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「另一个心志」讲道系列

葡萄还是巨人?(Grapes or Giants?)

「要有另一个心志,就要跟别人看见不一样的事。我们要看见葡萄,而不是巨人。」

「另一个心志」系列共有五篇,来到第二周,我们再一次回到民数记十三至十四章,以色列人与应许之地的故事。这群重获自由的希伯来奴仆,如今在约旦河边、迦南地外扎营,而这正是四百年前雅各因着饥荒而带着全家离开的地方。神应许他的后裔将有一天可以回到这里──神原本应许将这地赐给亚伯拉罕和撒拉──要万国也因他们得福。这地也正是多个世纪之后,耶稣将好信息传给众人的地方。

由埃及到迦南,由作奴仆被奴役到得享平安,由一百人到几万人⋯⋯但如今他们要面临最严峻的考验。他们能战胜迦南吗?

摩西是一个有智慧的领袖。他知道百姓的需要──他们没有见过这应许之地,所以想要知道真实且确切的资讯。他拣选了十二个人,包括迦勒和约书亚,去打探迦南地的情况(民十三17-20)。四十天之后,这十二探子带着一大挂葡萄回来,葡萄大得要两个人用槓枱着,并向以色列人回报。十二探子对两件事情口径一致:一、这地与神所应许的一样,「果然是流奶与蜜之地;这就是那地的果子。」(民十三27)二、他们对那地的人的描述也一致:「那地的民强壮,城邑也坚固宽大。……我们在那里所看见的人民都身量高大。」(民十三28-32)他们回报了关于「葡萄」和「巨人」的事。「葡萄」反映出神的应许──这地果然正如神所说的那样土地肥沃。「巨人」则指进入那地的困难──在他们承受这地之前,要先面对一些难关。

迦勒和约书亚回来,专注在葡萄上:「我们立刻上去得那地吧!我们足能得胜。」(民十三30)但大多数的探子──其中十位──却专注在巨人上:「我们不能上去攻击那民,因为他们比我们强壮。」(民十三31)他们的恐惧驱使他们在民中散播令人惧怕的谣言。「我们所窥探、经过之地是吞吃居民之地,我们在那里所看见的人民都身量高大。」(民十三32)

试想像一下,以色列人当时会怎样理解「葡萄」和「巨人」?葡萄很细小,每一粒都毫不起眼;但一挂葡萄,却令人印象深刻。一挂葡萄成为活生生的、可见的证据,证明神没有向以色列人说谎,那应许之地确实是流奶与蜜之地,而葡萄则代表了这件事的可信性。这就是神要赐给我们的。

巨人却是葡萄的相反。我们也不难想像,他们高大、令人畏惧,单是他们巨大的身型已经全然阻挡我们的视线。当以色列人想像到远处的巨人,就把眼前的葡萄忘得一干二净。

这是我们必须牢记的:在神的应许之地,永远都会有巨人。巨人会阻挡我们,使我们看不见、接收不到神的恩典。巨人遮挡着神的应许,歪曲我们所看到的现实。巨人就是会妨碍我们看见那美地的应许,而令我们想放弃承继那地。

「对我们而言,香港就是神为我们所预备的地方,要我们在这里承继他的礼物,活出福音。」但现实是,在香港这里,什至全个世界的人,其实都在面对时代的巨人。这些巨人是个人的,也是公共的;是神圣的,也是世俗的;全球的疫症、政权的转换、少数族群的边缘化、经济的不稳定等。事实上,我们常常在社交媒体上都会看见「巨人的技俩」:我们以为能引起巨大迴响的事情就是正确。当我们看见数千、什至数百万人「赞好」某个选项,我们便以为那必然是正确的选择。这就是社交媒体的危险之处,Facebook、Instagram、YouTube、抖音上的演算法均是如此。最大声的、最多人赞好的,就为之胜出。在讲求声量和出现次数的社交媒体,往往会淹没一些微小的声音,有时也淹没了真理的声音。

拥有另一个心志的人会明白,神的真理来到我们当中,大小就像颗葡萄,而不是像个巨人。就如耶稣所说:「天国好像一粒芥菜种⋯⋯天国好像面酵,藏在三斗面里⋯⋯像匠人所弃的石头⋯⋯」拥有另一个心志的人,无论如何都会捉紧葡萄,即使它比起巨人显得多么细小。我们要持续竭力用心聆听神真理的声音,在世界嘈杂纷乱的意见中,他的声音是平静、细小的。我们总会遇见那些盛势咆吼的巨人,叫我们要快点逃跑,快点躲起来。但我们看得见葡萄吗?

上周我在第一篇文章里说到,我们的福音正站在香港历史的转捩点上。这是一个关键时刻,教会要么带着福音的盼望前进,要么在恐惧与自我保护之中畏缩。神想我们看见面前的土地,但也不要对巨人全然无知。十二个探子都看得见巨人,包括约书亚和迦勒也看得见。神要我们看得见巨人,但同样也想我们选择专注在葡萄之上。神邀请我们一起思考,这城所经历的社会和文化事件,到底有何属灵意义?我们用这另一个心志,就能建立一种属灵眼光,帮助我们从神的角度理解世界所发生的事,理解文化的影响,以及理解很关键的社会公义问题。当我们真的看见这地,我们就能兑现神的应许,作个勇敢的天国子民。

这就是为什么我们作为神的子民、作为天国公民,要聚在一起,成为教会。当我们聚集,我们便一同尝到主恩的滋味。我们在过去的一周,可能打仗也打得累了,我们经历了很多;然而,我们作为神的子民,就能同尝葡萄。我们一同品尝救恩的甘甜,经历关系的转化。我们可以与别人一起,经历我们跟耶稣那丰硕的关系,也能彼此鼓励,互相提醒弟兄姊妹要在家里、工作场所和学校里作天国子民。我们带着心里涌流着的甘甜离开教会,这些就成为动力,让我们可以带着另一个心志进到我们日常的影响範围。葡萄的滋味,成为我们争战的动力,不只是在星期日,而在全个星期的每一刻。我们希望身边的人也能尝到耶稣宽恕和恩典的甘甜,我们看到了,也尝过了神的工作,我们带着惊奇与喜乐,希望其他人能看见、能尝。

作为香港教会,我们不要让巨人──不论是个人还是公共的巨人──决定我们的未来。凭借神的恩典,我们有另一个心志。我们要睁开双眼,再次看清神对这地的应许,就是他早透过耶稣的生死复活所赐给我们的。葡萄跟巨人比起来,看似细小又微不足道,但我们是他的新娘,是他所拣选的,是他的宝血所救赎的。我们是他国里的子民和大使。

愿葡萄的甘甜成为我们的动力,使我们有力面对未来的巨人。如今我们要换上另一个心志,要看到巨人身后的美地,捉紧葡萄的应许。我们要冲破障碍,拥抱应许。让我们竭力传扬福音,与神一起在我们所爱的这城里创造未来。

正如摩西问那十二探子,让我也谦卑地问:你在这应许之地,看到了什么?

「另一个心志」讲道系列文章。)


英文原文:

Grapes or Giants?


“In order to hold a different spirit, we need to see something different to everyone else. We need to see grapes instead of giants.”

In part 2 of our 5-week series on having ‘A Different Spirit’, we once again visit the story of Israel and the Promised land from Numbers 13-14. The liberated Hebrew slaves are camped across the Jordan River, just outside Canaan, a land Jacob and his family left during a famine 400 years before. God promised that their grandchildren would one day return to this land—the land God originally promised to Abraham & Sarah—so that through them all nations would be blessed. This is the land where the story of Jesus will many centuries later become Good News for all people everywhere.

From Egypt to Canaan. From slavery to shalom. From a hundred people to many thousands. But now comes their supreme test. Can they conquer the land?

Moses is a wise leader. He knows the people need real, concrete information about this land that none of them has ever seen. He chooses twelve men, including Caleb and Joshua, to spy out the land (Numbers 13:17-20). The 12 spies return after 40 days with a massive cluster of grapes, so large it took two men to carry it, and a report of the land to all of Israel. All 12 spies report the same two things – first, the land is exactly as God promised. “It does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit.” Second, they agree about the people of the land: “They are very powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw giants.” Their report was of ‘grapes’ and ‘giants’. The ‘grapes’ speak of the promises of God - that the land is indeed as fertile as He had told them. The ‘giants’ speak of the problems in the land - that there are obstacles before them in their waiting inheritance.

Caleb and Joshua return focused on the grapes: “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” But the overwhelming majority of the spies—ten of them—come back focused on the giants: “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are” (v 30-31). Their fear causes them to spread scary rumours among the people. “We scouted out the land from one end to the other—it’s a land that swallows people whole. Everybody we saw was huge” (v 32 MSG).

Imagine what it would have been like for Israel to learn of these ‘grapes’ and ‘giants’. Grapes are small, each one insignificant. But as a cluster, as a collective, they are quite impressive. They are the living, tangible proof that God has not been lying to the Israelites. The land they have been promised is indeed a fruitful land. The grapes represent the true reality of the situation. This is what God is giving us.

The giants are the towering, overwhelming opposite of the grapes. These Giants are not hard to imagine. They are massive and intimidating. By their sheer size they block out everything else. When the people imagine the giants far away they quickly forget about the grapes hanging right in front of their eyes.

Here is what we all need to know: there will always be giants in the land of God’s promises. Giants are the obstacles that keep us from seeing and receiving God’s grace. Giants obscure God’s promises and give us a flawed perception of reality. Giants are designed to overshadow the promised reality of the land so we give up on our inheritance altogether.

“For us, Hong Kong is the place God has chosen for us in which to inherit his gift and live out the gospel.” But the reality is that right here in Hong Kong, and throughout the world, we are facing massive giants in this time we are in. These giants are personal and public, sacred and secular. A global pandemic, shifting political power, marginalization of ethnic minority groups, economic uncertainty. In fact we see ‘giant tactics’ all the time on our social media feeds. We have come to believe that volume and size equal truth. When we see that thousands or even millions of people ‘like’ a particular opinion, we find ourselves beginning to believe that it must indeed be true. This is the danger of social media, of algorithms on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok and the like. The loudest and most liked voices win. Volume and frequency drown out smaller voices, sometimes the voices of truth.

Those with a different spirit understand that God’s truth often comes to us in the size of a grape, not in the size of a giant. As Jesus said, “The Kingdom of God is like a tiny mustard seed…like a small bit of yeast in a large amount of dough…like a stone the builders rejected…” Those with a different spirit seize the grapes no matter how small they might appear against the giants. We constantly strain to hear the still, small voice of God’s truth amidst the howling wind of worldly opinion. There will always be loud, blustering giants, telling us to run and hide. But do we see the grapes?

In my first article last week I said we are at an inflection point for the gospel in the history of Hong Kong. This is a critical time where the church will either move forward with the hope of the gospel, or shrink back in fear and self-protection. God wants us to see the land around and ahead of us, and not be ignorant about the giants. All 12 spies saw the giants together, including Joshua and Caleb. God wants us to see the giants, but together to decide to focus on the grapes. God invites us to ponder the spiritual significance of the social and cultural issues in our city. With a different spirit we can develop the spiritual discipline that helps us see world affairs, cultural influences, and the critical social justice issues in God’s perspective. As we truly see the land, we are able to claim God’s promises and to live boldly as Kingdom citizens.

This is why we gather as church, as God’s people, as Kingdom citizens. When we meet we taste the goodness of the Lord together. We may be battle-weary from the past week, tired from all we have gone through and experienced. Together with God’s people we taste the grapes. We savour the sweetness of salvation as relationships are being transformed. With others we encounter the fruitfulness of our relationship with Jesus, and we encourage each other to be Kingdom citizens in our homes, workplaces and schools. We leave our gatherings with the sweetness dripping on our lips and flowing in our hearts. And that is the fuel that gives us a different spirit in our spheres of influence. The taste of the grapes becomes the fuel for our battles, not just on Sunday, but every moment of the week. We want others around us to also taste the sweet grapes of Jesus’ forgiveness and grace. We taste and see what God is doing – and in our amazement and joy, we want others to taste and see as well.

As the church of Hong Kong, we must not allow the giants, personal or public, to determine our future. By God’s grace we have a different spirit in us. We must open our eyes again to see God’s promises in this land, given to us through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. The grapes can seem small and insignificant against the size of the giants, but we are his bride, chosen by him, redeemed by his blood. We are a citizens and ambassadors for his Kingdom.

May the sweetness of the grapes gives us fuel to battle whatever giants may come. Now is the time for a different spirit, to see beyond the giants to seize the grapes. To move past the problems and embrace the promises. To share Good News as we collaborate with God in creating a new future for this city we love.

So like Moses asked the 12 spies, let me humbly ask you - what do you see in this land of promise?

 

作者为The Vine主任牧师。


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