Earlier this week, we took a 15-plus-hour flight from Newark, NJ to Hong Kong. While the flight was not the most comfortable, I got to catch up with a few movies we had missed in the past months. One of them — and perhaps my favorite of flight — is “X-Men: First Class.”
Many of you know that I love “X-Men,” not necessarily for the dramas, actions or unique characters, but simply for the “idea” of “mutants with the X-gene.” And despite the clear secular agenda of Hollywood — “Mutant & Proud” as a shadow of gay pride — “X-Men: First Class” to me remains distinctively Christian.
The Christians are the ultimate heavenly mutants in a world of earthly beings.
They may share a similar set of appearance with their earthly counterparts, yet the core of their existence lies in an entirely different realm. They belong to a different kingdom, are made for the eternal city, and are on a pilgrimage towards another world. “My kingdom is not of this world,” said Jesus. Christians are thoroughly and radically different than the rest of the world. They are defiant, non-compromising and showing allegiance only to King Jesus.
While I have never been a frequent flyer, I have had my fair share of long flights since coming to America 20 years ago as a college student. As I sat with Emmett and Alethea on the flight, I explained to them how I “often felt lonely” on my previous flights to Hong Kong or Singapore. [In fact, the more I grew as a Christian, the lonelier I felt.] But it is all different now. They, together with Kathy and Theo who sat on a few rows ahead of us, have become my “mutant family,” who share with me the same pilgrimage and the source of life.
Indeed, we are to be a (mutant) family powered by the Gospel — the Life, Death & Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
This became more evident to me as Emmett and Alethea took turn to read the Bible — the ultimate mutant book — on Kindle. I told Alethea how proud I was of her as she approached the end of Revelation. She is scheduled to complete the Bible tomorrow and I promise her that I would get her a cake for celebration. Indeed, this is to be a definitive milestone in the life of a young mutant. And all mutant parents should really set their sight on it and set priority for it.
About 1.5 years ago, Emmett asked to sit in the English worship to listen to my sermons. Then about 1 year ago, Alethea began to do the same. It is all part of their growing as young mutants. The Bible — and the Gospel within — is to become everything to them. The Word of God will give them life: it will shape their existence, define their identity, build their values, and guide their paths. There would be no pursuing of this world, no chasing after money, sex and power. Instead, the Lord’s Prayer — seeking His kingdom and righteousness — is to be the singular focus of their lives.
There is no greater joy for me as a father to preach God’s Word to my own children. [Even Theo can now quietly sit through my hour-long sermons!] And in the providence of God, a growing number of children have come / been born to New City… kids we love and care, and kids I remember through my week as a pastor… Mattieu & Mark, Chris & Alex, Jessica & Angelina, Daniel & Jeffrey, Kevin & Anita, Samuel, Isabella, Jonah & Aaron, Ethan, Avery, Ezekiel… etc. So much of my pastoring has been shaped and motivated by the presence of these children. The Lord has gifted them to us that together with them we may grow as mutants for His glory.
It is for these mutant children (and others) that we first “dreamed up” the New City Young Scholar Program. It is an idea inspired by Professor Charles Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, i.e. mutants. The Young Scholar Program of course has absolutely nothing to do with intellectual gifted-ness but everything to do with living the Christian life as Christian mutants. In a way, the whole New City Church is to construed as mutant school. We are to be in this world and not of this world.
So dear mutants, mutant parents and young mutants, allow me to encourage you as the week draws to an end. Remember the Lord’s Day and set your hearts apart for King Jesus. May the Lord grant you hunger and thirst as you seek to accelerate your mutation this Lord’s Day.
We miss you greatly and pray that He will continue His great work in you in our absence.