經文﹕ < 創世紀 >1 ﹕ 26-27 ﹐ < 詩篇 >139 ﹕ 13-16
在德國法蘭克福市參加完福音營的活動後﹐ Josh 和他的太太 Alyona 帶我們去慕尼黑做短暫的訪問。我們參觀了座落于 Dachau 鎮上聲名狼藉的 Dachau 集中營。那是納粹在 1933 年所建造的第一個集中營﹐之後德國所有的集中營都是模仿它的樣式而建造的。在二戰期間﹐那裡成為納粹實施慘絕人寰的大屠殺的魔窟。在參觀展覽大廳的時候﹐我們發現有一座石碑矗立在那裡﹐默默地向所有在那裡遇難的人們致哀。我們不禁為納粹對人類犯下的如此殘酷罪行感到陣陣反胃和惡心。
我相信你們在參觀其他類似紀念館的時候也會產生同樣的感受﹐比如 Holocaust Museum , Nanking Massacre Museum 或者 Hiroshima Peace Memorial 。 你是否想過﹕為什么我們會對這些六十年前的行為感到如此惡心﹖為什麼每當我們看到有人遭受非人道的虐待﹐或者是發生類似在中東地區的殘忍殺害戰爭的時候﹐我們會感到如此反胃﹖為什麼當有墮胎發生以後﹐無論是親身經歷還是耳聞目睹﹐無論我們能找到多少冠冕堂皇的理由﹐在內心深處都感到因損失而有的無比的痛苦﹖這一切都是為什麼呢﹖
不僅如此﹐雖然人類和動物都是被神所創造的﹐但是兩者卻是有本質不同的。 < 創世紀 >1 ﹕ 26-27 ﹐“ 26 神說：‘我們要照著我們的形象，按著我們的樣式造人；使他們管理海裡的魚、空中的鳥、地上的牲畜，以及全地，和地上所有爬行的生物！’ 27 於是， 神照著自己的形象創造人；就是照著他的形象創造了人；他所創造的有男有女。”在這裡﹐聖經中反復出現“形像” 一詞﹐突現了人類和其他一切被造物的區別。只有人類是按著上帝的形像被造的。
人們針對這個“形像”包括什麼內容的討論有很多。我們需要明確的是這個“形像” 不包括只屬于上帝的屬性和特徵﹕比如全能﹐全知﹐無窮智慧和無所不在。這些特性是只屬于上帝的。這裡所指的“形像” 是代表了神的創造性﹐愛心﹐感情﹐溝通能力﹐理性和道德。這些不屬于上帝獨有的屬性﹐是可以被複製的。因為人是按著上帝的形像被造的﹐所以我們在人的身上看到了這些神的屬性。
我們繼續讀 < 創世紀 > ﹐看到亞當和夏娃的長子該隱殺了自己的弟弟亞伯。上帝判該隱犯了殺人罪﹐要他為此受到懲罰。為什麼﹖因為人的生命是特別的。我們還讀到﹕上帝保護該隱﹐警告那些可能傷害該隱的人。為什麼﹖因為即使是人類背棄了上帝﹐生命依然是特別寶貴的。洪水之後﹐上帝對挪亞說 ( 創世紀 9 ﹕ 6) ﹕“流人血的，人也必流他的血；因為 神造人，是按著他自己的形象。”因為生命是特別的﹐神聖的﹐所以殺人的代價就是死。為什麼人類的生命是特殊和受保護的﹖因為我們是按著神的形像造的。 人類的生命是特別的﹐是神聖的。
現在我們來到摩西時代。在十條戒律中﹐有六條是為了保護他人權益的。不可偷盜﹐殺人﹐姦淫﹐做假證和貪戀別人的財物。 < 申命記 >27 ﹕ 16-19 ﹐“輕慢父母的，必受咒詛……輕慢父母的，必受咒詛……使瞎子走錯路的，必受咒詛……對寄居的和孤兒寡婦屈枉正直的，必受咒詛……”為什麼對弱者﹐瞎子﹐寄居者和孤兒寡婦如此關照﹖因為他們和其他人一樣都是寶貴和特別的。他們的生命是神聖的﹐因為他們都是上帝根據自己的形像所造的。
我們接下來看智慧書。 < 箴言 >31 ﹕ 8-9 “你要為不能自辯的人開口說話，為所有貧苦的人伸冤。你要開口說話，秉公審判，為困苦和窮乏的人伸冤。” < 箴言 >23 ﹕ 10 “你不可遷移古時的地界；也不可侵佔孤兒的田地。”為什麼﹖ < 詩篇 >139 ﹕ 13-16 “ 13 我的臟腑是你所造的，在我母腹中你塑造了我。 14 我要稱謝你，因為我的受造奇妙可畏；你的作為奇妙，這是我深深知道的。 15 我在隱密處被造，在地的深處被塑造，那時，我的形體不能向你隱藏。 16 我未成形的身體，你的眼睛早已看見；為我所定的日子，我還未度過一日，都完全記在你的冊上了。”為什麼人類的生命是如此特別和神聖呢﹖因為我們是按著上帝的形像被造的。
審視二十一世紀的世界﹐我們卻在這方面做得並不好。我們時常聽說在中東地區有滅絕人性的殺害事件。美國有越來越多的州允許醫生為無法醫治的病人實施安樂死。墮胎現象到處都有﹐僅僅在這個國家﹐每天就大約有 4000 胎兒的生命被人為終止。當代社會十分重視生活質量﹐社會越來越多地扮演起評判哪些生命是有質量的角色。我們喜歡健康和強壯的人﹐卻把年老的﹐殘疾的和未出世的視作負擔﹐認為他們都是無用的。我們也看到有無辜的人被冤枉判了死刑。
1. 當我看到週圍的人身上有上帝的形像時﹐我要學著用愛心對待他們。在我眼中﹐他們不再是被我利用謀求各人發展的工具。當我在教會裡遇到你的時候﹐我要不斷提醒自己﹐你是非常寶貴的﹐因為上帝按著他自己的形像創造了你。因此﹐我不能把你當作一枚棋子﹐一心就是想著 HCC 應該如何利用你的才能和天賦。相反﹐我要用尊嚴和尊重來對待你。當我看到你身上彰顯著上帝的形像時﹐我要盡力用愛心和禮貌對待你。無論你是誰﹐從哪裡來﹐穿著如何﹐膚色怎樣﹐我都會主動去關愛和照顧你。當我們星期五和星期天來教會的時候﹐除了和自己熟悉的朋友交流談話以外﹐應該更加留意那些我們不認識的人﹐跟那些與你本質上或者看上去不同的人交談。你們知道我對這個教會的夢想是什麼嗎﹖我對這教會有一禱告和夢想 : 那就是希望每一個進入 HCC 大門的人都能感受到他們的身份是特殊的﹐是神聖的。
3. 當我相信生命是聖潔的時候﹐我就不得不認真地看待 < 箴言 >31 ﹕ 8-9 。“ 8 你要為不能自辯的人開口說話，為所有貧苦的人伸冤。 9 你要開口說話，秉公審判，為困苦和窮乏的人伸冤。”隨著我對人類生命的神聖性越來越了解﹐我更清楚地看到窮人和困苦的人身上所受的錯待。無論我們去哪裡﹐也不論我們在哪個國家﹐我們都看到他們被忽視和壓迫。富人和強壯的人通常都有適當的資源用來保護和照顧自己﹐但是那些軟弱和無助的人們什麼都沒有。所以﹐任何時候 , 我們都要幫助那些軟弱和無助的人。我們也要為那些不能說話的人辯護﹐這些人中當然包括那些沒有出生的嬰兒和年邁的老人。我們是正義之聲。我有一些話對那些在我們當中的律師和醫生說。照理說﹐我不應該在這個講壇上只對一部分人來說這些話。因為我相信主的話語是對每一個人的。但是﹐今天我要破例一次。我看到我們當中有些醫生在診所裡為無家可歸的人免費醫治﹐感到十分感動。有些醫生放棄高薪的職位﹐選擇在城市公共診所工作。我也很高興地看到在座的一些律師免費為單身母親提供法律幫助。她們都經常感激你們為她們所做的一切。你的職業賦予你們為那些不能說話的人辯護﹐為那些貧困的人爭取權益的能力。你們的職業也讓你們有很多開口伸張正義﹐維護那些貧窮和有需要的人的權益的機會。請你們繼續幫助那些需要幫助的人。請將你們的公益服務遍及到所有軟弱﹐無助和有需要的人們身上。
我們在參觀 Dachau 集中營紀念館的時候﹐發現那裡離市區不遠。當大屠殺在集中營裡被秘密進行的時候﹐ Dachau 市的市民感到了一些不對勁﹐但是他們卻毫無作為。當美軍解放了這座集中營的時候﹐強迫市民去那裡了解真相﹐那是多麼驚人的發現啊 ! Dachau 市的市民不知道發生了什麼﹐所以對於在他們身邊發生的這些暴行也無動于衷。
與 40 年代 Dachau 市民被蒙在鼓裡不同﹐在今天這資信爆炸時代﹐我們都很清楚地知道身邊在發生什麼事。我們時常看到無辜的人被冤枉判刑。我們知道在美國每天都有幾千例墮胎發生。我們知道在那些軟弱無助的人身上所發生的不公正。所以我們有責任為他們說話﹐關懷和愛護他們。為什麼我們要這樣做呢﹖因為我們每一個人都是很特別與有尊嚴﹐因為都是神按照祂的形像被造的。
Text: Genesis 1:26-27, Psalm 139:13-16
Title: Sanctity of Life
Theme: Since human life is sacred because we are God's image bearer, therefore we’re to treat lives with great respect and dignity.
After the Gospel camp in Frankfurt , Germany , Josh and his wife Alyona took us to Munich for a brief visit. We visited the infamous Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial in the city of Dachau . This Camp was the first camp built by the Nazis in 1933 and became the model for all the other concentration camps. During WWII, it increasingly became the site of mass murders. As we walked through the exhibition hall, there was the stony silence to honor those who died there. At the same time, one felt sick to the stomach over the atrocities done to fellow human beings.
I trust that you would experience similar emotions as you visit other such memorials; the Holocaust Museum , Nanking Massacre Museum , or Hiroshima Peace Memorial. Have you ever wondered why we feel such sickness towards what happened 60 years ago? Or whenever we see injustice done to another person, or lives being taken in some senseless killing, such as what is going on in the Middle East, that we feel disgusted? Or whenever there is an abortion, be it a first-hand experience or someone we know, even though intellectually we can find ways to justify such actions, yet deep within, there is a painful sense of loss. Why?
I. Human life is very special.
We feel this way because we understand that human life is very special. This morning I’d like to walk you through the Bible to explore the basis for such recognition.
1. The creation account.
The Bible tells us that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. He created the non-conscious world; the mountains, the seas, and the galaxies. He also created the conscious world including the plants, animals and human beings. Men, animals and plants are all part of the created world, living in a common environment. Therefore, we expect certain degree of similarities among them.
2. The creation account of first man.
However, there is more to this. Yes, both men and animals are created beings, but there is something that separates the two. In Genesis 1:26-27 we read, “ 26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” The repeated usage of the word ‘image’ brings out a clear message that man is different from all the other creation. Man alone is made in God's image.
There have been discussions about what this image consists of. It is important to understand that this image does not include characteristics unique to God, such as being all powerful, all knowing, all wise and all present. They belong to God and God alone. Instead, the image of God refers to His creativity, love, emotion, communication, rationale and morality. These are God's commutable traits. Because man is made in his image, therefore in man, we see the presence of such characteristics.
From this we see that man is a very special creation, different from all other creatures. Do you remember when others tell you that your child, your baby is so much like you? This gives you a sense of joy and satisfaction, right? This makes you feel that this baby is very special.
We are very special because we are God's image bearers. We are to reflect and represent the one who created us.
3. God's actions towards men.
As we continue the Genesis account, we read about Adam and Eve’s elder son, Cain, who killed his brother, Abel. God held Cain accountable for this murder. Why? Because human life is special. Later we read of how God protected Cain and warned against those who might hurt or kill him. Why? Because human life, even after our disobedience to God, is still special and precious. After the flood, God said to Noah, Genesis 9:6, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.” Because life is so special and sacred, the ultimate punishment for taking another person’s life is death. Why is man’s life special and to be protected? We are special because we are made in God's image. Human life is special, it is sacred.
4. Mosaic Laws.
Now we come to the time of Moses. Out of the 10 commandments, there are 6 directed to the protection of fellow human beings. We are not to steal, murder, commit adultery, falsely accuse others and not to covet others’ belongings. And then in Deut 27:16-19, ““‘Cursed be anyone who dishonors his father or his mother.’ ….. 17 “‘Cursed be anyone who moves his neighbor’s landmark.’ …… 18 “‘Cursed be anyone who misleads a blind man on the road.’ …….. 19 “‘Cursed be anyone who perverts the justice due to the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.’ ……” Why such special care and protection of the weak, blind, foreigners, orphans and widows? Because, like everyone else, their lives are very special. Their lives are sacred, because they are all God's creation and his image bearer.
5. Wisdom Literature.
We move on to the wisdom literatures. Proverbs 31:8-9, “ 8 Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. 9 Open your mouth, judge righteously,
defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Proverbs 23:10, “ 10 Do not move an ancient landmark or enter the fields of the fatherless, for their Redeemer is strong; he will plead their cause against you.” Why? Psalm 139:13-16 explains it well, “ 13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them,…” Why is human life so special and sacred? Because we are created by God in his image.
6. Jesus'' examples.
Then look at Jesus. Throughout his 3 years of public ministry, he reached out to the poor, the widows and the ones society despised. He welcome children to come to him. Why? Because each life is very precious and sacred, it deserves his special care and attention. As quoted in last week’s sermon, “In God's sight, there is no little people.”
7. The early church.
When we take a look at the writings of the early church, it is full of instructions on how to care and love for one another. Not just in words but actions as well. Again, we ask why such repeated instructions? They all point to one truth: Human life is sacred and therefore must be treated with great care.
Moreover, wherever Christianity goes, orphanages are built, special ministry to the women and those whom the society forgets, are being cared for.
This explains to us why when we see cruelty committed against another human often make us sick to the stomach. No matter what country we go to, no matter how imperfect the legal system is, there are laws to protect human life. For deep within us, we know that human life is very special, it is sacred. You see, it is special because it is created in God's image.
II. Sanctity of life and us today.
Looking at our 21 st century world, we don’t do too well in this area. Daily, we read of senseless killings going on in the Middle East . More States in this country are empowering the doctors to perform assisted suicide on terminally ill individuals. The on going of abortion on demand; just in this country alone, everyday about 4000 baby lives are terminated. With the emphasis on the quality of life, the society is taking on more and more responsibility on deciding which life has quality and which doesn’t. We adore the healthy and strong and see the elderly, the handicapped and unborn as a burden, of little use to the society. We also see innocent people being sentenced to death.
In the remaining time, I want to explore with you how we can apply this foundational truth, that human life is sacred, to our every day life.
When I see people around me as God's image bearers, I will learn to handle them with care. People will no longer be instruments for me to use for personal advancement. When I see you in this church, I have to constantly remind myself that you are very precious because you are made in God's image. Therefore I must not treat you as a pawn in a chess game, constantly thinking how HCC can use your talents and gifts. Instead, I am to treat you with respect and dignity. When I see you as God's image bearer, I will do my best to treat you with kindness and courtesy. No matter who you are, where you come from, how you dress, what your skin color is, I am to reach out to love and care for you. When we come to church on Fridays and Sundays, besides talking with friends, we can pay special attention to people we don’t know. Talk to those who are by themselves or appear very different from yourself. Do you know what one of my dreams for this church is? That everyone who comes through the doors of HCC will experience from the way they are treated, feel and know that they are very special and are sacred.
When I see my family members as God's image bearers, I, too, will treat them with utmost love, respect and courtesy. I like this prayer a lot: “Forbid that I should fail to show to those nearest to me the sympathy and consideration which thy grace enables me to show to others with whom I have to do. Forbid that I should refuse to my own household the courtesy and politeness which I think proper to show to strangers. Let Charity today begin at home.”
When we understand that every life is sacred, we’ll also remember to love and care for the unborn. We’ll do our best to help our friends who may be considering abortion, to lovingly and gently encourage them not to do so. To explain and show them the alternatives. Isn’t it true that seldom have we met someone who has regretted having kept the baby? When our friends decided to go the other way, we are there to love and accept them and to help them with the healing process. We may also want to volunteer our services at organizations that minister to women in crisis pregnancies.
When I am convinced that Life is sacred, then I will have to take Proverbs 31:8-9 seriously. “ 8 Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” The more I understand how human life is so precious and sacred, the more I see injustice done to the poor, the needy and those who are helpless. Everywhere we go, no matter what country we are in, we see them being neglected and oppressed. The well to do and strong ones usually have adequate resources to care for themselves, but not the weak and helpless ones. Therefore, whenever we can, we are to stand up for the weak and helpless. We are to speak up for those who cannot speak and this certainly include the unborn and the elderly. We’re the voice of righteousness.
I feel I would like to say a few words to the lawyers and doctors among us. As a rule, I do not use the pulpit to address a certain segment of the congregation. For I believe that God's word applies to everyone. However, this morning I will make an exception I am so encouraged and touched to see some of our doctors spending time at the health clinic to help the homeless. Or instead of taking a high paying job, working full time at a city clinic. I am encouraged and touched to see some of you offering free legal service to single mothers in need. They have come back and told me how much they appreciated your kindness and service. Your profession allows you to be in a position to open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Your positions provide you with many opportunities to open your mouth, judge righteously; defend the rights of the poor and needy. Please continue to help and speak out for the needy and helpless ones. Please continue to expand your Pro Bono services to the weak, the needy and the helpless ones in this and other cities.
When we visited the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial site, we found out that it was only a short distance from the city. While the atrocities were going on, the citizens of Dachau had some suspicion that something was not right, but did nothing about it. After this camp was liberated, the Dachau citizens were forced by the US Army to the camp to see for themselves what had happened. What a shocking discovery. The citizens of Dachau did not know what was happening and therefore did nothing about the atrocities in their backyards.
Unlike the Dachau citizens of the 40’s, in this information explosion era, many of us know what is going on around us.. We are aware that everyday thousands of unborn children are aborted in this country alone. We are aware of the injustices done to the weak, the helpless and the voiceless ones. The lonely ones are being left alone. The society, both in this and other countries, sometimes including us, has conveniently forgotten them, and turned the other way,. Therefore, it becomes our responsibility to speak out for them, to show care and love to those around us. Why? Because each one of us is very special; we are made in God's image.http://archive.hcchome.org/
Welcome to HCC's' Sermon archive directory. We are working to merge our archives to our current website @ hcchome.org
Please report any issues to the HCC main office or staff. Thank you.