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Pastoral Letter 17th January 2021

牧聲 二零二一年一月十七日
17/1/2021
by
Rev. Christopher Chan

Jesus said… “I am the way, and the truth, and the life." John 14:6

The dramatic happenings in the US in the last two weeks with Trump supporters violently breaching the Capital building in Washington, and the subsequent attempt to impeach Trump a second time, are spectacular but saddening to watch. How has this country, which prides itself as the staunch defender of democracy and leader of the free world become so polarized on so many issues that democracy itself is fundamentally threatened?

Apart from the fact that leadership in the US has always been strongly personality-based, and some leaders have abused their influence for political ends, the domination of social media and modern electronic communication in people’s lives has also much to do with this phenomenon. More and more people are choosing to follow only news feeds and chat groups that are like-minded to them. This has had the effect of spurring each other towards extremism of views and blinding themselves to opposing reasoning.  

It is alarming to see that US Christians are just as much wrapped up in the recent controversy as the rest of society. The insert is a photo of one of the rioters holding a Bible as he rampaged with others in the riot. Many Christian leaders have come out to denounce Trump for inciting violence, while other Christian groups are praying for him to regain the election victory which they believe to have been cheated out of their President.  Undoubtedly, this sort of intense differences of view would have caused tension and division within the church, just as the Hong Kong church has experienced in recent years over differences of view on the democracy movement there. How do Christians get into the same plight as the unbelieving society in becoming so confused about what the truth is? I think we have unwittingly been influenced by societal trends of selective hearing from sources that reinforce our pre-occupied ideas. There is growing reluctance to quest for factual truth and in-depth objective analysis of the issues on hand in accordance with biblical principles. Many US Christians have subscribed to exclusive partisan politics, personality leadership, pseudo-Christian political arguments and Christian nationalism. I pray that we, as Australian Christians, will not follow this trend.

The key verse in today’s sermon passage is Jesus’  famous words: “I am the way, the truth and the life”. They have profound significant for the whole of our lives. They also have a lower-level application in the matter of upholding truth in society in our daily lives as well. Only when we are mindful of our duty to discern factual and biblical truth, and uphold it as we function as salt and light of the world, that we are walking in His way and living out our new lives in a way worthy of our calling.

耶穌說:「我就是道路、真理、生命…」約翰福音14:6

過去兩週,在美國發生了前所未見的戲劇性事情:特朗普的支持者用暴力攻佔華盛頓的國會大廈。隨後, 反對黨試圖第二次罷免特朗普。這些立刻成為普世注目,淳淳有味的大新聞,但其實是令人痛心的事。這個自豪為民主政制的捍衛者及自由世界之領袖的國家,曾幾何時在繁多的問題上變得兩極化,以致民主本身受到破裂的威脅?

相信理由之一是美國的政治領導風格一向強烈地聚焦在領袖的個人身份上,而不少的領袖常為了政治目的濫用了他們的影響力。其二是社會媒體和現代電子通信在現今生活中的主導地位所造成的影響。越來越多人只選擇參與及聆聽與自己意見相近的聊天羣組和新聞報導。這促使同一陣線的人互相扇風點火, 產生極端化的觀點, 並對另一方的推理盲目或不信任。

令我們憂慮的是,美國的基督徒, 像社會其他人一樣, 都沉溺在最近的爭議中。這裏的照片是一個示威者手持聖經,與其他暴亂者一同肆虐。暴動後, 有不少的基督徒領袖站出來譴責特朗普煽動暴力。但同時也有一些基督徒團體為特朗普祈禱, 願他們的總統能重獲「被騙走了的選舉勝利」。毫無疑問,這種強烈的意見分歧一定引起教會內部的緊張和分裂,就像香港教會近年來因對當地民主運動的意見分歧所造成的分裂情況一樣。基督徒為何會與不信的社會人士一樣陷入分裂之困境,並對真理有如此大的困惑?我想信信徒們是在不知不覺間受到了社會趨勢的燻陶,選擇性地只聆聽一些加強自己先入為主之想法的討論及訊息。他們越來越不願意花努力去尋求事實的真相,和根據聖經原則對現有問題作深入和客觀的分析。許多美國的基督徒採取盲目地支持一政黨或擁載一政客之風氣,而未憑聖經原則作選擇、導至妄然地接受一些.彷基督化的政治論點和基督教民族主義。我祈禱我們澳洲的基督徒不會跟隨這一趨勢。

今天講道經文的金句是耶穌的名言:「我就是道路、真理、生命」。這話對我們的生命整體具有深遠的意義。在維護社會真理和日常生活中,這話也具有較低層次的應用。願意我們銘記我們是有辨別事實和聖經真理的責任;當我們在世上發揮作鹽和光的功能時,我們要堅持着真理,這才是行在神的道路上,活出與蒙召的恩相稱的新生命。

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