,Malaysia, and Indonesia.
City Harvest is a church of a 100 million reserve, so they say. What is 25 million! but the sweat of many who has been told that it was for the building fund and the church accounts being properly audited. Many of us are sorry too for putting so much money in.
For Pastor Kong to personify himself as the innocent Messiah at the Cross dying for the sins of the world, undermines the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Yet, who are we to judge for all of us are sinner but Jesus did treat the Pharisees very differently from the outcasts of society for whom are considered sinners.
When we insist on the letter of the law, instead of the grace of God, all we are left is the judgement we deserved. God is not a hard God, but full of love, grace and mercy. He doesn’t desire justice but mercy. We are not innocent, yet the grace of God covers us not because we are of integrity but because of Jesus Christ.
At the end, it is all of Christ, and not of us. We are to have a contrite heart that God’s grace and mercy may be our salvation and His love our banner and strenght.
God does say sorry in the bible but it is usually of regret that the events had turned out badly even though it started well, example Saul being the King had so much potential. It was not because that God regretted that Saul had to suffer and ultimately die.
Once we are rich and of power and control, we think that we deserve all the wealth and good fortune because of who we are and forgetting that it is all by God’s grace. We ain’t deserving of anyting and often we are at the right time and the right place because of good fortune or because of the grace of God.
For example, in Singapore, the boy born to a poor family is no greater sinner than a boy born to the rich family whose career is all set before him with a Raffles Institute secondary education and a good degree from the National University in computer science.
The person from the poor family may not even affort basic schooling let alone a university degree. He will need the grace of God, but the boy from the rich family feels that he deserves all the blessings as a right and because he is good.
Often when we are naked, hunted down and being a lonely outcast like the GLBT community, crucified at the Cross by society in their self righteousness, we are in pain and suffering. We bear shame and rejection, the condemnation of society and the church is often on us.
Many GLBT people have been kicked out of the mega churches such as City Harvest church with the National Council of Churches in Singapore still insisting that gays be jailed.
We don’t need to judge because the facts are there how the church have sinned against the gay community, and the facts of the law concerning Kong Hee. The tens of millions of illicit transactions are on paper, and the best lawyers in Singapore could only plead a mitigation that the Cross Over to the US is for saving souls. The raw naked China Wine with the jamaican slang that few understands, where the money was lost is hard to argue for evangelism.
The churches can spin a rethoric against gays blaiming us for a gay aggenda because they have the strenghts and numbers and political cloud, and we are the ones being crucified at the cross and being forced to hide in the closet all our lives.
We stare at Kong Hee and the six crosses now before us. We are not throwing any stones because we have been there at the Cross, no not a mere 3 years that Kong have been suffering but a whole lifetime. The church has given us a lifetime jail sentence without grace nor mercy.
We stare at Kong Hee who was and is the church crying out that he is innocent and declaring like Jesus, God why have you forsaken us. Why does he deserve special treatment being utterly guilty yet we are asked not to judge!
We stare at Kong Hee and we begin to cry. We are sorry too that we have to suffer so much and come to ashes whilst those who persecute us still adamant of their innocense and are not repentful.
But our mouths are shut and silent because we have been in the closet too long and have shouted and cried for too long. We just stare for we are crying for our own humanity and dignity being taken away. The six crosses is our justice, and we are sorry because it should not have been this way!.
Just prior to the charges against Pastor Kong, he gave an insightful sermon at the “Presence” C3 conference in Sydney Australia hosted by his mentor Phil Pringle.
It gives his side of the story of what happened for the last two years. Pastor Kong was introduced as
“…founder and leader of the incredible City Harvest Church in Singapore. Along with his wife Sun, Kong has grown his great congregation to over 28,000 members through passionate prayer and discipleship.His strong focus on connect groups as well as his teaching of cultural relevance and being engaged in all levels of society has had great impact on the Church throughout the world.”
Extracted from Fighting For The Faith podcast – June 26, 2012 From http://www.fightingforthefaith.com/, part of the sermon is transcribed below:-
22 23 months ago when the crisis first happened for the first 6 to 8 months I was under severe interrogation.
I was interrogated on a weekly basis by different departments and for the rest of the time I would be in the lawyer’s office giving them a debrief and they would interrogate me a third time.
I was so tired. I was like a walking zombie. I had no concept of morning or night. What day of the week. Some interrogation sessions went on for 16, 17 hours.
I would start 8.30 in the morning and end at 3 the next morning. I was so tired. I never thought I would slip into depression. But For 8 months I slumped into a very severe depression.
If anything I am a faith preacher. I am positive. All things are possible. No weapons form against me shall prosper. I am always smiling …. very positive…
My Son I’m so sorry, You need to go through this alone. But You need to die. And You need to go through this to be the Saviour of the world.
And God the Father, heartbroken and He wept, as He turned back His face when His Son took the sin of the whole world. I was saying all this and I am hearing myself behind the pulpit and I froze.
I couldn’t utter another word and I sob and I shook because those were my exact sentiments … Father Father … why my God …. my God why have You forsaken me … and threw me to the dogs.
And for the first time in eight months, I heard a voice, it was not the voice of a strict angry judge that only want me to perform and build a big church and nothing I do is ever going to be enough for Him.
No, it’s not the voice of an angry judge. It’s not the voice of a slave driver that just want to take and take and wringed me dry.
It was a voice of a tender loving and broken hearted Father. For the first time in eight months … God I heard Him cry … my son Kong thank you….
Thank you for going through this….I need you to go through this alone so that you and City Harvest church can be the man and the ministry I called it to be ..
I’m so sorry but you need to go through this by yourself. … to bring a change to your generation. I hear God saying for the first time in eight months…. I love you, I love you. Waves upon waves of God’s love …. Just saturated me … Abba Abba daddy. I knew everything is going to be alright.