2019年10月27日 星期日

Be Humble (Luke 18:9-14)

What makes one hard to be humble? Psychologists tell us that people with less self-confident and less self-worth are hard to be humble, because they feel the need to step over others in order to get affirmation and recognition. If we take the psychological view, does it mean what Jesus said in the parable that “for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted” is a matter about self-confidence and self-worth? I would not deny it, but this is not the theological understanding of being humble.

The parable has three figure, namely, the Pharisee, the tax collector and the narrator. As a narrator, Jesus intends to challenge the stereotyping on Pharisees and tax collectors. That is to say, Pharisees are not as righteousness as what most people at his time think, and tax-collectors are not as unrighteousness as what most people at his time think. On the contrary, Jesus praises the tax-collector, not the Pharisee. This is a subversive comment at his time, because it directly angers the Pharisees. Different from the judgment by most people, Jesus’s criterion of judgment is not whether one has fulfilled the religious laws and moral laws, but whether one’s awareness of oneself live under God’s graciousness.

Why does the Pharisee give a tenth of his all income? Is it an act of thanksgiving? Or is it a show off of that he fulfills the law? No matter what the reason is, his giving is not appreciated as a humble act, because he says, I thank you that I am not like other people.” He is not able to see that God’s graciousness would also come upon people who do not have the same moral and religious life as his. They are thieves, rogues, adulterers and tax collectors. The Pharisee focuses on his worthiness, not God’s graciousness. Being humble, theologically, is about a matter of seeing that God’s graciousness also comes upon people whom we dislike or we consider them not worthy. They may be LGBT, protestors, police and people from the pro-government camp. The greater one’s sense of humility, the easier it is to appreciate others, to praise them, and to encourage them. Being humble is to recognize that we are the recipients of God’s graciousness, but we are not the keepers of God’s graciousness, judging who are worthy to have God’s graciousness and who are not. Put straightly, being humble is not to be a hindrance for others to experience God’s graciousness.

Second, people who acknowledge God’s graciousness would be willing to give and share, because they consider what they have had are something that is shared by God. Without God’s graciousness and sharing, I have got nothing. Even though the Pharisee is judgmental, I am still inclined to say that the Pharisee’s act of giving a tenth of all his income is an act of thanksgiving. People who are humble tend to be more generous with both their time and their money. On the contrary, people hardly give and share if they have no humility. Perhaps, some argue that only people with abundance have a better capacity to give or share. So, giving or sharing is more related to one’s abundance, not one’s humility. But I want to tell you that the rich seldom give and share a lot, because they are easily fallen into a cycle of improving their living standard in which the word, enough, does not exist. On the contrary, the poor is more willingly to give and share, because they know that without giving and sharing, they can’t survive. Being humble, theologically, is to give and share with others humbly and happily.

The third theological meaning of being humble is to break through or lay down one’s ego to receive God’s graciousness in terms of forgiveness. In order to receive God’s forgiveness, one has to admit his/her wrongdoing and repent. The parable describes that the tax collector, “standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’” His body position and gesture show that he does not feel worthy to be forgiven. Perhaps, he has committed great sins. Despite this, Jesus concludes that “all who humble themselves will be exalted.” The parable does not say anything more on the life of the tax-collector after confession, but experiences tell us that people who seek for forgiveness have better social relationships, avoid deception in their social interactions, and tend to be forgiving, grateful, and cooperativeNevertheless, we are in a very different scenario. That is to say, there are people without a sense of repentance and they do not seek for forgiveness. They are Carrie Lam, the Chief Executive of HK government, and the police. The police never never apologize. They only see themselves as victims. Being humble, theologically, is nothing other than repentance and seeking for forgiveness.

To be humble is not to think less of oneself, but to think of oneself less. Theologically, being humble is that we are the channel, not the hindrance, of God’s graciousness, we give and share with others humbly and happily, and we break through our ego in order that we can repent and seek for forgiveness. The core message of being humble is not about a matter of virtue, but is about Sola Gratia (only grace), one of the cornerstones of the Reformation. It is God’s graciousness bringing us to be humble. Also it is our humility opening our eyes, arms and heart to God’s graciousness.

2019年7月16日 星期二






一位同道論,如果教友指責警察使用武力但同時亦指責示威者使用武力的人才有資格指責暴力。」他的評論是恰當,也很聖經(即不要只看見別人眼中的刺,卻看不見自己的梁木),但他這種漠武力的不對稱性和執法者以圍捕取代驅散的做法可能是最不平等和最不公道式高談公平和公道曾當警的父提醒我英國警察選擇不配鎗執勤,因為他相信擁有更大武力裝備的警察要先克制自己武力,示威者或違法者就不會選擇用更武力。當選擇克制武力時,警察就要思考如何向違者溝通,減少衝突的可能。2012918日,英國有兩位女警被鎗殺了。雖然帶著傷痛和對自身安全的憂慮,但英國察最後決定不配鎗執勤。父親又問,「為何報警後,隨之而來的警車總是開著響聲?警察不害怕犯罪者因此而逃走嗎?」年少的我不知如何回答。父親自問自答,「警察最重要責任是保護人免受傷害。所以,若犯罪人因聽到警車響聲而急速離開,不進一步傷害求救者時,保護人免受傷害已達到了。其餘是次要。再者,響聲是給求救者聽的。藉此,安慰求救者,因為幫助將到。」我希望我在警察身上看見這份人性。動了慈心和悲心的不可停留受傷者傷口,更要設法阻止傷害發生或再發生們可以從三方慮,分別為建立和平peace-building)、締和平 peace-making和維持和平peace-keeping)。


締造和平指在衝那一刻努力遏止發生暴力或減少由避免不了的暴力帶來對人的即時害。在此我特別要提三件事第一記者扮重要角色。被稱為第四權監察政權力。他們的不偏不倚報導有助締結和平。例如,警察會更小心使用武力。第二有教牧和信徒行在衝的前線分隔示威者與警察,減少暴力發生的機會。後來,Sing Hallelujah to the Lord成為抗爭或安穩情緒的基督徒被示者利用了。1992年我在德國萊比錫(Leipzig做研究期間,問聖尼古拉教會(St Nikolai 富勒Christian Führer[1]「是覺得教會被示者利用他們進行的政治運動?」他說「我從不認為我教會被人利用教會被上主利用了為此感恩。上主利用我們教會成就公義與和平,願我們教會再被上主利用第三很多個人在衝突努力維持和平。有些人被打了,卻不還手。有些人勸阻示威者,「夠了!」要用自己締造和平。我們心痛了。我誠心呼籲參與遊行的朋友(包括當值的警察)用儘各種智慧締造和平。




2019年6月13日 星期四

維護生命:寫在反逃犯條例修訂二讀前 (徒三12-16)






因生命的上主給了我們生命,我們沒有不站出來的選擇,也沒有不委身於維護生命和尊重生命的選擇。我們要向侮辱生命的政權、法律、警權和人心宣告他們的終局是死亡,因為他們選擇與生命的上主隔離了。在這個由強權,無恥和無人性主導的年代,我們要堅信生命的上主,並倚靠上主,展示出維護生命和尊重生命的情操,見証人的尊嚴從不會被剝奪 ,也絕不可欺負。

2019年6月10日 星期一