The theme of this year’s Youth Camp is “Real Me”. Through this camp, we hope to help our young people understand that we do not need to try to become the person other people want us to be – we just need to find our true selves as created by God, pure and real. Today, many people like to tell us that we should do this or should not do that , what is success and what is failure. These voices often make us lose our own identities or drive us to work too hard day in, day out. A Jewish Rabbi Zusha, shared his after-death experience. He went to another world; he was not asked why he could not live like Moses; instead, he was asked why he could not live as Zusha. Our God does not want us to live like any other person, He wants us to live as who we are. This is the true meaning of “Real Me”.
This appears to be simple but it is difficult to put into practice. I believe it is a bigger challenge for grown-ups.
I had bible study with several brothers and sisters, we read the passage about Ananias and Sapphira in the Book of Acts. The couple who sold their land and secretly kept part of the proceeds but told Peter that they had surrendered everything from the sale. Subsequently, they were put to death because they lied to the Holy Spirit. In the past, when I read this passage, I thought that they were unwilling to surrender all their proceeds due to their love of money. However, I could not quite understand why they chose to make this offering if they did not want to part with all of their possessions. They were not obliged to so, why bother with the deception, which resulted in them losing their lives.
When we studied the passage this time, we realised the author used the same approach to introduce another person, before he introduced Ananias. This was Barnabas, a leader who was beloved by the church. It seems that in the atmosphere of the early church where everyone was willing to share everything with each other, the two of them were used as a comparison of good and bad. To a certain extent, we wondered whether Ananias and his wife were driven to sell their property because of Barnabas’ actions, hoping to become the second Barnabas?
Finding an example to follow is not a problem, the problem is whether we can be sincere and true to ourselves. In the early church, zealous Christians were willing to sell all their possessions to help others. It might appear to some that to be a good Christian in the eyes of others was to follow this standard. Perhaps Ananias and Sapphira sold their property, because of social pressure, or because they were eager to gain the approval of others. I believe their problem is not that they have kept a part for themselves, but that their intention was to deceive others, God, and even themselves.
Brothers and sisters, I too sometimes question whether I meet the standard of a good minister in the eyes of others, and thinking that if I can behave like a certain minister, perhaps others will be more appreciative and approving. However, this passage reminds me not to lose focus because of other people’s expectations or to create a false self-image. I believe that one day when I go to heaven, God will not ask me why I am not like Rev. Chiu, He will only ask me why don’t I behave as Benjamin Cho?
God made each of us unique, it is unnecessary to pretend to be someone else in order to fulfil another person’s expectation of who we are. However, we do have to work hard to understand what God intends us to be and try our hardest to live out this “Real Me” that He has created.
I hope that when we go to heaven, we can all be affirmed by God, “It’s great, you have lived out the “you” that I created!”
Pastor Benjamin Cho