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2012-09-16 Helper

Time: 2012-09-16 Click:

By Cathy Zhang
16 Sep. 2012 Sunday

 

 

 

 

Media Resources:

Sermon: Helper video audio  
Worship song: Forever - Give Thanks to the Lord video   lyric
Worship song: Everlasting God video audio lyric
Worship song: Shout to the Lord video audio lyric
Worship song: You Are Beautiful video audio lyric

 

Presider’s Prayer: Richard

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you for creating this world and our human beings. Thank you for giving us today this wonderful weather and beautiful sunshine and the pure blue sky. However we know there are many places in this world and in China where people are suffering from all kinds of evil desires or attack from human being ourselves. Lord we know that this is not from you because you said in the holy Bible that when the end of world is drawing near, nations and peoples will attack other nations and peoples. Lord, we know the end is nearer and nearer, so Lord please come because we need you and your love never fails. We really need your love and rescue; Lord you know that without you, we human beings are nothing for we have our own desires and evil thoughts---everything that is self-centered: we want to attack others… Lord, so please come to lead the way and change people’s heart with your mercy and almighty hands; let them turn around and bow down; let them be humble and know themselves better. Lord, without you, this world cannot be saved nor the whole human being. So, Lord please come to let us know you more and give us holy hearts. Lord I want to pray for those who are under attacks or difficulties, they may be hurt or get wounded severely. Please comfort them and bless them. Lord, please make the whole world realize one day that they should open their mouth to adore you, to bow down confessing their sins. We want to deliver the whole country and world into your hands. In your name, Amen.

 


 

 

Worship song: Forever - Give thanks to the Lord

Verse 1 Give thanks to the Lord, our God, our King
His love endures forever
For he is good, He is above all things
His love endures forever
Sing praise! Sing praise!
Verse 2 With a mighty hand, and an outstretched arm
His love endures forever
For the life that's been reborn
His love endures forever
Sing praise! Sing praise!
Sing praise! Sing praise!
Chorus Forever, God is faithful
Forever, God is strong
Forever, God is with us
Forever! Forever!
Verse 3 From the rising to the setting sun
His love endures forever
By His grace we will carry on
His love endures forever
Sing praise! Sing praise!
Sing praise! Sing praise!

 

 
 

 

Worship song: Shout to the Lord

Verse 1 My Jesus, my Saviour
Lord, there is none like You
All of my days, I want to praise
The wonders of Your mighty love
Verse 2 My comfort, my shelter
Tower of refuge and strength
Let every breath, all that I am
Never cease to worship You
Chorus Shout to the Lord, all the earth let us sing
Power and majesty Praise to the King
Mountains bow down and the seas will roar
At the sound of Your name
I sing for joy at the work of Your hands
Forever, I'll love You,
Forever, I'll stand
Nothing compares to the promise I have in You
How great is our God, sing with me
How great is our God, and all will see
How great! How great is our God
Name above all names,
Worthy of all praise,
My heart will sing~
How great is our God.

 

 

 

Scripture Reading: Genesis 2:18-24
The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”  Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.
So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.  But for Adam no suitable helper was found.  So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh.  Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

 

 

Sermon:

 

Good morning, please join me in a very short prayer:

Lord of creation, Lord of wisdom, Lord of love, please send your spirit to fill this hall, and fill our heart, so that we may see you, feel you and be touched, and be transformed by you. May your spirit lighten us so that the words from your servant's mouth and the meditation from our hearts all pleased in your sight. In Christ's name we pray. Amen!

  

 


 

 

Twenty years ago, I got married. We were poor, both my husband and I, we were living with our parents, and we were working in the big city of Nanjing. And so we just put two single beds together, and sent out invitation to ask our colleagues to come that night. I went to a hairdresser to dress up a little bit, and we gave candies to our colleagues. That was our wedding. It seems that I married with great courage, but actually I was not. I was scared to death before that day. I was in great fear. I didn’t know why. And that fear was so true that I still remember vividly today. And I know many of you, girls and boys, before your marriage, you have this fear. You fear that is this the right person that I am going to committed myself to? Is he or she going to change? Can our passion last forever? What will I do if he changed or if I changed? The pressure of this commitment, and this responsibility and this weakness of future make us fear. It is quite natural to feel the fear. And when I got married I was not a Christian at that time. And I have to say the first two years were horrible. We fought with each other, argued a lot, and a lot of times it is I who bullied him. I'm a very strong-willed woman. You may tell. And I was lucky that my husband is a very patient and good-tempered. So when, maybe 9 years later I told my husband that I am going to be a Christian, he said, "O good, then you are going to be a good wife at least." and I have to say, I truly was converted and transformed when I got Christian faith. But it is still not that magic or that miraculous thing didn't happen right after I was converted. Actually it was still a process.

And I think the Scriptures I want to share you today, and I pick up this one key word "helper" that may help me also reflect on my process of changing or being transformed. We have read the Scripture, so we know that God noticed Adam who was formed from ground or earth, is alone, and God didn't think being alone was good. So God wanted him to have a helper, now and also, the helper who would be suitable for him. So God created more things, animals, birds, wild living stocks, but they were not helper. So God noticed that Adam was still alone, so finally God put him into sleep and took part, you know the Hebrew word, and rib is also a part of Adam's body and created Eve.

It's very interesting, the reading of this story, the creation of man and woman. It is a resource of many things. And one reading from this--taking part of Adam and formed Eve--has been interpreted as that woman should be subordinate to man. And they encouraged woman to read this story together with Proverbs 31, that perfect wonderful woman, and also to read it with Ephesians 5:22-24. Remember 5:22-24  is the part that Paul is asking women to have their husband as their head and subordinate. If you read this way, because taking part of the body of Adam to be the woman, so woman is the slave, or is the object only? Because the helper is only for the need of the loneliness, of Adam that woman was created. Is that true?

"Helper", the Hebrew word "Gate" appeared 20 times in the Old Testament, and 12 times it referred to God, and another 5 times it is God who is giving help. So today, I want to focus on God as the helper, and then we think of our relation in marriage or in loving relations.

God as the helper, what does that mean? If you think God as the helper, are we still able to call our partner, our spouse, an object or a slave for our own needs? NO!

Helper, the Hebrew root conveys that the primary idea is to give aid in the form of guarding up, protecting, surrounding and defending. It is like a guarding angel. That's how we imagine God as our helper. And you if you can treat your partner as a helper in that way. It may be a good beginning.

 

 

First, God as the helper, what in my understanding, is very humble. God always, and that's the special and uniqueness in the Bible that God is not that hierarchical leader or king or Lord, but very humble. He comes to you from the start even before you recognize God. God humbles himself in the form of Jesus Christ. And this humbleness makes Christianity unique.

However as we are condescending and even stepping in the relationship as a helper, we are arrogant. I knew a psychologist therapist in Nanjing. I know I always refer to psychology and my friends joke with me and some of you still think psychology is useless, however, can you think of psychology as a medicine? Or something like computer? i-phone? That is something that God sent to us as a gift and it is quite useful if we combine it with our faith. This therapist is a Christian and he was trained in the seminary and then got his professional training as a therapist.

And I also knew a friend who was a lay leader in the church. I knew he had some problems---it’s very difficult for him to establish the kind of relationship with girls because he doesn’t have the sense of security. Then I asked the therapist to help this brother and I also asked the therapist to give him a free treatment because the brother’s poor. I was asking too much actually. And my therapist friend agreed but after several times of the treatment, it’s very interesting---the brother went to the therapist and said: The reason I came to you to receive help is because Cathy told me that you are a Christian therapist but in my previous treatment you never talked about theology. Can you just give me more theological help, more biblical support? The therapist laughed and said: see? You are sick and you don’t know what the problem is; you came to the hospital to see a doctor but you are asking a doctor to give the prescription according to your understanding of your sickness. Untrue, arrogant, even when you come and receive help, you have your own way; you have your own agenda and you never will give it up. That’s the reason why you cannot establish relationship with a girl. It is because you always want others to fit you and you never give up your own way. You are not humble as you claimed to be.

Yes, superficially in the church, we see this brother very humble, but that’s not from his heart. There’s a part that is very condescending that even you go to provide your help to others with more arrogance. And you think those who receive your help should be humble to receive your help.

God as the helper is actually very humble: He listens to us first and the God tries to provide all kinds of way to change us. But we still refuse even when God has sent the helper to us like to this brother, the therapist is the helper from God, but he refused because people think there’s one way they can accept God’s grace, which is their own way. So God as the helper first of all, is very humble. In the relationship with your spouse or partnership, being humble and listen. Listen to the need carefully even repeat what you have heard from your partner. 

Second, God as the helper is compassionate; He is love. Here, we need to be reminded by British theologian, C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) in his book “The Four Loves” that God is love, but love is not God. A lot of times, we love to think God is love and we want to be loved by God; but a lot of times, we elevated love as God. Like we have mentioned the conflict between China and Japan, or all the nasty things happened yesterday; that is, because in the name of love for this country, they did things so badly.

So when you put love as God, it’s going to be evil and very hurtful. In your relationship, even if you think it is love, remember, that love is a little bit different and should be aware that you don’t put love as God. We need love.

I have a daughter who works in a hospital in the cancer department. It’s quite depressed and one day I went to see her. Once a while, patients dropped and committed suicide because of the pain that they could not suffer. I asked her: You have seen so many people facing death and do you see if better-educated people or rich people feel more peaceful or comfortable at the end of their life journey than others. She said no, actually facing death, wealth or education does not help at all. The thing that makes difference is love. If a person had a good family, been loved or know how to love and his storage of love is full, he is more peaceful facing the end. So we all need love and we need to store love.

 

And again C. S. Lewis in his  his book, “The Four Loves”, talks a lot about relationships especially the Christian understanding of love. He first separates love into two categories, one is Need-love and the other is Gift-love. The need-love is when you talk about your lover or partner or spouse and you say “oh I cannot live without her/him”. Don’t be so proud of yourself that you have this greatest love but actually this is need-love. It is the satisfaction for your need. As for gift-love, it is more inclusive and sacrifice without requesting love back. So the gift-love is more selfless, is like what we have said the “Agape love” or unconditional love. And this kind of love can support a person, for instance, he/she devoted all their time to work because they want to make the family happier, stable and stronger and they have this kind of gift-love.

 

Love is complicated and we need to become familiar with these four loves. One is the affectionate love, is called “ Storge” in Greek. It is that you love your family members, relatives—your parents and your brothers and sisters; the second love is friendship called “Philia” that is the love of knowledge and this love is like friendship---very rational with certain distance; the third love is “Eros” or romantic love and this love actually will change; it is very passionate and some experts said it can never last longer than 18 months. Therefore, you cannot maintain your marriage only on this love; the fourth is the “Agape” love and we call it spiritual love or the love of God. These four loves are beautiful and needed.

 

We need all of them, so do not think that you can only have one of them, or do not think only God has this “agape ” love, true, only God can present us this unconditional love, just giving, forgiving and embracing. But actually, we also can do that if you pursue and have this spirit in your heart and remind yourself in your work, and then you are able to build up a peaceful relationship with people around you. The expert also say if we unconsciously help someone you don’t love or hate or you don’t have a good relationship with, but because of this AGAPE love reminds you, you help them but actually that help will reduce your hatred and your relationship with this person can be improved. Try that.

 

Third, God as the helper is transformative but this transformative power comes on the foundation of humbleness and compassion. So when you are humble and you have love, then you are able to be transformative and again, this transformative is first of all that you are willing to be transformed.

 

Do not think that you are going to transform others, but think of that, are you able to be transformed in this relationship first? Think of God, Christ came to us in the humbleness and Christ has been transformed, God has been transformed into this human being, and the crucifixion on the cross and this transformation actually changed us.

 

So, first of all, let yourself be transformed and emptied, let go your ego, your big ego, let go your own agenda and your own protection of yourself. Let yourself be willing to be transformed first and with this, you can be transformative. And you then can transform others.

 

Talking about my own experience, as I said after my conversion, I didn’t change immediately in the relationship with my husband actually; I was arrogant and I saw only his weakness, and I always wanted to do my way and once I was in a sermon, the preacher was talking about “loving your neighbor”. I don’t know why, but the Spirit hit me and I started to cry. I didn’t hear any other massage but the only massage through that sermon to me is that: I am talking about loving my neighbor all the time, but I didn’t show love to the one who is so close to me. How can I say I have love to my neighbor? That made me transformed. I started to think and to humble myself. Then gradually I discovered more and more about these virtues and actually, he has more virtues than I do. So that transformation actually made me truly humbled and the relationship has been transformed. Because of my transformation, he is also changed, true! I always asked him to change first but refused to change myself and it’s the trick that only when I am willing to change myself first, with the help of faith and God’s grace, I can change the other parts.

 

Talking back to the fear, we do have the fear and at the beginning of our marriage even we have prepared ourselves to love and devoted ourselves to the other, yes, fear is true. However, remember that we are going to be the helper for the other, the helper that is humble, compassionate and willing to be transformed; with the helper Christ as our model, we will overcome the fear in the end. May God bless us all and bless your love, Amen.

 

 
 

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