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10/20/2019 A Timely Word (合時的話)

by Rev. Benjamin Chung (鍾立恆牧師)

A pastor (we’ll say his name is Mark) shared with me about his Christian journey as a young man and how there were many roadblocks along the way. First, Mark’s parents, and especially his father, did not want him to be involved in any sort of religion as he saw it as a weakness. Mark’s father was an engineer and found many inconsistencies in what he saw and interpreted from the Christian faith. (Many inconsistencies which are founded.) Even with an anti-Christian hedge of protection placed around Mark by his father, Mark chose to read the Bible in his first year in college. Convicted by the Gospel testimony of Jesus, he made the decision to follow Christ!


However, this did not bode well with his parents. On the plus side, Mark’s mother also became inquisitive of the Christian faith and she spoke with a local pastor. Then the pastor came to make a house call to Mark and his parents. The pastor then shared three reason for why he was there. First, the pastor said it was because Mark’s mother asked the pastor to come. Second, because such a testimony usually meant that Mark was going to be a pastor. (He was right!) Third, the pastor wanted to inform Mark of which denomination had the best pension plan. (He was so wrong!)


When I heard this statement, I LOLed, as I often do. However, it also hurt inside because not only was the pastor misled about the priorities of the pastor, this was extra ammunition for Mark’s dad to use and point out one more aspect of the misguided nature of “the church”. And his father did point out the inconsistency. Mark saw it too, but he was undeterred to journey further in his walk with Jesus. Praise the LORD! That said, the visiting pastor’s primary motivation should not be the pension plan of what a church or denomination will offer. The pastor’s primary role is to shepherd the flock to imitate Christ in their lives. This isn’t to say that a pastor shouldn’t also consider and plan for the future. But the visiting local pastor did not wisely exegete his audience when he put forth his third point. Who knows? Maybe the visiting pastor didn’t fully understand his pastoral role, either!


I share this because as Christians, we can also learn from this experience. Even as a lay-member, we will be placed in similar teaching situations. We need to be careful that we don’t also sound like the visiting pastor who relayed an important message at the wrong time and place. Instead, let us heed the wisdom of King Solomon: “A person finds joy in giving an apt reply—and how good is a timely word!” (Proverbs 15:23 NIV). After all, delivering a message isn’t just what you say, but how you say it, when you say it, and to whom you’re saying it, too!


Translation:

一位牧師(為方便起見,我們稱他為馬可)與我分享了他年輕時的基督教歷程,以及沿途有很多障礙。 首先,馬可的父母,尤其是他的父親,不希望他參與任何宗教,因為他認為宗教是一種弱點。 馬可的父親是一名工程師,他看到從基督教信仰演繹出來有很多不一致之處。 (已經建立了許多不一致的地方。)即使父親在馬可周圍放置了反對基督教的圍牆,馬可在大學的第一年還是選擇閱讀聖經。 他因耶穌的福音見證而被說服,而決定跟隨基督!


但是,這對他的父母來說並不是一個好兆頭。 從積極的一面來說,馬可的母親也對基督教信仰開始產生了好奇,她與當地的牧師交談。 然後牧師來探訪馬可和他的父母。 然後,牧師分享了他為什麼在他們家裡的三個原因。首先,牧師說這是因為馬可的母親要求牧師來。 其次,因為這樣的見證通常意味著馬可將成為牧師。(他是對的!)第三,牧師想告知馬可那種教派的退休金計劃最好。(他錯了!)


當我聽到這句話時,我像往常一樣大聲笑著。 但是,這也使我心中傷痛,因為這到訪中的牧師不僅誤導了牧師的優先事情,而且讓馬可的父親使用他的額外彈藥,而指出了「教會」更多的誤導。 他父親確實指出了矛盾之處。 馬可也看到了,但他並沒有因為這樣就與離開耶穌更遠。讚美主! 也就是說,到訪的牧師的主要動機不應是教會或教派將提供的退休金計劃。牧師的主要角色是牧養羊群,仿效基督。這並不是說牧師也不應考慮和計劃未來。但是,到訪的牧師提出第三點時並沒有明智地理解他的聽眾。誰知道?也許到訪的牧師也不完全了解他的牧師角色。


我分享這一點是因為我們作為基督徒,也可以從這種經驗中學到東西。 即使是平信徒,我們也將處於類似的學習情況中。我們要注意不要像到訪的牧師那樣在錯誤的時間和地點傳達了重要的信息。取而代之的是,讓我們學習所羅門王的智慧:「口善應對,自覺喜樂;話合其時,何等美好。」(箴言15:23)。 畢竟,傳遞信息不僅是您說的話,還包括您如何說話,何時說的話,以及向誰說的話!

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