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Pastoral Letter 2nd May 2021

2/5/2021
2/5/2021
by
Rev. Christopher Chan

Trust and Obey

Today, we are starting a new preaching series on the book of Esther.

A delightful and succinct video summary of the book can be found at https://youtu.be/JydNSlufRIs

The book is about our faithful God never forsaking His people, and protected them through the trust and obedience of a few of the remnants, in this case, Mordecai and Esther. Their trust and obedience were exercised on each separate situation, not knowing the whole picture or how they fitted into the entire plan of God, but God used these isolated actions of faithfulness to accomplish His plan of redemption for His people.

Last week, there has been much passionate discussion within the Hong Kong church circle about a high-profile church leader. He suddenly resigned as the chairperson of the Baptist Convention of Hong Kong, and left Hong Kong together with his wife and pet dog to take up permanent residence in the UK. He was quoted as saying that he did so on the advice of concerned friends regarding the degrading political situation in Hong Kong, wherein dissidents have been rounded up in recent months. He said that leaving so hastily made him feel like a "deserter", and that he hoped God would have mercy on him according to his weakness. He added that it was not easy for a minister to let go being the church’s shepherd. He explained further that he had to take their beloved dog with them. It was difficult to find a berth for the pet on a plane, so he had to leave in a hurry once that became available. It begs the question: what about God’s beloved flock that is left behind, badly divided since the “Umbrella Movement”, and now facing an uncertain future?

Of course, this is only one side of the story reported in the news, and he might have justification for his action. However, the fact remains that it is morale-destroying for the church when their leaders apparently desert the “sinking ship”. In contrast, this may help us to appreciate more the courage and trust of Mordecai and Esther in obeying the Lord under their prevailing circumstances.

Throughout church history, there have been many Christian leaders martyred or otherwise endured dreadful persecution in staying faithful to God’s truth and His flock. The time is coming when we may find this to be a realistic challenge for us as Christians in Australia as well. Religious freedom is being progressively strangled in the name of “equality” and “inclusiveness”. While we can pray that this will not become reality too soon, we also need to pray for courage and trust to stay faithful as the Lord’s witnesses.

May the book of Esther inspire us to be faithful to the Lord in daily life, and particularly in an environment of hostility. Our simple act of obedience on each occasion may be used by the Lord for much greater purposes of His.

信靠順服

今天,我們將開始一個新的講道系列:以斯帖記。

這本書的一個既精簡又精彩的視頻摘要(英語)可在以下的鏈接找到:https://youtu.be/JydNSlufRIs

這本書是關於信實的上帝從不丟棄祂的子民,並通過一些忠於祂的餘民之信靠和順服成全祂對子民的保護。在當時的情況下,末底改和以斯帖就是祂所使用的僕人。他們的信靠和順服是實踐在每個個別的情況中,並不知道整個大局或上帝的整全計劃,但上帝用這些看起來毫無相關,卻充滿信實的行動來完成祂對子民的救贖。

上周,香港教會界對一位高調的教會領袖進行了熱烈的辯論。他突然辭去香港浸信會聯會主席一職,與妻子及寵愛的狗一同離開香港前往英國定居。報導引述他說,他這樣做是由於關心他們的朋友之勸告,就香港政局惡化,近幾個月來違抗政府立場者被逮捕所作的建議。他說,如此匆忙地離開使他覺得自己像個「逃兵」,他希望上帝會按他的軟弱憐悯他。他補充說,一個牧者要放棄作教會牧人的職份並不容易。他進一步解釋說,他必須帶同他們的愛犬離港。要找到寵物的機位很不容易,所以一旦有位,他就不得不匆忙離開。這立刻引出了一個迫切的問題:自「雨傘運動」以來,上帝所寵愛的「羊群」被置於不顧,並且已經嚴重分裂,現在更面臨著前路不明的景況,他們又將會如何?

當然,這是新聞報導的單方面角度,他可能有足夠理由採取他的行動。然而,不爭的事實是,當教會的領袖們看似樹倒猢猻散時,教會的士氣必受到重大打擊。相比之下,這可能有助於我們更加體會末底改和以斯帖在當時情況下服從主的勇氣和信靠。

在整個教會歷史中,有許多基督教領袖在忠於上帝的真理和祂的羊群中殉難或遭受可怕的迫害。眼看社會的趨勢,對我們在澳大利亞的信徒來說,要面對主流社群及政治的敵視是一個越來越現實的挑戰。宗教自由已經逐漸地在「平等」和「包容」的名義下被扼殺。雖然我們可以祈求這些不會很快成為現實,但我們也需要祈求勇氣和對主的信靠,好能作忠心於主的見證。

願以斯帖記激勵我們在日常生活中,更在敵對的環境中忠於主。我們在小事上信靠順服的行為可能被主使用於祂更大的計劃中。

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