What does it mean to be fully human? I have often asked this question. Even after receiving Jesus into my life, I sometimes feel incomplete or empty within. Hence, I stretched out my hands to find things to do, to occupy and fill my life. I put much effort into work, church ministry, hang out with friends, and soon I realised my identity revolves around these. These became my ends. I strived to do well in these areas, to gain significance, acceptance, job progression, status, recognition, monetary rewards.
My relationship with God, sometimes, becomes a means to these ends too. I come to God to ask for success and to fulfil what I have on hand, or plan to do and achieve, and sometimes to prove my worth, instead of truly seeking Him. In the process, I found much stress, frustration and futility. Further, it never truly satisfies, and is often temporal.
Yet, it is not to say that I cannot come to God to ask for things. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught us that we can go to him in prayer and ask Him for our daily needs (Matt 6:11).
He promised that He will provide. However, it is interesting that He taught us to come to Him first by recognising our relationship with Him, that God is our heavenly Father; to reflect on His character of holiness, and to yearn for His Kingdom to come and His will to be done (Matt 6:9-10). In the book of Revelation, in the final restored Kingdom, Jesus will be on the throne, dwelling with His redeemed people, in the fullness of glory. The redeemed people of God will worship and serve in the temple of God day and night (Rev 7:15). I come to realise that at the end, the presence and glory of God is the everlasting end that will truly satisfy.
I begin to understand what being fully human means. It is coming into the presence of God, through Christ, finding forgiveness, acceptance, love and my identity and significance in Him, which matters most. As I dwell in the presence of God, worship Him, behold His power and glory from His revealed words in the bible, I am gradually transformed into His image. NT Wright in his book “After you believe” describes that men were made to be God’s image bearer, to be priests and rulers, to reflect God’s glory of wisdom, generosity, justice and beauty. Work, church, family, relationships, etc., become gifts from God, to serve His purposes, as God’s agent in the world to bring about restoration and redemption, to reflect God’s glory to the world. I begin to find my joy, fulfilment and significance in Him.
Yet, as I live in the world, I would continue to experience frustrations, pains and aches, as the world is fallen, and is far from perfect. Romans 8:22 describes how the whole of creation groans in pain, as we wait in eager anticipation for the final restoration and renewal in the last days.
Meanwhile, I need to depend on His grace, and persevere on in faith.
Yet, it is often so easy for me to forget that Jesus Christ is my utmost, and to seek His kingdom and glory. I swing from being self-seeking or being consumed by the troubles of this world. It is here that I find myself needing to build habits of grace, to frequently turn back to Him, to seek Him in His words and prayers, having daily devotions, space and time to reflect and dwell in His Word. David Mathis, in “Habits of Grace” says “Meditating on God’s words shapes our soul… As we’re freshly captivated by the grandeur of our God and his gospel, we become what we behold: “We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, and being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor 3:18).
Are you dwelling in His presence daily? Are you reflecting God’s glory to the world we live in? Draw close to God and He will draw near to you.
By Chen Yahui, Pastoral Staff (YCKC Bulletin 25&26 February 2017)