Living in the Truth
John 8:31-32 (Missionary Chung Woo Chun)
The Children of Abraham
31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Today’s message is presented by a Korean missionary to Cambodia – living with his daughter and wife: Chung Woo Chun
I regret accepting the offer of Pastor Heo to preach here in English – I’m nervous. I’m a Korean missionary to Cambodia – 11 years. Over there, I speak in Cambodian language except when I talk to my family in Korean. For the past 10 years, I didn’t even preach once in English. Years ago, I did ONE sermon in English during my missionary training in the Philippines. Yet, I respect Pastor Heo, so I accepted his offering. Also, I’m here to preach the Word of God, not show my proficiency in English. So, even if my English is not perfect, please be generous to me – take what you can from my preaching.
I want to have a special song through my daughter (she may be more trembling than me). The name of the song is “Father God on the Mountain” – by Linda (a black person) I was impressed by her singing so I had my daughter learn this. I lived in the countryside for 10 years, so I’ve never had a chance to send my daughter to an international nor English school (too far, too expensive) – so I sent her to public school and they taught her American pop songs – so I said, “You’d better sing gospel songs with the pop songs.”
She’s waiting for an “encore” but you didn’t say “encore…”
The title of my sermon is “Living in the Truth.”
On this planet, there are so many people living (7 billion) – I checked on my smartphone. If we divide them into two categories, there are “believers” and “non-believers.” But in the world – in the non-believers, there are also two groups “normal” and “below average”.
- Normal = normal attitude, citizenship, good manners, they don’t believe in Christ.
- Below average = the one next door in my apartment – from 9am he starts murmuring and shouting and talking loudly and shouting until 2-3am. Next door, we cannot sleep. Downstairs, there’s another one, talking to himself (I thought it was a phone call – but maybe he’s an alcoholic). Outside too, there was one drinking alot and singing Korean pop songs – until 3-4am. These people are mentally ill or disabled mentally or in their bodies.
You can also find this kind of two groups among politicians, businessmen, etc, in society. They are so WICKED. They make other people uncomfortable, unhappy, damaged, etc.
In Cambodia, 30 years ago, there was Polpot, a politician – an extreme communist. He made many people die – he killed many people – many people are still suffering from the traumas he made. (1 out of 4-5 people he killed – almost EVERY family has suffered from his policies – even now they suffer from traumas).
Even now, among our own businessmen and politicians, they make so many people unhappy – these are “below average.”
Yet, the “normal” people we often see at the park, or the foot of the mountain, wearing beautiful clothes, exercising, enjoying the group activities, folk songs, etc. Yet, they never know Jesus.
The third group is us. We are Christians. The Christians should live not by instinct or emotion or human thought and philosophy, but by the Word of God. That’s the kind of Christians we are.
When I go to the park, I can meet someone who is enjoying exercise. Among them, I can find “special” men – shut mouth, black glasses, square face and jaw, and exercising enthusiastically – “no one get in MY way! no room for others” – he’s just busy for himself. Outwardly, they look like they have no problems, yet, inside, they live by themselves, completely alone – not thinking about spiritual things, nor others, only “I’m busy.”
Yet, we are Christians. We must think first of : God, then of : others.
The will to live – we must follow the Word of God. So, we must understand it thoroughly. Therefore I chose this passage.
Here in v. 31, the Bible says “to the Jews who had believed in him” – this also means “to the Christians who had believed in him” (us). Like us, they know Jesus is the Savior/Son of God. Jesus says to them, “if you hold to my teachings, you are really my disciples.”
There are the two categories outside of Christ. Even inside the church there are two types of groups:
In the mission field:
- The crowd
- The disciples
When I go outside with simple medicine for parasites and colds. I go to give the gospel. I can meet the crowd easily (20, 30, 40 people). It’s so easy to meet them. But they are not disciples. They are the crowd.
- Crowd = they come to Jesus (or a missionary/Christian/etc) and take what they want for their physical demands and then they return to their sinful nature. They do not take responsibility nor take up their own cross for the glory of God. They just want to satisfy themselves and return to their “normal” lives.
- Disciples = they came to meet their physical demands in the beginning, yet as they listen to the Word of God, they become “Christians” more and more. Christians = followers of Christ/God. They have the mindset to take responsibility in their daily lives.
I baptized more than 300 people, but I think from them, my disciples only number 50 or less.
So, actually, the work of a missionary is not easy. Only by the power of the Holy Spirit can a missionary do his mission. As the time goes, I really feel like the time is so difficult and I want to go back to Korea. Yet, I know the truth, “You do not work by your own power, but by the power of the Holy Spirit.” I know the Word, so I can continue in my mission. This is why we all must cling to the Word of God. This Word of God must be saturated in our bodies. The only way we can overcome the world is through the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit.
When I observed my friends, pastors, who led their church successfully – the MOST successful pastors are those who TEACH the Word of God best. I taught as well, using instances from their daily lives to get them to understand more easily and then I teach and teach from the Word of God.
Everyone of us should be born again, but being born again is the work of the Holy Spirit. The role of the missionary/pastor/teacher is to TEACH the Bible – explain the Bible. So, we must be saturated by the Word of God and pray continuously and be indwelt by the power of the Holy Spirit.
In the church, 1 is a member of the crowd, 1 is a disciple. Why? What’s the reason to stay in the crowd? What’s the reason to transition to disciple?
Since Adam and Eve ate the fruit of Good and Evil, man was thrown out of the realm of God and into the realm of the world. We became accustomed to our own self-centered thoughts. Therefore, even though we may hear the truth of God, we do not want to give up our own self-centered thoughts.
Yet, someone overcome by the power of the Holy Spirit, he realized that he was a sinner, and he repented and got help from the power of the Holy Spirit, and he became a child of God.
I had the experience before coming to Korea, I made a trip to America (California) to see my cousin. She invited my family for 20 days and because I’m a pastor, I was interested in their lifestyles, their way of living. In 2 days in Disneyland, and CA, I found big differences (Cambodia vs. USA).
In only 2 days, I flew from Cambodia to USA from darkness to light. From death to life. Cambodian people may feel sorry for me, but that’s the truth.
- Cambodian society = self-centered.
- USA = more God-centered.
Yet, the USA is rapidly changing from believer to non-believer, yet from the beginning, the country was founded on the Word or God – the whole country/system was imbued with the Word of God.
- In Cambodia, car first.
- USA, human first.
I love Cambodia also, but in Cambodia, as we walk down the street, the driver almost kills us just walking down the street. There’s no respect for others.
In the USA, after 54 years, I finally saw, as I crossed the street, even from 5 meters away, the cars stopped… WOW. They respect the law of the nation AND respect others. Where are these good values from? From the Bible, I believe.
This is very interesting, and I learned a big lesson.
How about Korea? Sometimes cars, sometimes man (mostly cars…)
Why am I telling you this? Because one family, one country, one nation, ALL people, if they live by the Word of God, they live a God-centered life. That’s why their lives are different.
I’m a pastor and missionary and am pleased to be a Christian and am pleased to learn the truth (right from wrong) from the Word of God. That’s WHY I can lead not only myself, but also others to the light.
So the happiest time in my mission field is teaching the Bible, and then taking a shower, and then sitting down before the fan (시원해). It’s soooo hot over there….
The difference between Cambodia, Korea, and the USA I told you, but we also must live a God-centered life in our daily lives.
In order to be a disciple, we must DO one thing. ONE thing. Take up our cross that God gave us.
Why be one member of the crowd? They listen to the Word of God a lot. They are a member of the crowd because they do not give up their selfishness in their daily lives.
My own mother, 86 years old, is getting weaker and weaker every year, I came back 1-2 times to check on her health. My 4 brothers should help take care of her in my place. My brothers and sisters say “Sorry, I cannot take care of our mother.” So I said, “Fine, let’s take her to Cambodia and take care of her there.”
One of my friends said, “Please, just entrust her to the silver hospital” but I refused because I love my mother.
Following Jesus Christ is the SAME.
The one who loves Christ the most can take care of the cross Christ has given him. The one who loves Christ the most takes the cross before him.
The mission field is not stable. When the law of immigration is changed, when the politics change, you don’t know. When they want to drive us away, we do not know. But, I trust God, he will take care of us.
“God on the mountain is still God in the valley.”
Surely if God cares for us in our triumphs, he will care for us MORE in our tragedies.
Two weeks ago, I met a lady who wanted to be a missionary. I said, “Are you checking yourself, when you see a difficult thing, are you the kind of person who does it FASTEST? Faster than others?” The difficult thing, the complicated thing is NOT attractive, you don’t gain fame, you must lose your ego, you can be despised. Yet, can you do it? Are you the kind of person who sits in the living room while your mother washes dishes, or are you the kind of person who GETS UP and washes the dishes?
I’m not saying whether or not you’re qualified or not, but you need to check yourself. Many people romanticize “mission work” yet – you must become a BEGGAR. This is not a romantic thing. To help others live better lives, we must take on more difficulties. In the beginning, they do not know, yet it takes 7 years of teaching, giving, helping, planting, and then they eventually begin to realize the difference – what is right, what is wrong.
When I traveled to the USA, one of my disciples came to my house and gave me some money he prepared. I took it fast because I feared that he would take it back. I saw inside, $100 (this was 80% of his monthly salary). A normal missionary would give him it but, but I’m “evil” so I took it. I understood he invested in God, not in man (and actually, he took/borrowed a lot from me). I’m not the kind of person who believes in give-and-take. But I teach them offering, how to help them, how to live God-centered lives, how to live unselfish lives. Maybe when I return to Cambodia, I will repay him more, but you need to understand that through the Word of God, man can be changed.
I also used to be an alcoholic – I should be like the “below average” alcoholic singing pop songs from dawn til dusk. Yet, I learned from God, his Word changed me, and now I can lead not only myself, but also other people.
In the countryside, every morning, I used to teach for 2 hours because over there, monks also taught 2 hours (otherwise they would think it was less important than it is).
- Be free from all kinds of powers of darkness by believing in the Word of God. THEN, you can help to set others free.
- To help them be free, we must take up our cross. To listen and forget, listen and forget, doesn’t work. We must listen and DO – take up our cross daily and follow him.
Everyone of us is a missionary in our daily lives.
My mother is the first generation Christian. She suffered so much difficulty in her life. My uncle’s family used to worship the ancestors 12 times per year. Yet, now in the end of her life, by the plan of God, she is going to Cambodia with her son. This is a blessing I think. Go over there, and pray and be a successful missionary as well. That’s what she wants to do.
As my mother – also in our lives, like the waves of the ocean, constantly, difficulties come up. But we must overcome them.
1 John 5 “Who is he who overcomes the world? The one who believes that Jesus Christ is the son of God.”
In my living room, there is a maxim from the Word of God (Matthew 6:33 “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and then ALL these things will be added to you as well.”)
In my difficulties, I don’t always think of others, I concentrate on the will and kingdom of God – and God solves the problem.
Like to Word of God, let’s overcome the world by depending on and believing the Word of God.