Jon Kan: Is God obligated to forgive me? #ChristmasAtCERC | CERC Blog | Christ Evangelical Reformed Church (CERC)


Jon Kan: Is God obligated to forgive me? #ChristmasAtCERC

Jon Kan: Is God obligated to forgive me? #ChristmasAtCERC

“Is God obligated to forgive you?” Wei Kin asked in a soft but firm voice after a fairly long pause. The restaurant bustled with people even though the sun had gone to bed hours ago. It was filled with chitter-chatter and laughter. At the corner stood a miniature Christmas tree with a few velvety-red ornaments and some wrapped gifts underneath. Santa’s sleigh and his reindeers dangled over me. Yet, the question lingered on, refusing to leave: Is God obligated to forgive you?

“Even if you are repentant?” he added, which made me feel as though my thoughts were just read out. Well, I thought, the obvious answer is yes – most especially if you are repentant  – is it not?

I wondered why I struggled to be convinced of my answer. I had grown up in a Christian home and was pretty much sure that I had Christianity figured out for most parts of my life. Despite the few bumps every now and then, my life was going rather smoothly. However, my worldview started to crumble bit by bit when my family’s finances became unstable in 2014. Even till 2018, nothing changed. Reality seeped in as my bubble of well-to-do lifestyle burst. Do I even have a purpose of existing? I often wondered dejectedly. By then, I was overwhelmed with too many unanswered questions.

Jon and Wei Kin

But as the year drew to a close, I unexpectedly got invited by my mom’s colleague, Yi Yi, whom I had not met before, to an outdoor holiday camp organised by Christian volunteers, called White Water Summer Camp (WWSC). My initial hesitation to go was overturned by my dire desperation to seek for answers.

Furthermore, an anonymous person’s offer to pay for my entire camp fees left me with no excuse. Little did I know, this was where everything started to change. For 6 days, I marvelled at how the camp was run. I found out that all the camp staff were volunteers and had to pay a certain amount to come. Most of them even had to take leaves from their work. Adding on to that, they had to prepare for this camp for the whole year! Yet, they were the most loving bunch of people I have met. But, how is this possible?

“The gospel,” Wei Kin answered, whom I first met here in WWSC. “The gospel is what unites us to do this,” he said. Those words gave me goosebumps. Does that mean I have never really understood…the gospel? Despite calling myself a Christian my whole life?

“As I saw God’s glory and majesty from His Word,
my whole world was overturned.”


After the camp ended, Wei Kin met up with me to show me what the gospel really is from the scriptures, verse by verse. And as I saw God’s glory and majesty from His Word, my whole world was overturned. I realised that God is perfectly self-sufficient, in need of nothing. With His majestic grandeur as the cosmic backdrop, my entire life of ignorance to him was magnified. There my sin laid as clear as day in His holy courtroom. I had sinned against God who owes me nothing, but whom I owed everything. By stamping His holy name upon my own personal ambitions and desires, I justified my actions of pursuing them. And with great zeal, I pursued them. But in reality, it was only a sick excuse to get away with living life however I wanted to. Hell is all that my life merited. It was only at this point that I recognised the full glory of the cross of Christ for the first time in my life.

Jon and his family

Jon and his Mum

And as the months went by, my family and I began to attend Christ Evangelical Reformed Church (CERC), where Wei Kin himself had encountered the gospel. My mom, Ket Lin, in particular, has been greatly encouraged. In her own words, “In my whole life as a Christian, only now have I been taught to read the scriptures contextually, that the bible is meant to be read grammatically.” Moreover, in stark contrast to the individualistic understanding of Christianity I was taught growing up, I see here what amazed me back in WWSC, which I now understand as the church – a sinful people redeemed by Christ to now live together in service to Him under His lordship.

“It was so refreshing to see the text for what it’s actually worth,
to see the power of God through his word.”


During that time, I have also joined a Growth Group and met my lifelong friends and family in Christ. Vividly embedded in me, I remember shedding tears in the midst of one of my first Growth Group studies. There was no music of any sort in the background, nor any emotional manipulation, but simply the word of God being brought to life. Conveying the message it is intended to, after hours of hard work at the text contextually. The truth of the word laid then so irresistibly clear and beautiful right in front of our eyes, piercing through our stony hearts. It was so refreshing to see the text for what it’s actually worth, to see the power of God through His Word. Nowadays, my weekends are spent learning to read the Bible properly with one another in Growth Group as well as Sunday gatherings where we sit under the preaching and authority of God’s Word and seek to build one another up to maturity in Christ.

Jon and his Growth Group (TGG Originals)

This December, carefully wrapped gifts are again slid underneath meticulously decorated Christmas trees while children eagerly lie awake on Christmas Eve. Streets are again brimming with the season’s makeover. But beyond this grandiose façade upon Christmas, I am reminded of the question I had not too long ago. Is forgiveness ever obligatory? No. For precisely as forgiveness is not an obligation, it is what it is. On Christmas, we celebrate the immeasurable forgiveness and mercy shown by God to undeserved sinners through His son’s voluntary coming into the fallen world, so that these sinners can be redeemed to live,  serve and bring God glory forevermore. Praise God!

Merry Christmas.

Posted on 27th December 2019