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时代讲场最新文章

只有当神亲自和我们同去(Only If God Is With Us)

「我们要以神的方式来践行神对香港的旨意。」

二〇一九年初,我的父亲诊断患上肝癌后不久便离世。当时我有点挣扎,一方面要面对失去父亲的伤痛,另一方面却要相信神是美善和慈爱的。我很努力建立这间教会,为了当个好牧者,亦牺牲了不少时间,什至一些亲密的关系。正如浪子比喻里的大儿子那样(路十五章),我有点气愤。苦干了那么多年,父亲为何不给我祝福?为什么神没有站在我这边?

像那些将要进入应许之地的以色列人那样,我发现自己也被巨人击倒──我的巨人就是疾病和突如其来的死亡。我本来可以为自己的小信而悔改,可以伸手去抓住神应许的葡萄。然而,我没有面对自己的恐惧。我只是愈发努力地成为一个好的牧者,希望没有人留意到我内心的悸动。我的心碎了,但我却因此更努力工作。

在约但河的那边,以色列人很愤怒,幻想亦破灭了。他们不愿意面对地上的巨人,也不愿意面对自己内心恐惧的巨人。他们差点就想反抗,想杀死摩西,然后回到埃及做奴隷。

神也差点想击杀这群以色列人,然后重新建立一个群体,里面全是像摩西、迦勒和约书亚那样的人(民十四12)。摩西却求神饶恕以色列民的叛逆。「埃及人会怎么说呢?祢曾施展大能,领百姓从他们中间出来。祢领他们走过旷野,使他们战胜敌人。但祢却不带他们进应许之地!」(参民十四13-19)

神照摩西的话赦免了以色列人,但那十个报恶信的探子都因遭瘟疫,死在耶和华面前。以色列人听见这事,又再次恐惧起来。他们自知犯罪,为了想挽回,便决定擅自闯进应许之地。「我们有罪了;情愿上耶和华所应许的地方去。」(民十四40)他们以为能用这「正确」的行动来修补他们错误的心志。他们以为能用自己的力量来达到那应该用谦卑来做到的事情。他们幼稚地以为,只要所行的符合神的旨意,那么他们与神的关系便得以复和。

那是我在几年前父亲离世后的生活写照。我加倍努力成为一个好牧者,虽然我对神失去盼望,但我比以往更勤力工作。我讲更好的道,成为更好的牧者,要向神证明我仍然可以做那些他指派我做的事。既然神没有打倒癌症的巨人,我惟有自己在生活上努力一点。虽然我无法处理内心恐惧的巨人,但起码能面对外面的巨人。我希望自己的基督徒行为能带来拯救,因为我已经无法相信神是我的救主。

走在神前面注定让自己失败

摩西知道百姓没有面对他们的恐惧和不顺服,如今还想擅自闯进应许之地,不听神和摩西的吩咐。「你们为何违背耶和华的命令呢?这事不能顺利了。不要上去;因为耶和华不在你们中间,恐怕你们被仇敌杀败了。」(民十四41-42)神还没有让百姓准备好去攻打他们在迦南地的敌人。若以色列人与神有好的关系,理应知道这事。

他们自知得罪了神,出于内疚,希望能透过践行神的旨意,而挽回神的喜悦。他们以为,只要行了神的旨意,神就会很高兴,让他们成功。他们想透过自己的行动来换取神的喜爱。然而,他们却输得一败涂地(民十四44-45)。他们还没有从自我中心的背叛中彻底悔改,他们仍想做自己想做的事,不听从神,也不听从摩西。

我们与神的关系,并不是靠我们的行动来定义的;我们与神的关系是我们行动的方向和力量的来源。我们不要让我们为神所做的事,破坏我们与神的关系;否则,我们就会像以色列人一样,走在神的前面,注定令自己和群体失败。

我们不可能以自己的方法来行神的旨意,然后还期望得到他的祝福。行神的旨意,就要用神的方法。我们若与神有好的关系,我们不单会明白他的旨意,亦会明白他想要成就这件事的方法。这样,我们就能回应神,以他的方法他的旨意,与他同工。否则,我们便会被打败。确实,若我们在信心上拒绝他,以肉身做的一切都是徒劳,无论如何都只会失败。

我恳请大家小心留意,这可能是香港教会在这个关键时刻的重大危机。香港是神的应许之地,是流奶与蜜之地,即使面对着极大的巨人,这地仍然极其美好。我们必须要有另一个心志,在这个时候站出来,也要坚持,带着勇气和忠信传扬福音。但要这样做,我们必须先将自己与神的关系置于首位。我们要以神的方式来践行神对香港的旨意。而我们要知道他的旨意,就必须与他有更紧密的关系。我们的权柄来自与基督那持续进深的关系。用摩西在起程前往应许之地的说话,就是「只有当祢亲自和我们同去!」(参出卅三15)

拥有像迦勒的心志

两年前我心中挣扎,经历着对神的苦涩。虽然我与神距离很远,但我仍然扮演着一个基督徒。在一次几个月的安息期中,我与神搏斗。我参与了不同教会的聚会,但没有多少与神连结的渴望。然而,神透过大大小小的方式与我相遇。或许影响我最深的,是他透过美国一位老牧场主的分享触摸我,这位老牧场主告诉我,他在人生最痛苦的经历──他妻子的自杀里,如何寻得到神的恩典。

我也记起离开香港前一位导师仁慈的话。「你知道圣经以什么话结束吗?」他问。知道的,我说:「主耶稣啊,我愿你来!」(启廿二20)圣经以一句邀请作总结:「主耶稣啊,我愿你来!」邀请我们与神建立一段改变生命的关系,他是那位拥抱我们的罪与痛苦、我们的暴力与不公义的神。「主耶稣啊,我愿你来!」

在我的挣扎中,那个简单的邀请为我带来了医治和更新,让我在这刻的香港能拥有像迦勒那样的心志。我面对了自己的恐惧和罪。我最后说:「主耶稣啊,我愿你来!」然后他来了,带着丰足的恩典与能力,原谅我的叛逆,将我由内至外更新。我不再恐惧,且满有盼望,因为耶稣与我同在,与我们同在。

以色列人冲进战场之前并没有听从神的吩咐,因此就在神所赐给他们那应许之地上被打败了。神没有与他们同在,因为他们没有与神同工。愿我们都不要在神所赐我们的地上犯下同一个错误。让我们重新点燃与神的关系,求他临在于我们当中、我们的教会当中、我们的城巿当中。

主耶稣啊,我愿你来!愿我们的心像摩西那样呼喊:「只有当祢亲自和我们同去!」

「另一个心志」讲道系列文章。分题为编者所拟。)


英文原文:

Only If God Is With Us


“We must embrace God’s will for Hong Kong through God’s way.”

In early 2019 my father passed away after a short and sudden battle with liver cancer. I struggled to reconcile my pain in losing my father with my faith in a good and caring God. I had worked hard to build his church. I had sacrificed time and even some close relationships to be a pastor. Like the older brother in the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15), I was filled with resentment. I had slaved away all these years. Where now was the father’s blessing? Why wasn’t God on my side?

Like the Israelites ready to enter the Promised Land, I found myself defeated by giants—in my case the giants of disease and premature death. I could have repented for my lack of faith. I could have reached for the grapes of God’s promise. I didn’t face my fears. I just worked harder to be a good pastor, and hoped no one would notice that I was just going through the motions. My heart was broken, but I would just work that much harder.

On the far side of Jordan, the Israelites are angry and disillusioned. They are unwilling to face the giants in the land and the giant of fear inside themselves. On the verge of mutiny, they are ready to kill Moses and go back to slavery in Egypt.

God is ready to destroy these people and build a new nation with people like Moses, Caleb and Joshua (Numbers 14:12). Moses begs God to forgive the people for their rebellion. “What will the Egyptians say? With signs and wonders you delivered your people from slavery. You took them through the wilderness, defeating their enemies along the way. But you were unable to bring them to the Promised Land!”

God listened to Moses and forgave Israel, but the 10 spies who returned with a bad report are struck down with a plague and die. When Israel hears of this a new fear sweeps over them. They understand they have sinned, and in the hopes of winning God back to their side they decide to take matters into their own hands and enter the Promised Land. “We sinned, but now we’re ready” (v 40). They think that their right actions will repair their wrong hearts. They think they can achieve with their strength what could only be achieved through their humility. They naively assume that as long as they act in the will of God then their relationship with God will be repaired.

That was me a couple of years ago after my father died. I redoubled my efforts as a pastor. Even though I was disillusioned with God, I would work even harder. I would preach better sermons. I would be a better pastor. I would prove to God that I could still do the things he had anointed me to do. Since God didn’t defeat the giant of cancer, I would just have to power ahead on my own. Even though I couldn’t tackle the giant of fear inside me, I would face the giants outside. My Christian activity would have to bring my deliverance since I couldn’t trust God to be my saviour.

Moses knows the people have not faced their fear and disobedience. And now they want to enter the land on their own, without listening to God or to Moses. “Why are you disobeying the LORD’S command? This will not succeed! Do not go up, because the LORD is not with you. You will be defeated by your enemies.” (vs 41-42). God was not ready for the people to attack their enemies in Canaan. And the Israelites would have known this if they had been in right relationship with God.

They know they have upset God, and in their guilt they try to win back God’s favour by acting on what they know is God’s will. They think that if they just do God’s will, God will be happy with them and grant them success. They are trying to buy God’s favour through their actions. But instead they encountered great defeat (vs 44-45). They had not fully repented from their self-centred rebellion. They still wanted to do their own thing, independent of God and Moses.

It is not our activity that creates our relationship with God. It is our relationship with God that directs and empowers our activity. We must not allow our activity for God to undermine our relationship with God. If it does, like Israel, we will run ahead of God and position ourselves and our community for defeat.

We cannot do God’s will our way and hope to have God’s blessing. It is God’s will in God’s way. It is in relationship with God that we come to understand not just his will but also the way in which he is working to accomplish this will amongst us. And when we see that, we respond by partnering with God in his will, his way. If we don’t, we will be defeated. Indeed, when we make a futile attempt in the flesh to accomplish what we have already rejected by faith, it will always end in defeat.

May I humbly suggest that this is the great danger for the church in Hong Kong in this important time. Hong Kong is God’s promised land, flowing with milk and honey. Even in the midst of some massive giants, the land is still exceedingly good. We must have a different spirit to stand up and stand out in this time, offering the gospel with courage and faithfulness. But this will only happen if we make our relationship with God more central than ever before. We must embrace God’s will for Hong Kong through God’s way. And we will only come to know this way if we are tied closer and closer in intimacy with him. Our authority comes from an always deepening relationship with Christ. In the words Moses said to God near the beginning of the journey to the Promised Land, “Only if you are with us!” (Exodus 33:15)

Two years ago I was struggling with bitterness toward God. I was acting like a Christian even though I was distant from God. During the months of a sabbatical I wrestled with God. I attended different churches but had little desire to connect with God. But then God began meeting me in smaller and larger ways. Perhaps most dramatically he touched me through an old rancher in the United States who told me how he had found God’s grace in the midst of the most devastating experience of his life—his wife’s suicide.

And I remembered the gracious words of a mentor as I was leaving Hong Kong. “Do you know how the Bible ends?” he asked. Yes, I replied, “Maranatha, come Lord Jesus!” The Bible concludes with an invitation: ‘Come, Lord Jesus’. An invitation to a life changing relationship with the one who embraced our sin and suffering, our violence and injustice. “Maranatha, come Lord Jesus!”

Out of my struggle and that simple invitation came a healing and transformation that has given me a Caleb spirit for Hong Kong in this hour. I faced my fear and my sin. I finally said, “Come Lord Jesus!” And he came with incredible grace and power to forgive my rebellion and transform me from the inside out. I am no longer afraid. I am full of hope. Because Jesus is with me, with us.

The Israelites failed to listen to God before marching into battle, and they were defeated in the very land God was gifting to them. God was not with them, because they were not with God. May we not make the same mistake in the land God is gifting to us. Let us rekindle our relationship with God, embracing his presence in ourselves, in our churches and in our city.

Come Lord Jesus! May our heart’s cry be like Moses, “Only if God is with us!”

 

作者为The Vine主任牧师。


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