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「另一個心志」講道系列

最大的巨人(The Greatest Giant)

「神的臨在和能力遠遠蓋過我們對巨人的恐懼。」

上週我們討論到葡萄和巨人,我們很容易因為巨人盛氣凌人而感到膽怯,忘記了神所應許的葡萄。在香港歷史上的這個關鍵時刻,神透過耶穌為我們預備另一個心志,將醫治和盼望帶給這破碎沮喪的世界。我們得以在疲乏世界昂首前行,以另一個心志活著。

但在應許之地裡,還有一個巨人,他能將教會冰封,帶來猶豫與困惑,強迫我們後退,落在意志消沉的陰影裡;那就是恐懼的巨人。自從社會運動、疫情和《港區國安法》實施,這種情緒已經牢牢籠罩著我們。身為基督徒的我們,也要與恐懼搏鬥。

我們若要以另一心志而活,就必須面對我們的恐懼。首先要明白幾件事:

一、恐懼是神所賜的情緒,本身並不是惡。恐懼會保護我們,使我們遠離危機和傷害,恐懼能讓我們安全地生活。

二、恐懼有兩種:理性的恐懼和非理性的恐懼。兩種恐懼都是重要的,兩者都很有力量。我們先要明辨我們的恐懼是哪一種,然後就能以積極的方法面對和處理我們的恐懼。敵人喜歡將理性的恐懼放大,然後將之扭曲,使我們最終害怕一些本不存在的東西。

三、恐懼是一種自然的情緒,源自我們生活的處境,我們不能完全免於恐懼。基督徒並不是追求一種毫無恐懼的生活,而是不要成為恐懼的奴隸。那些有另一個心志的人並不是沒有恐懼,但他們學懂了不讓恐懼左右他們最終的目標。

還記得上週文章的內容嗎?以色列人在應許之地外紮營,差派十二探子打探迦南地並回來報告。十二探子有兩方面的匯報:一方面,這地確實如神所應許般,土地肥沃、果實纍纍(葡萄);但另一方面,那裡的城鎮堅固,人身量高大(巨人)。其中十個探子著眼於那地的困難,散播令人驚恐的消息:「我們不能上去攻打那百姓。」另外兩個探子著眼於那地的果實以及神的能力:「我們必能征服它!」

那地的確障礙重重,城鎮堅固,那裡的人亦驍勇善戰。以色列人的恐懼是理性的,是合理的,巨人的確又大又令人害怕。但這理性的恐懼很快變得非理性──「我們像蚱蜢一樣。」(參民十三33)忽然大家都忘了這地的果實與應許,因這誇大的壞消息帶來了非理性的恐懼。



被巨人嚇怕了的我們

正如生命大部份的時候一樣,人多的那邊通常會勝出,結果令所有以色列人都陷入恐慌。他們在曠野長途跋涉,歷盡艱辛,最後竟然徒勞。他們被巨人嚇怕了,葡萄一點意義都沒有。他們首先喧嚷,繼而哭號。他們想要反抗,找個新領袖代替摩西,然後帶他們回到埃及。他們那非理性的恐懼居然令他們想要殺死摩西,回去當奴僕(參民十四1-4)。

這樣的事也同樣正在香港和世界上演嗎?社交媒體上許多的消息都引發眾人的恐懼,我們開始害怕一些本來就不真實的事;我們的時代出現許多非理性的恐懼,這恐懼不是由事實或客觀真相而來的,而是由大眾的意見而來的。這亦成為了這個時代的社會商品,恐懼彷如選擇的貨幣,如果你想推動一群人做些甚麼,用恐懼來推動他們往往比用愛來得更快。

恐懼讓我們產生受害者心態,我們的恐懼令我們想要為面臨的處境而怪責他人,這樣我們便成了受害者:都是他們害的,我的恐懼都是源於他們所做的事。我們寧可找代罪羔羊,也不願意為自己的情緒和感受負責任。面對恐懼的時候,怪責他人能讓我們得到片刻的解脫,但結果卻會造成更多的拆毀和痛苦。怪責他人會破壞關係,破壞合一,在群體中形成更深的分化。我們像以色列人一樣,甚至會開始埋怨神:「耶和華為甚麼要把我們領到那地,讓我們倒在刀下呢?」(民十四3,《和合本修訂版》,下同)若恐懼不受控,我們就會變成這樣,最終甚至可能會背叛神。而這樣做的時候,我們往往會發現自己正轉離自由,重回奴隸之路。

讓我以一個圖表來總結一下民數記十四章1-4節的恐懼循環:

障礙(巨人) 恐懼  埋怨  受害者心態  背叛  奴隸光景

由恐懼巨人轉為敬畏神

我們可以怎樣打破恐懼和怪責的循環?怎樣才可以避免成為哭哭啼啼地背叛神的受害者?

故事來到這裡有一個戲劇性的時刻,摩西和亞倫在以色列全會眾面前臉伏於地──不是向百姓降服,而是向神降服。當以色列人恨不得殺死摩西和亞倫,急不及待想回到埃及做奴隸時,摩西和亞倫卻來到神面前俯伏,表明他們不知道該如何回應,只知道他們需要神。他們以身示範,由恐懼巨人轉為敬託神。

當摩西和亞倫臉伏於地,約書亞和迦勒則站起來向以色列人說話:「我們所走過、所窺探之地是極美之地。」(民十四7)他們所放大的不是巨人,而是葡萄;神的應許比巨人更大。「耶和華卻與我們同在。不要怕他們!」(民十四9)他們想將百姓由恐懼的循環帶到去信心的循環之中。他們挑戰百姓,不可忘記神的應許,也提醒他們神在過去曾為他們所做的一切。要是他們願意將恐懼交託神,就能得著自由,因為神的臨在和能力,能遠遠蓋過他們對巨人的恐懼。

我們今天在香港也有這同樣的機會,我們可以透過擁抱信心的循環,從而打破恐懼的循環,就像在民數記十四章5-9節所記載的一樣。


障礙(巨人) 恐懼  承認自己需要神  抓緊應許  邀請祂臨在  得著自由

障礙仍然存在,而這些障礙仍然會令我們恐懼。然而,我們憑著信,可以走向另一個方向。當恐懼將我們引到一片埋怨聲中,我們反而要承認自己的需要,俯伏在神面前。我們認清自己的情緒,並求神在那裡與我們相遇。當恐懼引領我們去怪責他人,醞釀著自己的受害者心態,我們反而要宣認神的應許。當恐懼令我們背叛神,回歸作奴隸,我們反而要走向神,請祂臨在於我們的恐懼當中。唯有這樣,我們才能得著真自由。

我們作為香港教會,如今會否讓恐懼將我們帶離這片讓我們承受的土地?還是我們可以面對這恐懼,仍然憑信稱認這是極美之地,相信神的應許遠比我們所面對的巨人更大?

耶穌稱為以馬內利──神與我們同在──是有原因的:耶穌與我們同在,每時每刻。正因如此,我們可以克服恐懼。打破恐懼的循環,憑信勇敢向前行!

「另一個心志」講道系列文章。分題為編者所擬。)


英文原文:

The Greatest Giant


“God’s presence and power are far greater than the giants of our fear.”

Last week we talked about grapes and giants, and how easy it is to miss the grapes of God’s promise because of blustering, intimidating giants. At this critical time in Hong Kong’s history, God offers us through Jesus a different spirit that brings healing and hope to a broken and dispirited world. We are able to walk forward, heads held high, living in a different spirit before a watching and weary world.

But there is one giant in the Promised Land that has the power to freeze the church in its tracks, fill us with doubt and confusion, and force us to retreat into the shadows of irrelevancy and despondency. It is the giant of fear. This emotion has gripped our city since the onset of the social movement, Covid, and the National Security Law. We Christians are also wrestling with fear.

If we are to live with a different spirit, we must face our fears. And that begins with understanding several things:

1) Fear is a God-given emotion and is not evil in itself. Fear protects us from danger and harm. Fear often keeps us safe and alive.

2) There are two types of fears: rational fears and irrational fears. Both are important, and both have power. Discerning which we are dealing with will go a long way to helping us face our fears and process them in productive ways. The enemy loves to take rational fears and so amplify and distort them that we ultimately become afraid of something that simply isn’t there.

3) Because fear is a natural emotion that arises through circumstances in our lives, we will never be completely free from fear. The Christian life is not about being free from fear, it’s about not being a slave to fear. Those with a different spirit are not those who are free from fear, but those who have learnt to not let fear ultimately determine their destination.

You will recall from what I shared in last week’s article that Israel is camped before the Promised Land and Moses has sent twelve spies to bring back a report about the land. The twelve return with a two-fold report of the land. On the one hand it is filled with God’s promises and fruitfulness (the grapes). But on the other it has fortified cities and massive people (the giants).

Ten spies focus on the problems of the land and spread a fearful report. “We cannot move forward and conquer it.” Two spies focus on the fruitfulness of the land and on God’s power. “We can indeed conquer this land.”

There are indeed obstacles in the land. The cities are fortified and the people are well prepared for battle. Their fear is rational. Giants are big and scary. But this rational fear soon becomes irrational. “The giants are so huge that we are like grasshoppers.” Suddenly the fruitfulness of the land is forgotten in the grip of the irrational fear created by this exaggerated bad report.

But as is so often the case in life, the majority report wins the day and Israel as a whole becomes gripped in fear. Their long and painful trek through the wilderness has come to nothing. They are overwhelmed by the giants. The grapes mean nothing. They first grumble, then weep. They are thinking mutiny. They want to find a new leader to replace Moses and take them back to Egypt. Their irrational fear makes them ready to kill Moses and go back into slavery (Numbers 14:1-4).

Is this happening to us in Hong Kong and around the world? So much of the news feeds on our social media is fear-mongering and fear-inducing. We become fearful of something that isn’t actually true. The amount of irrational fear that is created by mass public opinion, not based on fact or objective truth, has become a social commodity of our times. And fear is the currency of choice. If you want to motivate a group of people to do something, fear will get you there a lot faster than love.

Fear creates a victim mentality in us. Our fear wants us to blame someone else for our circumstance. And we become victims. It is their fault, and our fear is a result of their actions. We look for a scapegoat to blame rather than take responsibility for our own emotions and feelings. Blaming others gives us temporary relief in the middle of a fear crisis, but it creates more destruction and pain. It breaks relationships, destroys unity, and creates deepening division in a community. Like the Israelites we even begin to blame God. “Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword?” This is what happens when fear goes unchecked in our lives. It ultimately leads us to rebel against God. And when this happens, we will always find ourselves heading away from freedom and towards slavery.

Let me summarise all of this through a diagram of what I call the fear cycle as seen in Numbers 14:1-4:

How can we break this cycle of fear and blame? How can we avoid becoming whimpering victims who rebel against God?

At this dramatic moment in our story, Moses and Aaron fall face down in front of the whole assembly of Israel—not to show submission to the people but to show their submission to God. When the Israelites want to kill Moses and Aaron and return to slavery in Egypt, Moses and Aaron throw themselves before God, acknowledging they don’t know how to respond in any other way than to declare their need for God. They physically demonstrate a shift from a fear of giants to a fear of the Lord.

While Moses and Aaron are face down on the floor, Caleb and Joshua stand up and address the people. “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good.” They magnify not the giants but the grapes. God’s promises are more powerful than the giants. “The Lord is with us. Do not be afraid!” (v 9) They tried to move the people from a cycle of fear to a cycle of faith. They challenge the people to remember God’s promises and all he has done for them in the past. If they are willing to give their fears to God, they can find freedom because God’s presence and power is far greater than the giants of their fear.

We have this same opportunity in Hong Kong today, to break the cycle of fear by embracing the cycle of faith as seen in Numbers 14:5-9.

The obstacles are still present, and these obstacles still create fear in us. But in faith we move in a different direction than before. Where fear leads us to complaining and grumbling, we instead acknowledge our need, face down before God. We recognise our emotions and invite God to meet us there. Where fear leads us to blame others and make ourselves a victim, we instead claim the promises of God. Where fear leads us to rebel against God and return to slavery, we instead move toward God by inviting his presence to be with us in our fear. This, and only this, can bring us to true freedom.

Will we as the church in Hong Kong in this hour allow fear to drive us away from our inheritance in this land? Or will we face our fear and declare that the land is still exceedingly good, and that God’s promises are far greater than the giants we face?

Jesus is called Immanuel, God with us, for a reason. Jesus is with us. Always. And because he is, we can overcome our fears.

Break the cycle of fear, and walk forward boldly in faith!

 

作者為The Vine主任牧師。


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