Removing the Old; Receiving the New

By Ps Alby Yip

Blessed Chinese New Year to all Zion Bishan’s members and regular worshippers! 

I trust that you had a blessed time at the reunion dinners and also on the first day of CNY yesterday. What did you do? For reunion dinners, most of us would gather around the table, sometimes with extended families, to reunite, probably since the last reunion dinner. I trust you have had a great time catching up with kith and kin.

On the first day of CNY, most families will start the day with the children greeting their parents, and receiving the customary ang pows. Then the families who are younger in the genealogical tree will leave to visit the seniors of their clan, again, that would probably be a once-a-year affair. I trust too that you have had a good time cheering the older folks.

I did not realize I was doing the same, that is, catching up with relatives and visiting the older generation only once a year, until a sudden realization one year. We used to visit about 8 or 9 senior relatives each year. In that year, I realized that we were left with only one senior relative to visit. The others had passed on. 

Then it dawned on me, that among these, only one was a believer. I was overwhelmed with guilt. What if I had stayed longer during those visits? What if I had more intentionally shared the Gospel during those visits? But I realised that these two questions were no more than my frail attempts to assuage my guilty conscience for missing out on those Gospel opportunities.

God’s Spirit impressed upon me, “Alby, do you truly believe that staying longer and being more prepared to share the Gospel will make that person believe Me?” To be sure, I am convinced God can touch and change any heart at any time. But I am not God. My duty is not to make a person believe. My duty is to sow the seed, water and till the ground. 

This cannot happen when I am visiting only once a year. Why can’t I visit more often then? It’s our usual refrain. I have a job, family, life to live etc. Then God made me see the problem. I was living life to fit my purpose. No wonder practical matters take precedence over spiritual matters and my agendas take centre stage instead of God’s agenda.

One of the main tenets of the celebration of Chinese New Year is “removing the old, receiving the new.” (去旧迎新) Besides changing away old furniture and clothes, would you be willing also to remove the old way of living? We will never be able to have enough time for everything. This CNY would you consider receiving the new way, the Christ Way, the Cross Way of living? 

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