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2020年7月3日 至 7月5日
考驗中迸發光芒
周曉暉牧師

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疫情之初,找來了一齣疫病災難片看。我驚訝地發現,劇情的發展,與現實中正經歷的有許多相似的地方,這要歸功於編劇洞悉世情的功力。不少災難片往往能讓觀眾看到人與人之間的關係真貌,禍患有如明鏡,能叫人的真我變得無所遁形。在無可抵擋的困厄表象下,人性的陰暗面和社會運作的齷齪,其實比無情的災難本身更可怕。

然而,災難另一面所呈現的美善、無私、滿有憐憫的事,卻是暖透人心的。有一點值得留意,能夠在考驗中迸發光芒的人,往往不是在災禍臨到之日才去思考如何抉擇的,他們卻是因為平素常以良善待人,所以在禍困降臨的一剎那,就自然而然地表現出一份良善。

雅各書成書於一個不容易的年代,當時的信徒還未受到大規模的逼迫,但帝國的生活卻十分艱苦,信徒身處農業為主的社會,絕大部分都過著貧困的生活,他們既無依無靠,也無權無勢,間中也有被屈枉、被剝削壓榨的遭遇。(釋經學者提醒今天的讀者,不要直接把工業革命之後現代社會分階層的狀況,讀入當時的農業社會,否則會因時空錯置而誤讀。)

雅各提醒信徒,無論如何,都要在群體生活中操練聖言的教導(即是我們常提到的明道行道),特別要堅守耶穌基督「愛人如己」的命令。信徒對人的態度,或說話,或行事,皆應與世俗文化有別。

不要以為我們信主的就比他人優秀。災難片中常有一種角色,這些人會出奇不意地展現扭曲的人性,致使劇情推展得越見緊張。起初明明的好人,當危難一到,就一反常態,害人以利己。這些角色的反應,揭示了他們真正擁抱的價值觀、以及藏於心底的信念。

雅各反覆地帶人回到「全然愛主」和「全然愛人」的要旨上,那是因為信徒群體生活中仍有偏待人、嫉恨別人、高傲自恃、口舌失控、有欠真誠等現象。當新的考驗臨到,我們對上主會否仍有堅實、毫無保留的信靠?當環境逼人,我們能否仍然信靠到底,忠心不二?在困厄中,我們能否堅持愛人如己,不會彼此怨懟?我們要盡早檢視自己真正的價值觀和信念,並在群體生活中操練,明道行道。

這一季,我們會透過研讀雅各書,領受從天上來的智慧,一同留心不被世俗同化,反倒在考驗中更加懷抱主所吩咐的雙重之愛:全然愛主又愛人,在考驗中迸發義人的光芒。




Pastor's Sharing
Imparting the Light of the Righteous in Trials
Rev Arnold Chow

In the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, I saw a movie about a pandemic. I was amazed to find much resemblance between the storyline and what was happening in real life. The screenwriter was perceptive about life. In fact, many disaster movies have been able to reveal the real face of human relationships. Trials are like mirrors in front of which the real self has nowhere to hide. Under the grip of hardship, the dark side of human nature and how our society functions is exposed. This can be worse than the disaster itself.

Nevertheless, the brighter side unveiled by the disaster – goodness, selflessness, compassion – is heartwarming. It is noteworthy that those who can shine in the trials often do not choose what to do only when disasters come but they are those who do good habitually. When disasters strike, they act naturally in accordance with their goodness.

The Book of James was written in an uneasy era. There were no massive persecutions of Christians yet, but life in the empire was by no means easy. In a largely agricultural setting, most believers led poor lives. Helpless and powerless, they were sometimes wrongly accused and at other times exploited and bullied. (Bible scholars have reminded readers today not to read the social stratification of our postmodern society after the Industrial Revolution into the agricultural society then or else the different settings may lead to misinterpretation.)

James' reminder to us is that whatever happens, we must practice the teachings of the word in community life (that is, to understand and live out God's word as we often mention). Specifically, we must strictly follow Jesus Christ's command to love our neighbors as ourselves. Our attitude, words and deeds should be different from those in the culture of the world.

Believers should not consider themselves superior to others. There is often a character in disaster movies that will unexpectedly turn evil, thus increasing the tension as the story develops. A good guy all along would hurt others to save himself when trial comes. His response reveals the values he truly embraces and the beliefs at the bottom of his heart.

Time and again, James brings people back to the main theme of loving God and loving man wholeheartedly. That is because there was still impartiality, envy, pride, untamed tongue and lack of sincerity in the church community at that time. If a new test comes, will we still be firm in our faith and fully trust in God? When the going gets tough, will we still depend on and remain faithful to God to the end? Can we insist on loving our neighbors as ourselves instead of complaining against one another? We must take time to review our values and beliefs, and practice the word of God in the community.

In this quarter, we will learn divine wisdom through studying the Book of James. Let us not be assimilated by the world. In times of trials, let us all the more embrace the Lord's command to love God and man with all our heart. Let us impart the light of the righteous in the tests.












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