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「道成了肉身,住在我們中間,充充滿滿的有恩典(Charis)有真理(Alethia)。我們也見過他的榮光,正是父獨生子的榮光。」(約翰福音1:14)

拓展神的國度

Heaven

常常聽到「拓展神的國度」這句說話,自己也不經意地常在禱告中使用,自覺有更宏大的天國觀,總好過只顧著堂會四塊牆內的事那般狹窄。但最近上 Darrell Johnson 的課堂,對「神的國」這個觀念進行深入的神學反省時,才發覺這句說話實質上是有點問題的。

新約福音書和書信裡面,連接著「神的國」(Kingdom of God) 的動詞,按我用英文聖經粗略的數算,頻率如下:

  1. inherit/be given/belong/receive – 13 次
  2. come / waiting for – 12 次
  3. enter – 10 次
  4. proclaim – 9 次
  5. see – 2 次

第一個觀察:神的國就像承受產業一樣,是被施予,而不是爭取回來的。第二,耶穌出來傳道,第一句說話便是:「日期滿了,神的國近了。你們當悔改,信福音!」神的國是不斷逼近我們似的,就像一支軍隊慢慢進軍入城一樣,人應當戰戰兢兢地等候迎接它的來臨。第三,耶穌就算提到要「進入」神的國,其實他的重點是我們事先必需要在心志行為上願意作出重大的改變,去迎合神的國的新規則,而這正是悔改的意思。第四,路加/使徒行傳最常用的詞句是 “proclaim the kingdom of God”,意表著神的國是要去宣揚的。希臘文「福音」 (gospel) 這個字是 euaggelion。根據 TDNT 神學字典的解釋,它並非一個專用宗教術語,反而是一個非常獨特的軍事專用詞,意表:”a messenger running or riding on a horse across the hills, coming back from battle, declaring to the city victory over enemies”. 這証明路加用 “proclaim” 這字去形容宣揚一個大好的喜訊是比較準確的選詞。

所以,我們可以謙卑地「承受神的國」,也可以戰兢地「等候神的國來臨」。對於那些猶豫的,也可以決擇放棄那很難放低的,行窄路「進入神的國」。作傳道的,也可以「宣揚神的國來臨」的喜訊。但由始至終,聖經裡面都沒有丁點兒影子叫我們去努力「拓展神的國度」,彷彿神的國好像一個國際企業,上帝很想趕快進軍中國市場一樣,卻又無力,而需急 call 大量人手,sales 好 marketing 也好,總之要他們幫手拓展一個未開發的市場一般。

錯了。上帝並不需要我們為祂「拓展」祂的國度。神的國度、神的統治 (reign of God),自耶穌的來臨已經不斷壓逼地來到這個世界,正所謂:”the in-breaking of the eschatological kingdom, from the future into the present”. Darrell Johnson 說,無論我們喜歡與否,接納與否,神的國正不斷逼近。它的逼近也不期然會為這個世界帶來相當的張力 (tension)。而這張力,只有在我們願意順服退讓於神的國 (give way and realign to the kingdom of God) 才能夠得以消化 (relieved)。

所以,讓我們不要再自告奮勇,整天想著怎樣「為神」作大事,怎樣「為神」開拓新領域了。
我們要做的,並不是 “expand the kingdom of God”,而是 “yield to the in-breaking of the kingdom of God”。
我們不阻著神做事,可能已經算是幫了一個大忙。
就讓我們細心聆聽觀察上帝正在世上幹什麼,只求我們成為合用的器皿,配合祂的心意,成就祂親自要作的大事,這就夠了。

記得,主禱文是這樣開始的:

我們在天上的父:願人都尊你的名為聖。
願你的國「降臨」;願你的旨意行在地上,如同行在天上。

延伸閱讀:
Announcing the Reign of God by Mortimer Arias
The Trinity and the Kingdom by Jurgen Moltmann
Jesus and the Kingdom of God by G.R. Beasley-Murray


Posted in Mission & Evangelism, Posts in Chinese, Regent, Theology.

Tagged with , , .


5 Responses

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  1. Pakkin says

    好~
    切中要害~
    教會文化中的不求甚解,已到了危害神的國的地步了……
    Pakkin

  2. Edmund says

    The K of G is to be discovered, as Jesus pointed out in the 2 short parables found in Matthew 13.44-46.

  3. L says

    This is why I always wonder, is ignorance a sin? It may not always lead us to other sinful natures, but I think it definitely has the potential to do so.

  4. Samuel says

    Right on, Anson!
    Too bad that many in our churches even put a equal mark (=) between church(es) and the Kingdom. A friend of mine often said with sigh that we are building the “kingdom of the church” instead of the Kingdom of God.
    「我們不阻著神做事,可能已經算是幫了一個大忙。」ha ha ha…

  5. Anson says

    嘩,從來都冇諗過寫篇咁嘅嘢會引嚟咁大迴響。只係一日,已經有超過100個views。多謝大家在別處 cross-post。

    @Pakkin: 今次的思考,令我反省到我們平日慣用的口頭禪,有多麼的危險,內裡分分鐘包含著一些離經背道的壞鬼神學,而我們卻懞然不知。就算受過神學訓練的人,不好好地用腦分析下常用的言語,也一樣會很容易行差搭錯。真的要警醒警醒!

    @Edmund: Good reminder. Yeah, the Kingdom of God can also be discovered, but I guess its main emphasis is more on its incomparable value, rather than our action to find it.

    @ Leo: In Numbers 15:22-31, God has given instructions regarding how to offer sacrifices for unintentional sins. So in some sense, ignorance doesn’t make a person exempt from the responsibility. As far as ignorance in terms of knowledge and understanding, all of us are called to search and study the Scriptures, and ask for wisdom and understanding from God. No one is exempt from that, because we are called to love God with all of our being, including our minds. That’s why “sloth” or “laziness” or “carelessness” or what is called a “spiritual or actual apathy, putting off what God asks you to do, or not doing it or anything at all”, has been traditionally been included as one of the seven deadly sins. Let us not to ignorant, but seek to study and understand the Scriptures as best as we can.

    @Samuel: Yeah, you are right. I am just taking Systematic C and listening to the part on ecclesiology, and learned about the classic medieval mistake of equating the Church with the Kingdom of God. My question then is, how come some pastors hold such views? Didn’t they also study ecclesiology and learned about its historical fallacies and how best to define these basic terms (i.e. what is chuch? what is the K of G?)? I thought these are just fundamental stuff in theology. Was theological education a couple decades ago really that screwed up?