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「另一个心志」讲道系列

最大的巨人(The Greatest Giant)

「神的临在和能力远远盖过我们对巨人的恐惧。」

上周我们讨论到葡萄和巨人,我们很容易因为巨人盛气凌人而感到胆怯,忘记了神所应许的葡萄。在香港历史上的这个关键时刻,神透过耶稣为我们预备另一个心志,将医治和盼望带给这破碎沮丧的世界。我们得以在疲乏世界昂首前行,以另一个心志活着。

但在应许之地里,还有一个巨人,他能将教会冰封,带来犹豫与困惑,强迫我们后退,落在意志消沉的阴影里;那就是恐惧的巨人。自从社会运动、疫情和《港区国安法》实施,这种情绪已经牢牢笼罩着我们。身为基督徒的我们,也要与恐惧搏斗。

我们若要以另一心志而活,就必须面对我们的恐惧。首先要明白几件事:

一、恐惧是神所赐的情绪,本身并不是恶。恐惧会保护我们,使我们远离危机和伤害,恐惧能让我们安全地生活。

二、恐惧有两种:理性的恐惧和非理性的恐惧。两种恐惧都是重要的,两者都很有力量。我们先要明辨我们的恐惧是哪一种,然后就能以积极的方法面对和处理我们的恐惧。敌人喜欢将理性的恐惧放大,然后将之扭曲,使我们最终害怕一些本不存在的东西。

三、恐惧是一种自然的情绪,源自我们生活的处境,我们不能完全免于恐惧。基督徒并不是追求一种毫无恐惧的生活,而是不要成为恐惧的奴隶。那些有另一个心志的人并不是没有恐惧,但他们学懂了不让恐惧左右他们最终的目标。

还记得上周文章的内容吗?以色列人在应许之地外扎营,差派十二探子打探迦南地并回来报告。十二探子有两方面的汇报:一方面,这地确实如神所应许般,土地肥沃、果实纍纍(葡萄);但另一方面,那里的城镇坚固,人身量高大(巨人)。其中十个探子着眼于那地的困难,散播令人惊恐的消息:「我们不能上去攻打那百姓。」另外两个探子着眼于那地的果实以及神的能力:「我们必能征服它!」

那地的确障碍重重,城镇坚固,那里的人亦骁勇善战。以色列人的恐惧是理性的,是合理的,巨人的确又大又令人害怕。但这理性的恐惧很快变得非理性──「我们像蚱蜢一样。」(参民十三33)忽然大家都忘了这地的果实与应许,因这夸大的坏消息带来了非理性的恐惧。



被巨人吓怕了的我们

正如生命大部份的时候一样,人多的那边通常会胜出,结果令所有以色列人都陷入恐慌。他们在旷野长途跋涉,历尽艰辛,最后竟然徒劳。他们被巨人吓怕了,葡萄一点意义都没有。他们首先喧嚷,继而哭号。他们想要反抗,找个新领袖代替摩西,然后带他们回到埃及。他们那非理性的恐惧居然令他们想要杀死摩西,回去当奴仆(参民十四1-4)。

这样的事也同样正在香港和世界上演吗?社交媒体上许多的消息都引发众人的恐惧,我们开始害怕一些本来就不真实的事;我们的时代出现许多非理性的恐惧,这恐惧不是由事实或客观真相而来的,而是由大众的意见而来的。这亦成为了这个时代的社会商品,恐惧彷如选择的货币,如果你想推动一群人做些什么,用恐惧来推动他们往往比用爱来得更快。

恐惧让我们产生受害者心态,我们的恐惧令我们想要为面临的处境而怪责他人,这样我们便成了受害者:都是他们害的,我的恐惧都是源于他们所做的事。我们宁可找代罪羔羊,也不愿意为自己的情绪和感受负责任。面对恐惧的时候,怪责他人能让我们得到片刻的解脱,但结果却会造成更多的拆毁和痛苦。怪责他人会破坏关系,破坏合一,在群体中形成更深的分化。我们像以色列人一样,什至会开始埋怨神:「耶和华为什么要把我们领到那地,让我们倒在刀下呢?」(民十四3,《和合本修订版》,下同)若恐惧不受控,我们就会变成这样,最终什至可能会背叛神。而这样做的时候,我们往往会发现自己正转离自由,重回奴隶之路。

让我以一个图表来总结一下民数记十四章1-4节的恐惧循环:

障碍(巨人) 恐惧  埋怨  受害者心态  背叛  奴隶光景

由恐惧巨人转为敬畏神

我们可以怎样打破恐惧和怪责的循环?怎样才可以避免成为哭哭啼啼地背叛神的受害者?

故事来到这里有一个戏剧性的时刻,摩西和亚伦在以色列全会众面前脸伏于地──不是向百姓降服,而是向神降服。当以色列人恨不得杀死摩西和亚伦,急不及待想回到埃及做奴隶时,摩西和亚伦却来到神面前俯伏,表明他们不知道该如何回应,只知道他们需要神。他们以身示範,由恐惧巨人转为敬托神。

当摩西和亚伦脸伏于地,约书亚和迦勒则站起来向以色列人说话:「我们所走过、所窥探之地是极美之地。」(民十四7)他们所放大的不是巨人,而是葡萄;神的应许比巨人更大。「耶和华却与我们同在。不要怕他们!」(民十四9)他们想将百姓由恐惧的循环带到去信心的循环之中。他们挑战百姓,不可忘记神的应许,也提醒他们神在过去曾为他们所做的一切。要是他们愿意将恐惧交托神,就能得着自由,因为神的临在和能力,能远远盖过他们对巨人的恐惧。

我们今天在香港也有这同样的机会,我们可以透过拥抱信心的循环,从而打破恐惧的循环,就像在民数记十四章5-9节所记载的一样。


障碍(巨人) 恐惧  承认自己需要神  抓紧应许  邀请他临在  得着自由

障碍仍然存在,而这些障碍仍然会令我们恐惧。然而,我们凭着信,可以走向另一个方向。当恐惧将我们引到一片埋怨声中,我们反而要承认自己的需要,俯伏在神面前。我们认清自己的情绪,并求神在那里与我们相遇。当恐惧引领我们去怪责他人,酝酿着自己的受害者心态,我们反而要宣认神的应许。当恐惧令我们背叛神,回归作奴隶,我们反而要走向神,请他临在于我们的恐惧当中。唯有这样,我们才能得着真自由。

我们作为香港教会,如今会否让恐惧将我们带离这片让我们承受的土地?还是我们可以面对这恐惧,仍然凭信称认这是极美之地,相信神的应许远比我们所面对的巨人更大?

耶稣称为以马内利──神与我们同在──是有原因的:耶稣与我们同在,每时每刻。正因如此,我们可以克服恐惧。打破恐惧的循环,凭信勇敢向前行!

「另一个心志」讲道系列文章。分题为编者所拟。)


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!

 

作者为The Vine主任牧师。


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