Regeneration (Susan Ong)

I come from a Christian family. Since young, my parents had already used the bible’s teaching to teach my siblings and I. I knew the kind of ‘Christian behaviour’ that was expected of me. I knew I had to behave in church and in front of the elderly, not swear and memorize bible verses etc. For example, if I had a quarrel with my sister, though it’s not my fault, my father still reproached me, because in his eyes, quarreling was wrong.
When I was a teenager, I did not have a good relationship with my father. My father is a devout Christian and a person of few words. I still remember, when I was young, me and my younger brother thought that father did not love us because he spent more time with the pastors than with us at home. We knew that he loved God, but did it mean he could neglect his family? Due to this misunderstanding and my strict family upbringing I gradually become a person who did not know how to express myself.
When I started thinking for myself, I felt uneasy with all the religious restrictions imposed on me. Why couldn’t I have my own standards and principles? Why do we need to love our enemies? Does it mean that as a Christian you have to love everyone - the good and the bad without discrimination? Though I still adhered strictly to the bible’s teaching, I only treated it as my duty. I still served in the church, but most of the time I did it to glorify myself and tried to get my parents’ approval. This made me really tired and soon after that my heart hardened, I became a Christian in name only.
When I was 17, I took part in the Sarawak Youth Christian Conference organized by the Methodist Church. During the conference, the preacher invited Christians from Christian families to examine our hearts, whether we had ever experienced God and whether we were born again. Since then, I started to think, ‘Am I a real Christian?’ And I started I looking for the answer, God did not give a clear answer immediately. Instead, He led me to experience Him, to find the things that were lacking in my Christian life.
Firstly, repentance: 1 John 1: 9 said that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. In front of others, I was a perfect Christian. But deep down inside my heart, there were many things no one knew such as self-righteousness, arrogance, etc. I knew that these were sins as well, but I despised God’s grace. I thought that since God is so merciful, I only needed to repent though prayer, and that would be enough. I never thought that I would need to seriously forsake everything. At the conference, through the calling of the preacher, I repented from my heart. My tears kept falling; I felt I was a sinner, not worthy of His love. I had taken His love for granted.
Secondly, receiving Christ as my Saviour. God does not want a “Sunday Christian”, He does not want Christians inside the church only, what He wants is a victorious Christian who lives their Christian life 7 days a week. This can only be achieve if He is your Saviour. Though I can pretend to be a perfect Christian in front of everyone, I can’t pretend when I’m alone. Only when Christ is my Saviour can I have this faith and power to glorify Him.
Thirdly, receiving the Holy Spirit. I was baptized when I was young but I had never experienced the Holy Spirit. When I repented, and received Christ as my Saviour, only then I really experienced Him. He encouraged me through His words. There’s a verse that I really remember: Ephesians 6: 6 “Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart”. Every time I forgot to serve Him wholeheartedly, the Holy Spirit reminded me through this verse.
These changes are not external, but from the heart. If not because of His love, I would not have this courage and the power to overcome. Now, my relationship with my father has changed, I started to approach and to talk to my father, and got to know him more. He was really pleased to see me praying in the church every Sunday but longed also for a restored relationship with my younger brother. Now I can even write to him and tell him that I love him. All these changes began with the heart, when I’m willing to serve Him and to love with all my heart, I will experience Him more. Therefore, I thank God, for He gave me the chance to know Him since I was young and to receive His salvation when I grew up. Amen.