From Mar 12 through 14, China Evangelical Seminary, Campus Evangelical Fellowship, MICI, Taiwan Baptist Theological Seminary and Campus Evangelical Fellowship jointly held “The 20th Stephen Tong Theology and Pastoral Seminar” at the auditorium of Taipei Municiple Zhongshan Girls High School and Faith Chinese Presbyterian church.
This theme of this year’s seminar is “The Love and Hate of Christians.” The first two are seminars on theology, and the last seminar is focused on ministering. In the pastoral seminar, most of the participants are church workers or seminary students of China Evangelical Seminary.
Pastor Tong said, “Jesus taught us two commandments: first, you have to learn to love one another; second, you have to diligently preach the gospel. If you fulfill these two qualifications, then you do not fit to be an apostle. A seminary professor is not a source of stable income. If you really love the Lord, then establish a believer’s life. In the last chapter of John, Jesus told Peter saying, ‘If you really love me, feed my lamb’.”
How to love others?
“We love others because we love God. In another words, because we love God, we have the strength to love others, so God is the source of love.”Maybe we have tried very hard to love those that we hate, and love them with our love for the Lord. However, Pastor Tong explained, “Our love towards God changes and grows cold, but the love that Lord has for us never changes, so you must pray saying, Lord, allow me to love others as you love me.”
“Is it easy for us to love others? It is not easy. We often hear others say, this is just who I am, if you treat me right, then I will treat you right. If you mistreat me, then I will treat you 5 times worse then how you treat me. This is not something that someone else says. Rather, it is something that we, ourselves say. ” Said pastor Tong.
“Since the fall of man, love became passive, but hate became the driving force. We like to love those people who are loveable or similar to us. But even if you don’t love these people, they will still be loved by many others. The bible teaches us that, “If you only love those who love you, what reward is there? Does not even the tax collectors do this?” Love is not to enjoy, but it is to sacrifice and to satisfy others. The love that we know is pleasure, loving a loveable person is pleasure. Look at Jesus, when he was looking for disciples, he purposely placed different types of people together, allowing to grow in love with one another.”
Pastor Tong gave another example. During the period when seminaries would divide the student in the dormitories, a very common way of dividing is to place similar type of people together. For example, those who are neat and tidy are placed with those that are neat and tidy, and those who like peace and quietness are placed together with those who like peace and quietness. However, an important discovery was found. It is that greater love can be revealed when the talkative students are placed with shy students, and tidy students are placed with untidy students. The reason is because that in the future these students can adjust to different types of people, and it will be easier for them to serve in a church.
“A real evangelist is one who sees the needs of other, and offers to help before they say anything.”
After the gathering, Pastor Tong invited those who has been touched to pray out loud, many pastoral workers all prayed in tears, repenting of their past insufficiencies of not really loving others, and many of them were determined to become a God-loving, people-loving evangelist, asking God to give them courage and strength.