6/30/2019: Animals in the Church (教會中的動物)
Updated: Jul 24, 2019
by Rev. Benjamin Chung (鍾立恆牧師)
“The Elephant in the Room” is a euphemism for how there can be an issue within a group of people but because the issue has become a sensitive topic. Then, the awkwardness of the situation prevents the issue from being addressed by anyone and the final result is the ignoring of the issue by everyone. Isn’t this embarrassing! (It certainly is for the newcomer to the group who sees the elephant and wonders why everyone else walks around the elephant and pretends it is invisible!)
Growing up in the church, I recall the discussions when I was younger about whether or not children should participate in certain activities because it may or may not be Christ-like or appropriate. In fact, a pastor’s wife shared with me recently of who grew up going to a church that was very strict. She is about my age, and yet she shared about how they weren’t allowed to go watch movies at the movie theater, or dance, or even wear pants because she was a woman. She was required to wear dresses to church and was expected to always wear a dress. Even today!
Now, the Bible doesn’t say that we can’t go to movies or that dancing is not allowed. In fact, the Bible DOES want us to dance before the Lord! However, this topic likely goes undiscussed because it becomes a golden calf for the church. In other words, it becomes law, even though it is not law. (To be clear, it IS acceptable to go dancing. Just remember to be modest.)
What other topics might be awkward to discuss? I know that growing up, some parents at church were adamant about not going Trick or Treating on Halloween. Then a golden calf was created because they did not allow the topic to be addressed.
Pretending something isn’t there by not addressing it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It’s still there. Instead, we should attempt to address the topic in a positive and open-minded way. We should seek to not hurt anyone’s feelings, as Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger”.
On the other hand, Colossians 4:6 teaches us, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” This means, we must answer wisely. I pray we all do answer and answer wisely! If we don’t address the elephant or calf, when the Day comes we will still need to answer the LORD as to why we let all the animals into the church (and even into our own lives). So fear the LORD more than the animals. Lastly, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10). God is greater than the animals. Be wise and fear Him!
英語中有句諺語「房間裡的大象」，是講述一群人中出現的問題，而這個問題亦已經成為一個敏感話題，敏感程度相當高，令人尷尬，群體中無人願意面對或去解決問題。最終的結果是這群人都躲避這個問題，而不去解決。 這個場面極其難為情！ （對於剛看到這隻大象的新朋友來說，一定好奇為什麼大家假裝看不見這大象！）
我在從少在教會裡長大，我記得年輕時教會會討論年輕人是否應該參加某些活動，因為那些活動不適當或不太像基督徒應該參與的。 一位牧師的妻子最近與我分享，她是一位在非常嚴格的教會長大的女基督徒。 她與我的年齡相約，但她分享她年輕時教會如何不允許她去電影院看電影或去舞會。甚至因為她是女性，進入教會也不可穿褲子，只可穿裙，直到今日！
其實聖經並沒有教導我們不能去看電影或不允許跳舞。 事實上，聖經希望我們在主面前頌讚跳舞！ 然而，這個話題可能從來沒有在她的教會被討論。而不能去看電影或不允許跳舞亦仿佛成為教會中的金牛犢。 換句話說，即使它不是聖經的教導，也成為了不成文的規條。 （要清楚，跳舞是可以接受的，但緊記要適宜。）
另一方面，歌羅西書4：6教導我們：「你們的言語要常常帶著和氣，好像用鹽調和，就可知道該怎樣回答各人。」這意味著，我們必須要有智慧地回答。 我禱告我們能有智慧地回答不同的問題！ 如果我們不解決在我們當中的大象或金牛犢，那麼當回天家的那天，我們仍然需要向上帝回答，為什麼我們會讓這些「動物」進入教會（甚至進入我們自己的生活）。 我們要敬畏耶和華，不要畏懼這些「動物」。 最後，「敬畏耶和華是智慧的開端；認識至聖者便是聰明。」（箴言9:10）。 上帝超越任何「動物」。 要有智慧，並要敬畏祂！