8/2/2020 United, yet with different convictions (雖信念不同仍團結一致)
by Rev. Benjamin Chung (鍾立恆牧師)
Mark 3:24-25 (ESV) If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. (Also found in Matthew 12:25).
With the recent news of churches opening and resuming in-person services, including well known pastor John MacArthur’s very large Grace Community Church in Southern California, we might be wondering if this means that it is now time for SFCBC to resume as well. Conversely, some of us may think Grace Community is resuming in-person gatherings too quickly. Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church (near our old Chinatown location) has come under fire for holding mass and a wedding too. In the
end, I believe that this is up to the individual church. For us at SFCBC, we also know that quite a few of us are hesitant to resume service at our Noriega St. and 34th Ave. location, and for good reason. This is why we are “assembling” online for worship. Each church is a different entity and unique unto themselves. The importance is that we work together to build up and not tear down, especially when it comes to issues that are not as clear biblically. We set a dangerous precedence when a conviction becomes dogma.
And the argument to meet is valid. The state does not have utmost authority over the church. The Lord does. As believers, we have seen throughout history of both the times of persecution and the times of peace the church and government exhibited together. During times of persecution by the government upon the church the believers did choose to stand upon their conviction to worship and obey Christ Jesus. The dilemma becomes increasingly complex when a contagious virus is thrown into the mix. With the goal of protecting the population, the state has chosen to prevent the
spread of COVID-19 by closing down restaurants, gyms, stores, ball parks and other places where people might congregate. This includes church gatherings. Then, with the added large-scale protests (we will save rioting for another article) this is causing some to see the state as overstepping its authority and being discriminatory.
We must be careful of when a conviction becomes dogma. We must be careful as believers to live out their faith according to how the Holy Spirit leads them. We have chosen to work in congruence with the local county’s advice to keep the church’s physical doors closed. This is our choice.
Let us not be like other churches who shame other churches for not championing a specific cause of injustice. But let us also consider if there is a cause we can unite behind and support as a church. We are a part of a great Church—let us live us such, even if we have different convictions. For if we bicker over whether other churches should open, the Church of God is fighting against itself and will not stand. Let us be united whenever possible!
若一國自相分爭，那國就站立不住；若一家自相分爭，那家就站立不住。馬可福音 3:24-25 (亦見於馬太福音 12:25)
最近有許多教堂重開和恢復禮堂敬拜的消息，其中包括了著名牧師 John MacArthur 在南加州的那間超大型的恩典社區教會。我們也許會問，這是否意味著三藩市浸信會現在也應該重開呢？相反地，我們當中有些人可能會認為恩典社區教會恢復重啓禮堂聚會的速度過快。記得唐人街附近，接近我們教會舊址的那間聖彼得和保羅天主教堂嗎? 最近那教堂因重新舉行彌撒和舉行婚禮的事而備受抨擊。重開與否，我認為這最後取決於各個教會自己的決定。對於三藩市浸信會的我們來說，我們當中有很多人出於充分的理由未想在我們的Noriega 衐和34 街的位置恢復實體聚會。這就是為何我們現在於網上「聚集」敬拜的原因。每間教會都是不同的個體，每一間都是獨特的。而重要的是，我們應該共同努力去彼此建立，而不是彼此拆毀，尤其是在一些聖經上沒有清楚說明的問題上。當我們把一些個人信念化為教條時，便會立下了危險的優先順序。