Saturday, June 6, 2015


张国昇牧师3/8/ 2015

春江水暖:海德公园Querries 石矿湖
Hero worship is nothing new. We always look up to someone as our life model. It is also very natural for many people that their first hero or heroine is their father or mother because they are the first ones that come into their lives.
If I don’t tell you, you probably would not know that your pastor was quite ‘HIP’ once.
I remember when I was growing up and begin to know more about the outside world I was most impressed by those singers who voice were so captivating that seemed to reach down to my very soul. Remember Bing Crosby’s I’m dreaming of the White Christmas; and I am a great pretender. The Gospel music like George Beverly Shea’s How Great thou art; and Ethel Waters’ His Eye is on the Sparrow. Then, of course came along Elvis Priestley with his guitar. Although I was not as crazy as some of my contemporary girls, I must admit I was quite impressed by the voice of that handsome golden boy. As I grew older I was less impressed by the Beetles which I only considered as pest. That is because I am getting more and more old-fashioned as I grew older and older. I must confess I know next to nothing about singers like Amy Grant or Whitney Houston of the Y-generation. These singers generally impressed us with the conviction they sang those song; we worshipped them because we thought deep down in their soul they meant what they sang. Then, of course, the contemporary churchmen of Elvis Presley’s generation would think that he was devil possessed because he wriggled his hip too much; they called him ‘Elvis the Pelvis’. But in our time now he looked very tame because everyone wriggles their pelvic when they sing. Behind the music we look into the soul of the one who sings it—the hero that we think he is.

Young peoples of every generation love to imitate their heroes or heroines. Movies stars and pop singers set the trends for fashion. Their admirers dress like them, walk like them and even talk like them. They are called “idols” for their followers. The word ‘idol’ always strikes the cord of fear in a preacher’s heart. An ‘idol’ is an object of worship! Idolatry is a sin of worshipping someone or something as god. It is easy to commit idolatry. Young peoples worship movie stars because of their fame, their wealth and their popularity or their misguided sex appeal, the ‘stars’ become ‘idols’ to them. For the older generation, their hero may be someone who has an image of ‘successes’: someone with money, power and influence. The middle age folks of the X-generation spend so much time in making money and building a career; busy doing those activities become an obsession for them without knowing that they have, in fact, committed ‘idolatry’. There is nothing wrong with the love of music and the enjoyment of watching certain talented movie stars performing their best for entertainment. It is quite another thing when he or she becomes one’s ‘idol’. You really do not want to imitate everything these ‘heroes’ do in private life! In the same way it is necessary for young peoples to work hard to build a career and earn a comfortable living for their families; however when these activities become their obsessions, they become their ‘idols’.
Paul said I urge you to imitate me. (1Corinthians 4:16)  He went on to say, “Keep on imitating me, my friends. Pay attention to those who follow the right example that we have set for you.” (Philippians 3:17 Good News Bible) The first impression that I have in reading these passage is that Paul is a little too arrogant. How dare anyone to say ‘keep on imitating me’!  But the truth is, Paul said, “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ” (1Corinthians 11:1) Paul learned of Christ: Christ’s humility, meekness and obedience to his Heavenly Father. Paul set the right example for them to follow.  Paul said take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. The life-style that a mature Christian leads ought to be a model worth following. Paul was not arrogant; the people in Corinthian church were the one who were truly arrogant. The people whom Paul referred to were the people who only know how to talk but did not live accordingly. These people did not set an example with their lives and they did not have the spiritual authority in the church. For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. (1Cor. 4:20) Christian should set an example for other by imitating Christ.  To imitate Christ one must let go the old-self. Paul admonished them the true way to imitate Christ: “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with the continual lust for more. You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on  the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Eph. 4:17-24) It is not talking; not teaching theories. It is a way of life; practicing the teaching of Christ. It is easy to indulge in the practice of the old life-style to the extent of losing all sensitivities of decency; but we did not come to know Christ that way! We must ‘put off’ the old self; and ‘put on’ the new self. This new self is a ‘new creation’ in Christ; it is created to be like God in righteousness and holiness. How should this new man conduct himself? Paul had some advices for him. The new man must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to the neighbor. The new man should pretend no more. We often heard people say, it is hard to act like a Christian (作個基督徒很難); it is true it is difficult to act like a Christian; it is easier just be a Christian and let Christ lives in you. In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. (Eph. 4:27) Sure, anger is a God given emotion and we do feel angry sometimes. But do not lose control of our emotion and let the devil gain a foothold in your life. Once the devil is allow to gain a foothold it will soon bust the door wide open and invite itself in your life. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit, Paul said. Every time we allow our old selves to surface and sin against God by saying or doing something bad we grieve the Holy Spirit.  If we keep going back to our old selves we are not imitating Christ and we are not setting a good example for others to imitate us.
Paul said, “Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the Gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me.” (1Cor. 4:15-16) Paul had led them to Christ and Paul was like a father to them.  Paul had set an example for them to imitate. By God’s grace we have led someone to Christ; this new born Christian is like a baby and needs to have a hero in his life to imitate. It is not right just lead someone to Christ and dump him as an orphan. You job is not done by just leading someone to Christ; do not leave the responsibility of discipleship training to the pastor or the Sunday School teachers. The same is true in your own family. It is not enough just to read a bed-time Bible story to you children and take them to church services. Your children at home need a hero to look up to and imitate. The father is both their hero and their model. In our Christian walk we must seriously ask ourselves the question: Can we speak with confidence, like Paul, to our children, either natural or spiritual children, and ask them to imitate us and ask them to follow the example that we have set for them?

The Lord’s Supper:

Ephesians 4:1-7; 11-16