鄺偉志傳道的話

年報 20 年 9 月 – 在多變世情中作「基督徒/門徒」的挑戰

鄺偉志傳道

相信若選2020年最多人談論的詞語,必定是「新型肺炎」莫屬。可能大家也有留意到,在疫症初期,如何為這惡劣病毒命名,也引來一番爭議。不論是「武漢肺炎」、「新冠肺炎」或「新型肺炎」,使用該些名字的背後,都為突顯其特別的意義。這讓我想到,我們作為「基督徒」,也有幾個不同的名稱來表達我們的身份,背後也各有其特定的意義。在基督信仰上,這其實是一個頗為基礎的真理,但在全球疫情帶來的時代大轉變下,我們作為「基督徒」,或是我們教會最近所強調的「門徒」,也是時候讓我們再三反思一下當中的重要含義。

首先,「基督徒」這名字,其實是一些未信者當時給信徒的別名(使徒行傳11:26)。很多人沒有留意,那時未信者稱呼信主的人為「基督徒」,這並非一個尊重的稱呼,因為在他們眼中,「基督」根本就是一個騙子、魔術師或自以為是的猶太宗教狂熱分子,故此這名稱是表示一個信仰基督的人,其實正是像他們眼中那位「基督」的一群愚昧可憐人。當然到了今天,我們信徒一般都以自己作為「基督徒」為榮。但現代的未信者,也可能對「基督徒」這名稱,同樣抱有不尊重的意味,例如覺得「基督徒」是過時、教條化甚至偽善的意思,原因正可能是他們所認識的基督徒,在與其交往的經驗裡,曾經給他們有這些印象。在這方面,我們值得反省一下,我們自稱為「基督徒」,我們究竟給未信者是怎樣的一個印象?

今次我想討論的另一個名稱,是「門徒」。「門徒」或「門生」,是一個跟隨師傅的學生。師傅教他甚麼,他就學甚麼;門徒貼身跟隨,師傅做甚麼,他也做甚麼;因此,門徒被師傅長期薰陶,有的言行竟然活像他的師傅。事實上,上面提及「基督徒」這名稱,其實已包含「基督門徒」的意思,因為一群跟隨基督的人,言行都像「基督」。此外,相信不少弟兄姊妹都知道,「門徒」也有「傳承」的意思,師傅將一生所有向門徒傾囊相授,就是讓其門徒可以承傳衣缽。故此,我們若作為真門徒,必須傳承信仰給下一代,也不能不建立你自己的門徒。可是對很多基督徒來說,單就這一點,其生命已與作為「真門徒」並不相稱,必須深切反省悔改!

可是,耶穌所論如何作「門徒」,更包含更深一層的意義:「凡不背著自己十字架跟從我的,也不能作我的門徒。」(路加福音14:27)所謂背起自己的十架,就是一種個人的委身,這種委身是帶著犧牲與受苦的精神。在安逸的環境學習作門徒,學背十架是相當不容易的,因為挑戰不足,導致動力不夠。去年香港教會界有一個新進網台取名為「辛福台」,是特別要強調基督的福音並不是所謂「幸福音」,即是信了耶穌就會一帆風順,必然得著在物質上的豐裕和「幸福」的那種「偽福音」,因為聖經所強調基督門徒所要相信及傳揚的,反而是一種「辛福」—一種在苦難中的祝福的信仰。「辛福」這個名稱,正是作為「門徒」生命的最佳表述之一。

我們不要忘記,昔日教會初期在羅馬帝國發展的過程,是充滿血與淚。當時基督教被認為是一種新興的迷信,身邊的異教徒及政權,以敵意的謡言、公開的恐嚇和搞擾,有一段時間,因為基督徒在當時是非常特別的一群,作為一個基督徒,竟然就是犯法的理由![1] 到最高峯的大肆逼迫,包括捉拿監禁、酷刑殘害,慘不忍睹……可是因著信徒的堅毅,吊詭地,那時是基督教歷史上,信徒增長最快的年代。到了今天,歷史重演,世上愈來愈多地方,在信仰上的自由愈來愈被限制,相信基督,並認真跟隨基督的價值觀者,就面對需要付上代價的抉擇。在這大時代,我們面對歪理橫行,公理顛倒,邪惡暴力,世俗引誘等等各類壓逼,我們走上作主門徒的路,就將要面對巨大的壓力和挑戰,逼迫也會以不同面貌臨到我們。故此,在今天作主門徒,必須具備敏於聖靈與良心的清醒,更須擁有「雖千萬人吾往矣」的決心與勇氣。另一方面,從我們今年粵語事工所查考的《傳道書》的亮光看,在現世複雜的世事與時務中,我們卻又要在多變的世情中,學懂如何在特定時機中靈活掌握從神而來的智慧,才能恰如其分地見證真神。誠然,跟隨主、作主門徒,勇氣與智慧,決一不可。

「作主門徒」,從來都不單單是一句空洞的口號。各位準備好自己沒有?互勉之。

[1] Larry W. Hurtado, The Destroyer of gods: Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2016), p22.

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The challenge of being a “Christian/ Disciple” in this changeable world

Pastor Richie Kwong

COVID-19 must be the hottest term and is on everyone’s lips in 2020. We may notice that there have been disputes over the naming of this virus, either in Chinese or English. Is it Wuhan virus? Or New Coronavirus? Every name has its unique implication. That leads me to re-think the naming of our identity: “Christian”, “Disciple” or “Saint” and so on. All those names are reflecting different aspects of Christian truths and values, which are actually Christian basics. But in this pandemic age of chaos, what is the real meaning of being a “Christian” or “Disciple”?

Firstly, being a “Christian”. The name of “Christian” actually was a name with a negative connotation, given by the non-Christians in the early church times (Acts 11:26). The “Christian” was viewed as a bizarre cult by the Romans at that time. They condemned Christ Jesus as a deceiver, a sorcerer and a fanatic Jew. Today, do we feel honored to be a “Christian”? The non-believers nowadays may see “Christian” as an obsolete, dogmatic and hypocritical religious fool. Some of them view us in this way because they have got bad impressions from their Christian friends or bad examples from public Christian figures. Being a “Christian”, are you aware of what impressions you have given your relatives, friends and colleagues?

Another name is “Disciple”. A disciple is one who follows his/her teacher or master. He/she learns and does everything that the master has taught. A disciple may imitate his/her master in many ways like a duplicate version of his/her master. The word “disciple” also has the meaning of imitation and succession. If you think you are a disciple of Christ but having no one to be your follower or successor, I can tell you that you may not be a “real disciple of Christ” and you should repent! 

Nevertheless, Jesus explained the deeper meaning of being a “disciple”. In Luke 14:27, “Whoever does not take up his cross and come after me may not be my disciple.” “Take up his cross” means a genuine devotion to God with sacrificial spirit and willing to endure hardship. Without any challenges, one’s motivation will become relatively weak, and it is hard to learn to be a faithful “disciple” in a comfort zone. 

Let’s not forget the path of blood and tears that the early church has gone through. In the first few centuries, the Roman authority and the pagans attacked Christians with hostile rumors, public threats and harassments. There was a time that “being a Christian” itself is a criminal offence! [1]  At the climax of persecution, Christians were jailed and tortured, but paradoxically it was the fastest growing time of the church because of the Christians’ perseverance and testimonies amidst persecution. History seems to be repeating now; many churches are under restrictions or even persecutions all over the world especially in totalitarian countries. In this epoch, we can see violence and evil everywhere, sometimes we cannot tell right from wrong, even justice is twisted. We should prepare to face the pressure and pay the price when we are trying to stand firm on the right side or speak the truth from our consciousness. As a disciple living in this complex world, what we need is determination, courage as well as wisdom from God. ‘To be the Lord’s Disciple’, it should never be just a slogan. Are you ready to be a real “Christian” and “Disciple” now?

[1] Larry W. Hurtado, The Destroyer of gods: Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2016), p22.

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