Being a Christian is Serious Business
Posted on 18 Nov 2021 by CERC
“I knew that if I didn’t belong to a church, I would be everywhere else but not in the household of God. Being apart from God’s people is like being a limb detached from one’s body; it will eventually rot.”
This realisation was what drove Tan Kok Keong to commit to CERC as a member.
Hailing from Melaka, I grew up in a family influenced by Taoism and Chinese folk religion. My aunt, however, was a Christian and would often invite my family to church. I couldn’t understand much at that time as the church services I attended were conducted in the Hokkien dialect.
I didn’t give much thought to Christianity until one day when I decided to come forward during an altar call at a Christmas event. Despite not truly grasping what it means to be saved by Jesus at that time, I considered myself a Christian from that moment onwards.
After that altar call, I started attending more church gatherings, which roused the suspicion of my father who was strongly opposed to Christianity. As I was only 15 then and relied heavily on my parents for transport, my father’s opposition meant I could no longer join as many church gatherings as I used to. That changed once I got my driver’s license and was able to move around freely.
I decided to settle down in a Baptist church near my house. My understanding of God and the Bible was, however, still rather shallow even after being there for a year or two. I eventually came to the conclusion that Christianity was just another way to be a good person. Sin, to me, was about doing acts of wrongdoings rather than an inherent inability in myself to conform to God’s character and commands.
This perception changed when I officially attended CERC in 2018. My first encounter with CERC was in 2015 through my sister, Steffie, who was already a member of CERC by then. She invited me to events, one of which was CERC Camp. The camp titled “Mission: I am 73” challenged my understanding of Christianity. I felt like I had not been truly reflecting on my life, and on my new identity in Christ as a Christian who is now saved to serve.
At that time, I was based in Johor for my further studies. It was difficult for me to attend church regularly then, which made me cold and sluggish towards the Word. Despite my initial plans to return to Melaka, I eventually went on to do my internship in KL and started attending Sunday gatherings at CERC.
Compared to me, they were experienced and well-versed in everything when it came to the Bible… I felt a huge gap between myself and the church, and at some point, I hesitated to participate in conversations as I felt that, the more I talked, the more it exposed my illiteracy and shallow thinking of the Word.
However, as I attended the gatherings more regularly, I came to realise that it was not that the people in CERC were elite Christians; it was that they worked hard at applying a biblical understanding of Christianity. That understanding drove them to take their lives as Christians seriously, and that meant forsaking certain pleasures in life. CERC was not some magic school that transformed people to be mature Christians. I realised that everything in CERC was so intentional: from the program flow to even the event titles. For instance, in CERC, we use ‘Resurrection Sunday’ rather than the more commonly known “Easter Sunday” because of the theological meaning attached. ‘Praise and worship’ is referred to as ‘songs’ in CERC, because all aspects of the Sunday gathering is worship unto God, not just the singing.
I realised then that being a Christian is serious business.
Having attended CERC for some time, I had the privilege of going through the books of Hebrews and Matthew and even learned to read the Old Testament and New Testament in a Biblical-Theological manner. It occurred to me after some reflection that I had wasted many years not knowing God’s Word. Instead of wallowing in regret, my only solution is to pick up as much as I can to catch up.
I have matured much as a Christian in CERC and am truly appreciative of CERC’s efforts in maturing me and carrying out the mission of spreading the gospel in the Klang Valley. This is why after attending the gatherings in CERC for only a year, I made the decision to commit to being a member of CERC. I knew that if I didn’t belong to a church, I would be anywhere but the household of God.
Being apart from God’s people is like being a limb detached from one’s body; it will eventually rot.
Apart from learning what membership and church are about, going through the membership course also widened my perspective on church history and the church today. I still struggle with feeling inferior, especially among the English-speaking members (Chinese is my first language), but I am trying to not let that be an obstacle. The Ephesians series, which CERC covered not too long ago, taught me that even Gentiles and Jews who are so different, are actually the same in God’s eyes – they are His elect.
We are either a member of the household of God, or we are not. Cultural differences among us should not be a stumbling block but rather, we should be united, serving God and one another as a family in Christ.
If you have been encouraged by Kok Keong’s testimony, do consider joining us to learn from God’s word through our Growth Groups or Sunday sermons! You can also check out Our Stories and CERC News to get to know us better.Kok Keong Tan
Kok Keong currently works as a civil engineer and is a member of the Cheras Growth Group led by David Kuok.