經文﹕ < 哥林多前書 > 6 ﹕ 1-11
我在台灣的時候﹐有一天晚上﹐我急急忙忙地想趕上一班公車去 參加一個會 議。不料想﹐我的左腿陷進了一個路上的小坑。這真是令人尷尬﹐我拔出左腿﹐叫了輛出租車回家換衣服去了。我記得當時自責﹐怪自己太粗心。如果我的母親看到這慕情景的話﹐她會說﹕“為什麼走路不長眼睛呢﹖” 如果這件事發生在美國﹐西方人的思維方式是﹕“我該去告誰呢﹖”如果我不小心將一杯熱咖啡打翻在自己身上﹐我會責怪自己太不小心。但是﹐有許多人卻會說“我要告麥當勞﹐因為他們的咖啡太燙了。”我們生活在一個充滿法律訴訟的文化中。在休斯頓地區﹐至少有 1 萬 6 千名律師﹔在舊金山﹐則至少有 1 萬 4 千名律師。國會議員中大約 40% 是律師出身。在我們的社會 , 有各樣的法律專業﹕事故和損傷﹐移民 , 領養﹐破產﹐商業﹐車禍﹐危險商品﹐離婚和分居﹐醫療等等。我相信在我們生命的不同階段﹐都得到不同律師的幫忙。律師是我們社會中非常重要的一部份﹐他們維護著我們的權力和利益。但是﹐打官司卻也成了我們和他人紛爭的解決方式。
讓我們聽聽 William Barclay 對於第一世紀希臘文化的描述。“希臘人天生就是一群訴訟的人﹐事實上法庭成了他們生活中一個主要的娛樂和消遣的場所……在希臘﹐每個人或多或少都是一名律師﹐花很大一部分時間來決斷或者聆聽法律案件。希臘人對於法律的熱衷是聞名遐邇的。”在希臘的影響下﹐古羅馬同樣存在這種訴訟的文化。在這種文化的包圍下 , 這訴訟的傾向也 很自然地進入了教會。
“ 1 你們中間有人和弟兄起了爭執，怎敢告到不義的人面前，卻不告在聖徒面前呢？”在這段經文裡﹐總共有 11 個問題。保羅用了一連串的反問來表達他的觀點。當時在哥林多教會﹐會眾在一些公共的法庭中彼此告狀﹐這令保羅非常吃驚和不安。在接下來的經文裡﹐他向我們做了解釋 v2-3 ﹕“ 2 你們不知道聖徒要審判世界嗎？既然世界要由你們來審判，難道你們不配審判這些最小的事嗎？ 3 你們不知道我們要審判天使嗎？何況今生的事呢？”
保羅教導我們﹕在世界的末日﹐聖徒將與基督一起審判世界。我們不清楚保羅說的審判天使是什麼意思。他可能是指審判那些墮落的天使﹐撒旦和他的隨從。不論如何﹐保羅的這番話的重點是﹕在末日審判時﹐聖徒的地位是如此之高﹐將與基督一起審判世界。知道了這個事實以後﹐我們再看接下來的經文 4-6 ﹕“ 4 你們既然要審判今生的事，為甚麼讓教會不重視的人來審判呢？ 5 我說這話，是要使你們羞愧。難道你們中間沒有一個有智慧的人，能夠審判弟兄之間的事嗎？ 6 你們竟然是弟兄告弟兄，而且告到不信的人面前去嗎？”這裡的邏輯很簡單。既然有一天要審判世界﹐難道你們中間就沒有一個人能判斷弟兄之間的事嗎﹖難道你們教會裡就沒有人能夠協調信徒之間的矛盾嗎﹖弟兄告弟兄﹐而且要告到不信的人面前﹐真是一件令人羞愧的事啊 !
1982 年﹐最高法院大法官 Warren Burger 寫道﹕“我們的法庭變得如此繁忙和不堪重負﹐原因之一是美國人越來越傾向于到法庭上釋放個人的壓力和焦慮。一些從前可以在民間就協調的紛爭現在都被人們帶到法院去解決。”在 1987 年﹐最高法院陪審法官 Antonin Scalia 做了如下的觀察﹕…我認為我們沒用和平的方式協調矛盾 , 而 太急于用不友善的方式通過為自己辯護或者向人尋仇報復的方式去解決衝突﹐……一個好的基督徒﹐就像他要慢慢動怒一樣﹐也要慢慢的去起訴別人。
幾年前﹐一些基督徒的律師聯合起來﹐組成了一個叫做“使人和睦”的事工。他們的目的是幫助協調基督徒之間的衝突﹐從而避免互相往法庭控訴。他們也提供了一些課程﹐教導信徒之間 , 和教會之間如何處理矛盾﹐如何和睦相處。
保羅在教導信徒不要把弟兄姊妹間的衝突帶到世俗的法庭之余﹐還對信徒之間對薄公堂的現象表達了驚訝之情。 V7-8 “ 7 你們彼此告狀，已經是你們的失敗了。為甚麼不寧願受委屈呢？為甚麼不甘心吃虧呢？ 8 但你們反倒使人受委屈，叫人吃虧，而且他們就是你們的弟兄。”在第一世紀﹐往往只有富人才請得起律師﹐他們也時常通過賄賂的手段收買法官﹐贏得官司。保羅指出﹕信徒之間彼此告狀﹐已經是一件失敗的事了。不僅如此﹐打官司的目的就是要告倒對方﹐打官司時 , 雙方必有一個是贏家。保羅問道﹕為什么不能受委屈﹖為什麼不能吃虧呢﹖為什麼不能讓步呢﹖為什麼不能輸一次呢﹖為什麼要固執地堅持自己是對的呢﹖
很多時候﹐我們起訴別人是因為感到受到了錯待。對方侵犯了我的權利。我們要報復﹐得到補償。在任何法律訴訟以後﹐雙方的關係必定破裂。我們看重個人的得失﹐勝於基督徒團體的和睦相處。我們不願做一個輸家 , 因為在美國文化裡 , 這是一個很陌生的觀念 . 我們都要嬴 . 但神的話語教導我們說 , 身為神的兒女 , 我們為了恢復一個破壞的關係 , 我們要有一顆願吃虧的心 .
我想到一位剛信主的信徒﹐他甘願放棄價值 2 萬美金的生意﹐而不願通過法律手段去索取賠償。還有一個信徒上當受騙﹐白白浪費了一筆投資。對方也是一位信徒。他可以訴諸法律以追回錢款﹐但是﹐在長時間的禱告之後﹐他決定放棄。他願意接受損失。
話又說回來﹐報復的手段是否也是多種多樣呢﹖除了法律手段以外﹐我們有時會從一個關係中退出﹐或用尖利刻薄的話語傷害對方。這些都不是解決問題之道。就像第 4 章所說的那樣﹐當我們被錯待的時候﹐要寬恕﹔當受到傷害的時候﹐要禱告﹔當被詛咒的時候﹐我們反要祝福。從人性的角度看﹐我們或許是受到了損失。但是﹐事實是怎麼樣的呢﹖請不要忘記﹐還有一個更高的法庭。神將施行最終的審判。他的審判是終審判決。
經文第 9-11 節是幫助我們理解動因的關鍵經文。“ 9 你們不知道不義的人不能承受 神的國嗎？不要自欺，無論是行淫亂的、拜偶像的、姦淫的、作孌童的、親男色的、 10 偷竊的、貪心的、醉酒的、辱罵人的或勒索的，都不能承受 神的國。 11 你們有些人從前也是這樣的，但現在藉著我們主耶穌基督的名，靠著我們 神的靈，都已經洗淨了，聖潔了，稱義了。”在這裡所列舉的罪都可以在 5 ﹕ 10-11 看到。這裡﹐保羅加了“姦淫的、作孌童的、親男色的、偷竊的” 。“姦淫” 指的是婚姻之外的性行為。這裡用“作孌童的、親男色的” 兩個詞來形容同性戀行為。一個是被動﹐另一個是主動的同性行為。
這是一份怎樣的清單啊 ! 就像是一幅描繪 Huntsville 或紐約州的 Sing-sing 監獄裡囚犯的圖畫。這個哥林多的教會究竟是怎麼樣的狀況﹖許多教會中的信徒從前就是這樣的生活狀態﹐但是現在已經不是了。有些人過去有同性戀的行為﹐現在已經不是了。因著耶穌基督改變人心的力量﹐他們已經除去了生命中的這些罪。
這對於今天的我們又有什麼意義﹖每天早晨﹐我總是很關注交通狀況。有時候﹐到教會三十分鐘的路程要開一個小時之久。路上可能有車禍或者某個信號燈壞了。我是遲到了﹐但是我畢竟趕到了目的地。生命是否同樣如此﹖當我們認識基督以後﹐開始有聖靈在我們裡面工作﹐幫助我們變得越來越像耶穌。是的﹐道路崎嶇不平﹐但是方向卻是正確的。在聖經裡﹐我們看到亞伯拉罕兩次否認撒拉是他的妻子﹐大衛犯了姦淫﹐約拿逃避上帝的呼召﹐以利亞逃避耶洗別﹐彼得三次不認主。生命的成長好像慢下來 , 甚至已經停止了。但是﹐我們看到了大衛悔罪的詩歌﹐以利亞與國王的對抗﹐彼得的懺悔和改過。他們繼續地往前走。我們也是同樣的狀況。我們過去生活在罪中﹐但是﹐基督已經洗淨了我們﹐使我們朝著聖潔的方向邁進﹐越來越像他。路途中會有失敗和跌倒﹐但是我們不會停在那裡。我們悔改﹐接受神的寬恕﹐繼續前行。
保羅也向我們解釋當我們相信基督時﹐有什麼結果。“藉著我們主耶穌基督的名，靠著我們 神的靈，都已經洗淨了，聖潔了，稱義了。”藉著耶穌基督﹐神已經洗淨了我們的罪。他使我們離開世界的罪﹔帶領我們和他建立和好的關係。他視我們為公義和聖潔的。彼得也表達了同樣的意思。彼得前書 2 ﹕ 9 “然而你們是蒙揀選的族類，是君尊的祭司，是聖潔的國民，是屬 神的子民……”我們是屬神的一個特殊群體。這位神是聖潔的神﹐在這三位一體的神裡﹐有完全的和諧。因為我們是他的兒女﹐我們屬于他﹐他也給我們清楚的指示 , 如何活出聖潔的生命並學會在基督徒的團體中彼此和睦相處。因為我們是屬神的一個群體﹐就要在這個群體中彰顯他的聖潔與和諧。因為這是一個被神救贖的團體﹐所以我們決不能包容那些不悔改的罪。因為這是一個被神救贖的團體﹐為了能彼此和睦相處 , 所以我們要甘心吃虧﹐情願被誤解﹐放棄自己的權利。
了解第 5 章和第 6 章的教導的關鍵 是要明白 我們屬于這位聖潔和充滿和睦的神。當神把我們帶進他的家門后﹐他也告訴我們應該如何在這個世界上生活。世界是充滿各種性道德的墮落和各樣的敗壞﹐但是教會不能被這些世俗的文化所侵蝕。這個社會熱衷于用法律解決衝突﹐但是教會不應該隨波逐流。神要求我們的行為和生活方式都能彰顯他。因為神是聖潔的﹐所以我們要在這個被救贖的團體中彰顯他的聖潔。因為三位一體的神是有完全的和平與和諧﹐他也要求我們在這救贖的團體中反映這種和諧。
在巴基斯坦的旁遮普 (Punjab) 大學﹐有一個龐大和有勢力的學生團體叫做 IJT 。他們堅守伊斯蘭的信仰﹐倡導不喝酒﹐不跳舞﹐不談戀愛。當學校引進一個音樂和表演的課程時﹐整個學校爆發了抗議行動。 IJT 的領袖說﹕“巴基斯坦是一個伊斯蘭國家﹐我們的學校必須要反映這特色……”我們也應該透過將自己委身於聖潔和和睦將神在我們當中彰顯出來 .
聖經清楚地教導我們﹕解決紛爭要我們學會謙卑自己﹐甘願吃虧﹐情願被利用﹐甚至被欺騙。我知道這不是一件容易做到的事﹐但是讓我們看看這段經文﹕ ( 腓立比書 2 ﹕ 5-8) “你們應當有這樣的意念，這也是基督耶穌的意念。他本來有 神的形象，卻不堅持自己與 神平等的地位，反而倒空自己，取了奴僕的形象，成為人的樣式；既然有人的樣子，就自甘卑微，順服至死，而且死在十字架上。”如果基督﹐上帝的獨生子﹐甘願到空自己﹐放棄自己的在天上的尊貴﹐為我們修復與上帝的關係﹐那麼我們還有什麼理由不能放下自己的一切呢﹖
Text: 1 Corinthians 6:1-11
Title: Living in Harmony
Theme: Since God has called us to be His own, therefore our conduct is to reflect this identity.
When we were in Taiwan , one evening I was rushing to the bus stop to catch a bus to a meeting. Before I knew it, I found that my entire left leg had dropped into a deep pothole. Embarrassingly I pulled myself out, got a taxi and went home to change. I still remember blaming myself for not careful. If my mom were there, she would have said, “how come you don't have your eyes with you while walking?” If this would have happened here, the western mind would say, ‘who can I sue?” If I spill a cup of hot coffee on my body, I would have blamed myself for being careless. But many would say, “I'll sue McDonald's for making the coffee too hot.” We live in a culture of litigation. In Houston , there are at least 16K lawyers, whereas in SF city alone, at least 14K. About 40% of Congress members are lawyers. There is a specialty law for almost every occasion in life: Accidents & Injuries , Adoption , Bankruptcy , Business , car accidents, dangerous products, divorce and separation, health care and so on. I am certain that at different stages in life, we have benefited from the work of different lawyers. They are a very important part of our society, protecting our rights and privileges. However, law suits have also become a means by which we either get our way or get even with others.
Let's listen to William Barclay's description of the 1 st century Greek culture. The Greeks were naturally and characteristically a litigious people. the law-courts were in fact one of their chief amusements and entertainments……In a Greek city, every man was more or less a lawyer and spent a major part of his time either deciding or listening to law cases. The Greeks were in fact famous, or notorious, for their love of going to law.” Under the Greek influence, the ancient Roman world was also a culture of litigation. Surrounded by this culture, it was quite natural to see such tendencies infiltrated into the Christian church.
With this background, we now come to the text before us. In this passage, we'll learn a simple truth that Since God has redeemed and called us to be his own, therefore we are to manifest peace and harmony in the Christian community.
I • Since God has redeemed us to be his own, we are to resolve conflicts through mediation among ourselves .
In vs.1 “ 1 When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? ” There are a total of 11 questions in this passage. Paul is using rhetorical questions to drive his point home. He was shocked and disturbed by the fact that the believers in the Corinthian church were suing each other in the public courts. In 2—3, he explained; “ 2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!”
Paul teaches that on the final judgment day, the believers would join Christ in judging the world. It is not clear exactly what Paul means by judging the angels. It could suggest the judgment of the fallen angels, Satan and his followers. However, the point Paul is making is that on that day of final judgment, the believers will be in such a high position, working with Christ to judge the world. Therefore, with this in mind, vs.4-5, “ 4 So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? 5 I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, 6 but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers?” The logic is simple. If you one day will judge the world, can you judge the disputes among yourselves? Don't you have someone in the church that can judge the disputes between the believers? It's such a shame that you have to bring your case to someone who has no relationship with Christ.
The Scriptures tell us that within God's church, He has given us all the spiritual gifts necessary to carry out her ministries. God has also provided us with resources within the church to help the believers resolve their differences and live in harmony. When we go to courts to settle disputes, it shames the Lord's name and will always damage relationship.
We don't do too well on this front. We have seen Christians suing Christians, one church sues another church over property, church members sue the church over disclosure of finance and property rights. Paul teaches: don't sue each other. You can settle this matter among yourself.
In 1982, Chief justice of the Supreme Court, Warren Burger, wrote: “one reason our courts have become overburdened is that Americans are increasingly turning to the courts for relief from a range of personal distresses and anxieties. Remedies for personal wrongs that once were considered the responsibility of institutions other than the courts are now boldly asserted as legal entitlements.” And then in 1987, associate supreme court justice Antonin Scalia made this observation: (in reference to 1 Corinthian 6:1-8)….I think we are too ready to seek vindication or vengeance through adversary proceedings rather than peace through mediation…..Good Christians, just as they are slow to anger, should be slow to sue.”
Several years ago, a group of Christian lawyers came together and formed the Peace Makers Ministry. Their purpose was to mediate disputes between Christians so that it will not be brought into secular courts. They offered classes on how to resolve conflicts between believers and different churches and organizations.
The scripture teaches that it is wrong to bring disputes between two believers to the court. We are told to settle it among ourselves. We are to find one or two mature believers to mediate and resolve the problem. Disputes between believers are to be settled through biblical mediation and not litigation.
II • Since God has redeemed us to be his own, we are to resolve conflicts by willing to take the loss.
Paul not only instructed the believers not to solve conflicts by going to the secular courts, he also expressed his surprise that they were actually suing each other. vs.7-8, “ 7 To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? 8 But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers!” In that 1 st century society, very often the wealthy persons would have the financial resources to hire lawyers, or bribe the judges to win his case against the financial lacking person. Paul pointed out to them that when they brought their case to the secular court, this itself was a failure. Moreover, the purpose of litigation is to win the case; one party will always come out as the winner. Paul said, aren't you willing to take the loss? Aren't you willing to be cheated? Aren't you willing to let go of your rights? Aren't you willing to be the loser for a change? Why did you have to insist that you are right?
Very often we sue because we feel we are being mistreated. Some one has violated our rights. We want to revenge and be compensated. In any law suits, relationship will always be damaged. We treasure our personal gain more than peace and harmony in the Christian community. We don't like taking a loss, This is very foreign to our culture. We want to win. But God's word teaches us that as God's children, we are to be willing to take a loss in order to restore a strained or broken relationship.
I think of a new Christian who was willing to give up over $20,000 worth of business instead of going to the court to claim it back. Another believer was talked into investing money into business venture which later turned out to be a clear case of fraud. The other person was a professing believer. He could have gone the legal way to get back his money. Instead, after much prayer, he decided against it. He was willing to take the loss.
Having said this, isn't it also true that revenge can take many forms? Besides litigation, we may also withdraw from that relationship, using cutting words to harm the other person. These are not healthy either. As we learn in chapter 4, when wronged, we are to forgive; when hurt, we are to pray; when cursed, we bless. From a human perspective, we may be taking a loss, but really? Don't forget there is a higher court. God will bring the final judgment. He has the final say.
III • Since God has redeemed us to be his own, we are to reflect Him in our community.
Up to now, we are clearly taught that disputes between believers are not be brought to the courts. God has provided us resources to solve such conflicts among ourselves. We also know that as believers, we are willing to be humble and take the loss. However, what is the motivation behind this? Why do we have to do this?
The key verses that will help us understand the rationale behind this teaching are found in vs.9-11, “ 9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God ? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God . 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. ” Most of the sins listed in vs.9-10 are found in 5:10,11. Here, Paul added ‘adulterers, men practicing homosexuality and thieves.” Adultery refers to sexual behaviors outside marriage. There are two words in homosexuality behavior. One is a reference to the passive participant in the homosexual behavior, and the other one is the active, aggressive participant in the homosexual behavior.
What a list. It is more like a description of inmates of the prison at Huntsville or Sing-sing in NY. What a collection of church members. What kind of church is this? Many Corinthian believers used to live like that, but not anymore. Some of them used to engage in homosexual behavior, but not anymore. By the transforming power of Jesus Christ, they rid such sins from their lives.
What does it mean to us today? Every morning, I try to pay attention to the traffic flow. Sometimes a 40-minute drive to church can take one hour. It could be an accident or a malfunctioning traffic light. Yes, it was late, but I got to my destination. Isn't this also true in life? After we come to know Christ, we begin to flow towards holiness and be more like him. There will be bumps on the way, but the direction is right. In the scriptures, we see Abraham denying Sarah as his wife 2 times, David committing adultery, Jonah running away from God's call, Elijah fleeing from Jezebel and Peter denying his lord 3 times. The flow seemed to have slowed down or even stopped. But wait, we saw David's psalms of penitence; Elijah's confronting the king, and Peter's repentance and restoration. The flow continued. The same is true with us. Yes, we used to live in a pattern of sinful behaviors, yet Christ has cleansed us and enabled us to move towards holiness and be like him. There will be failures and set backs in our journey, but we don't stay there long. We repent, receive forgiveness and move on.
Paul also explained to us what happened after we put our faith in Christ. “ But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” In Christ Jesus, God had washed us clean of our sins; He has set us apart from the world; He brought us into a right relationship with Him. He considers us as righteous and holy. This is what Peter meant, 1Peter 2:9, “you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, ….” We are God's very special people. This God is holy and within the trinity, there is perfect peace and harmony. Because we are his children, we belong to him, he also provides us with guidelines to show us how to live in holiness and harmony with others. Because we belong to him, we are to reflect his holiness and harmony in this Christian community. Because this is God's redeemed community, therefore we are not to tolerate unrepentant sins among us. Because this is God's redeemed community, therefore we are willing to suffer loss, be misunderstood, and to give up our rights so we can live in harmony.
The key to chapters 5 and 6 is to understand that we belong to this holy and loving God. When God brings us into his family, he also show us how to live in this world. Yes, the world is saturated with all kinds of sexual immorality and deviation, but the church must not let this culture enter. Yes, the society resolves conflicts via litigation, but the church does not have to be so. God wants our conduct and life-style to reflect who he is. Because he is holy, therefore, we are to reflect his holiness in this redeemed community. Because there is perfect peace and harmony in the trinity, he also wants us to reflect this harmony in his redeemed community.
At Punjab University in Pakistan , there is a large and powerful student group called IJT. It is fiercely committed to the Islamic faith. This group advocates no drinking, no dancing and no dating. When the university introduced a program in musicology and performing arts, the campus erupted in protest. The leader of IJT said, “ Pakistan is an Islamic country, and our institutions must reflect that….” The Christian church must also have the same zeal to reflect God by committing herself to holiness and harmony.
In this and other Christian communities, the issue is never whether we have conflicts or not. As long as we live in this world, as long as we carry our marks of brokenness, there will be conflicts. Conflicts between husbands and wives, between parents and children, between believers in a local church. The question is: how do we resolve them?
The scripture clearly instructs us that conflicts are to be resolved by humbling ourselves, willing to take the loss, to be taken advantage of, even to be cheated. I understand this is a very difficult thing for us to do. But let us listen to this: Philippians 2:5-8; “ 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” If Christ, the son of God is willing to empty himself, giving up all his divine rights in order to restore our relationships with God, are there any rights that we can not give up?
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