Being Korean-American kids of immigrant parents living in middle to upper-middle class suburbia typically means several things:
- Parents show their love for you by working really hard. They have sacrificed a ton in hopes that you will be successful and financially secure.
- Life is about school, grades, extracurricular activities so that you can get into ...
- College! (the promised land) ... for more school and grades so you can ...
- Get an awesome job that will make the parents proud, make money, attain security ...
But then what?! ... And for what?!
Youth try to meet spoken and unspoken family expectations and social pressures. It's very difficult for them to recognize that the goal of life is not self-indulgence and success and security through education, money, and power. Our God-given purpose is to be so transformed by His grace for us in Christ that we are compelled to love and serve our world.
The ONE Conference (started in 1997 and formerly called "Firm Foundation") is an annual 2–day event built around understanding the one life, one body, and one calling we have in Christ. We hope the youth catch this glimpse of God's profound purpose for lovingly creating them, redeeming them into His family, and equipping them with education and opportunities so that they can fan out into the world pursuing justice, restoration and the common good of all people in all areas of life.
it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."
God gives us each one life to live
Psalm 139 poetically describes how God lovingly knew us and each day of the life He gave us before we were even born. We were "intricately woven" and "knit together" ... "fearfully (reverently) and wonderfully made" by Him! This is reason for awe, joy and worship. But we also know that we and this world are often broken and suffering because of sin. Ephesians 2 tells us, "You were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world ... but God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved." God is not only our Maker, but also our Healer, Restorer and Savior; and by the Holy Spirit who lives in us, He empowers us to live for Him! That is more reason to rejoice!
God made us meaningful, purposeful parts of the body of Christ
You and I are not meant to live this God-given life alone! Being a part of the body of Christ means being one with all believers in all the world because each has been reconciled to Christ, and to one another through Him. It means holding the most important thing—the Gospel—in common though we may be different in every other way. Wherever we live, we are able to experience and mature in the life of this Christian community most visibly, personally and regularly as participating members of our local churches.
Themes like "belonging to one another", "unity in diversity", "adoption into family", "oneness", "equal worth" are hugely important traits that define what it means to be body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 12 has a lot to say about this awesome truth. We are each distinct, but important and useful members of a whole like the body whose head is Christ. We are legitimate, connected and supported. As a part of this body, we enjoy meaningful relationship, trust, care, accountability, growth, and encouragement made possible through the reconciling blood of Christ that paid for all our divisiveness. So now, "If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together." It's a beautiful thing, no? It's so different from the way things usually are in the world. The body of Christ is supposed to be different.
In this body, we are also all individually given varieties of gifts and abilities from God just as He sees fit ... to use in serving others! No gift or person is better than another. No gift or person is too small or insignificant. All are valuable, even essential. Gifts like healing or speaking in tongues get so much attention sometimes ... but did you know that gifts like wisdom, knowledge, teaching, administrating, faith and helping are all equally given by God? But more than all these, the Bible teaches us that the greatest gift that He gives to us all is love.
God calls us to live for His glory by loving Him and serving our world
In Jesus' time, people had a ton of laws and rules they supposedly needed to keep in order to be good Jews ... way more added-on ones than what was originally in scripture. So in Matthew 22, Jesus is asked by a lawyer trying to entrap him, "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" And Jesus boiled it all down and replied, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets." The same applies today for the body of Christ.
Why and how we live now set us on a course and impacts the future. Setting our hearts today on loving God and loving our neighbor matter. This world is our neighborhood and all the people in it are our neighbors. We can glorify God by loving and serving those in our families, schools, activities, work and communities. We can glorify God through our studies and hard work—dreaming, preparing and planning ahead to love God and our neighbors in the future ... to mature as men and women of God pursuing justice, restoration and the common good.
As a community of believers, how might we spend our lives—educations, talents, time, hopes and affinities—in ways that honor God and passionately take part in His redemptive purpose in His world? There are so, so many ways!