My name is Shih-Lien (Linus) Lu. I joined CEC in 1999 after moving to the area from Corvallis OR. Prior to 1999, I have taken a sabbatical year from Oregon State University and spent 1997-1998 in the Portland area. While our family was here during that time, we are part of the CEC family as well. In total we have been part of the CEC family for 25 years. My wife, Jenny, and I raised four boys in this church. Our second son, Caleb Lu, have served as the Youth Director in CEC previously. I have served God in various ministries within this church. My last service and the most enjoyable and rewarding ministry was as a children Sunday school teacher.
Tonight, I want to share with you two main lessons I have learned in my 25 years in CEC. These two lessons are based on two most used metaphors for church are:
“bride”: (Eph. 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.)
“body” (Eph. 1:22–23 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all; 1 Cor 12:12-14 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many.)
(Lesson #1) CEC, along with any other God-honoring church, is His own church, and He loves His church. He protects His beloved.
On the metaphor of “bride”
During my years of service to God, there were moments of concern for the church. In 2002, we transitioned to this new building, and due to various reasons, some members of the deacon board, including the chair at the time, left the church. We found ourselves without any pastoral staff, without a deaconate chair, and without half the deacons. Moreover, our church was grappling with a looming mortgage debt exceeding one million dollars. At that time God called me to serve as the deaconate chair. I must admit I did not accept that call willingly. Not only that I complained to God for putting me in that situation. There were sleepless nights and I worried that CEC would dissolve while I was the deacon chair. However, my worries were without ground, and I over-emphasized my role in thinking that I am responsible for His body. God loves His church as the bridegroom of bride. He took care of CEC for His name’s sake and His Providence was obvious then and now. He raised up His servants and protected CEC from enemy’s hands. I am thankful for what our Lord Christ has done for CEC, His church, in the past years. Of course, as a bride, we are to submit to Him. Being called as servants to lead in any manner should submit to Christ as the Lord as written in Col. 1:18 – “And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.” This means, I and each of us who serves, we need to seek His leadership constantly.
(Lesson #2) There are many members in the body, and we are to seek the good of others so the body will grow well.
On the metaphor of “body”
There are two parallel sayings in 1 Corinthians. First is in 6:12 ‘”All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.’ The second is in 10:23 ‘“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.’ This second verse follows with v24 ‘Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.’ CEC, like most of the ethnic churches (or more specific Chinese churches) in North America, comprise members from different backgrounds. We came from different part of the world. Our up-bringing is very distinct. Each one of accepted Christ as Lord under different circumstances. God has created us uniquely. Different part of His infinite characters and attributes has made impression on each of mind differently. To speak plainly we have different “theology”, and we have different “personality”. It is not easy to serve and live with someone who is very different from you. In the years I am with CEC, God has shown mercy to me. I may have offended people in these years. I want to ask for forgiveness if I have done so toward you. The key learning is that I need to consider and seek others, more than neighbors but my brothers and sisters, good. This is a lesson I continue to learn.
I thank God for these two important lessons I have learned and continue to learn.
新娘 (弗5:25-27 你們作丈夫的，要愛你們的妻子，正如基督愛教會，為教會捨己。 要用水藉著道把教會洗淨，成為聖潔， 可以獻給自己，作個榮耀的教會，毫無玷污、皺紋等類的病，乃是聖潔沒有瑕疵的。)
肢體（弗1:22-23 又將萬有服在他的腳下，使他為教會作萬有之首。 教會是他的身體，是那充滿萬有者所充滿的。）
哥林多前書中有兩句類似的話。第一句在6:12中說：“凡事我都可以做，但不都有益。凡事我都可以做，但我不會被任何事所控制。” 第二句在10:23中說：“凡事我都可以做，但不都有益。凡事我都可以做，但不都建立人。”接著在第24節說：“人不要只求自己的好處，也要求別人的好處。” CEC，像大多數北美的族裔教會（尤其是華人教會）一樣，由來自不同背景的成員組成。我們來自世界各地，我們的成長背景各異。我們每個人在不同的環境中接受了基督。上帝創造了我們獨特的個性。祂無限的特質和屬性在每個人的心靈中留下了獨特的印記。坦率地說，我們擁有不同的“神學”和不同的“個性”。與一個與你非常不同的人一起事奉和生活並不容易。在我與CEC度過的這些年裡，上帝對我施以憐憫。在這些年裡，我可能冒犯了一些人。如果我在這方面傷害了你，請接受我的道歉。關鍵的教訓是我需要更多地考慮和追求別人，不僅僅是鄰里，而且是我的兄弟姐妹的福祉。這是我持續學習的一課。