In the advent of Christmas, the scene of Nativity in the Bible is being visualized and presented as a commercial product all around the country- whether it is in the cinema, at the shopping mall or on e-cards. Amid the worry that the original and divine message from Nativity might have been secularized and lost, the author of the "A Biography of Jesus – A Brief Guide to Key Events in His Life" Dr. Tom Cowley, once again, challenges Christians today with that message.
The True Message from Nativity
As a scholar of the teaching and life of Jesus, Cowley emphasizes on both the divinity and the human nature of Christ. Cowley quoted Matthew 5 where Jesus said, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them," therefore the birth of Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Testament’s Messianic promises. And in that promise, God had a special purpose in sending His one and only son to this earth.
"Not only his birth is the fulfillment of God’s law, it is the bringing of the Logos- the word of God- for mankind in need of truth so that we know how to live," Cowley explained.
"And the bottom line of Jesus’ teachings is Agape love, which is a new type of love that Jesus spoke of in the Upper Room. Jesus said to give us a new commandment – to love one another as I have loved you – a new type of love that first thinking about other people and what would benefit them."
Cowley also insisted that God’s absolute will and purpose for the birth of Jesus has already been set at the beginning of the universe. In his book "A Biography of Jesus – A Brief Guide to Key Events in His Life", the first event described was from John 1, "at the beginning, the Word was with God … the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us."
"God made the decision that He would bring His word, reveal His word to mankind through his one and only son Jesus Christ," Cowley testified.
How the Message Relates to Christian Life
As the chairman of the Young Disciples of Jesus International, an emerging evangelical mission ministry, Cowley is very hopeful and excited to see how God has moved the heart of thousands of young people worldwide to fulfill the Great Commission. He wants to exhort Young Disciples worldwide to meditate deeply at this special season.
"Meditation is actually about learning to walk with Jesus, and I would encourage all of us who are Christians to find the closer walk with Jesus," he said.
"Each of us has really little to do with where we are born and what the environment is," Cowley suggested. Therefore, Cowley urged YD members to always remember that they are walking with Jesus- a close friend of theirs- who wants to reach out and help them discover their talents, their gifts. Through that, they will be able to understand how they have been planted in a certain place in the world for the Kingdom of God and what God is asking them to do next year.
Other than this inward journey of meditation, YD members are also reminded to go on an outward journey, where they try to live a life of joy and peace that bears the fruits of the Holy Spirit mentioned in Galatians, including love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Sharing the Life of Jesus with Christians in Asia
Two months ago, Cowley and his wife Karen were invited for a week-long Asia Tour and met with YD members from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, and other Southeast Asian countries. The tour, which they consider a "rich blessing", has provided a special opportunity for the Cowley’s to touch the lives of YD members in Asia so closely.
"I felt really loved and I felt that the excitement and the joy of the people I met was exceeding. It was exciting to see them respond to the calling to walk with the Lord," Cowley shared.
Cowley highly anticipates the mission development in Asia, "I believe that Asia will be the rest of the world to be reached by Jesus Christ. China is in a unique position; it has tremendous witnesses in the world and in the Islamic world. And I think Korea is a light of hope in the world."
Furthermore, Cowley expressed that he would extend his support for YD, saying that he and his wife are praying for how they would encourage or lift it up.
"I return with great excitement that I think the fields are truly white with harvest in Asia, and I think that the heart of Asian Christians is so wonderful and so deep. I know God will bless everyone’s hard work in the kingdom," he concluded.
Cowley appreciates and acknowledges how the YD movement has founded and set up, "I believe the basic organization of YD, which is small groups, this is the spine, the strength and the foundation of Christian faith … the heart of the gospel is small groups of people living together, studying the word, praying and encouraging each other, and that is the heart of our YD movement."
For the coming New Year, Cowley encouraged YD members to "stay true to the heart", and strike out to multiply their groups, remain true in the word and encourage each other. They must also "be bold" while being "courteous" in sharing the Gospel.
Young Disciples of Jesus was first established in China 10 years ago. In 1996, two Chinese American missionaries pioneered Shanghai, and and shared the Gospel with a few students at Fudan University. By the great grace of God, a small bible study group formed up, and many thirsty souls came and listened to the word of God. The breath of the Holy Spirit entered them and the seed of the Gospel was firmly planted in their hearts. Now YD has been established in over 20 countries, including Hong Kong, the United States, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, Nepal, Cambodia, Germany, Mexico, Canada and others. YD is believed to be the first youth fellowship founded in China and dispatches Chinese missionaries to the world.