二○一九年五月四日／五月五日 Click here for English version
Our Everyday Choices Reflect Our Beliefs
Rev Arnold Chow
Simply speaking, ethics is about discerning between good and evil in everyday life. Genuine faith enables man to do good according to the teachings of the Lord, and to refuse to side with evil.
Nevertheless, man sometimes fails to understand the principles of his faith. And as opinions come and go, he applies the principles to himself or to others in an unduly narrow or broad manner. There are also times when man thinks that he has stood his ground and kept his faith while in real life, his choices reflect very different values.
Christian theologian Oliver O'Donovan has said: "The foundations of Christian ethics must be evangelical foundations; or, to put it more simply, Christian ethics must arise from the gospel of Jesus Christ. Otherwise it could not be Christian ethics." However, for many Christians, this is not so. These Christians are ethical Christians whose ethics do not rely on Christ. They have segregated their ethics from the Christian faith, according to O'Donovan.
In real life, it is not easy to distinguish between true and false. Nor are matters in the world either right or wrong. As society and the world get increasingly complicated, it is not easy for us to make appropriate everyday decisions on global, social, political, economic, inter-personal issues and in the workplace. Now you may ask: "What do I do?" or "Will this work?"
When Jesus Christ lived on earth, He turned many secular practices and concepts around. On the one hand, He served people on the margins of society, accepted people commonly considered as sinners, and placed emphasis on widely neglected women and children. On the other hand, He sounded the caution to vested interest holders in society, reprimanded the self-righteous, demolished racial and cultural barriers, and rebuked incorrect traditional practices. Nevertheless, the gospel of Jesus Christ is not aimed at bringing about a social revolution. More specifically, the gospel is much more than a revolution. It is something that turns around lives, and goes beyond our popular but incorrect values.
Jesus Christ did not just put forth higher standards nor did He just ask us to do certain things and not others. What He did was to let people receive the power of the gospel to turn their lives around so that when they are faced with everyday choices, they have the freedom to live out their faith. They will not serve God on the one hand and put personal profits before everything on the other. Nor will they lift up the banner of Biblical truths but at the same time wholeheartedly submit to the mainstream ideology. Moreover, they will not call Jesus Lord while obediently following those in power on earth.
Ethics is the realization of faith. And indeed, everyday choices reflect the beliefs we cherish deep in our hearts and reveal our real attitude towards our Lord.
In these times in which true and false are confused, the truth rejected and disputes abound, may we return to the foundation of the gospel and humbly accept God's grace and mercy. As we practice our faith, let us fine-tune our practice and learn from our mistakes. We must also admit our lack of strength, and rely on the renewal power of the Holy Spirit in boldly making choices in line with our faith.