The meaning of “To believe”

In his book, “A well-build faith: a Catholic’s guide to knowing and sharing what we believe”, Joe Paprocki writes:

“To believe is to enter into a relationship with another and to place our trust in that person. Until that happens, what we have is not a belief, but an idea. An idea evolves into a belief when it makes the leap from the head to the heart. Belief or faith is not blind. It is grounded in reason. We do not intimately love another person unless we have good reason (and some degree of evidence) to think that this person can be trusted. In the same way, we place our faith in God, not blindly, but based on good reason and some degree of evidence that God can be trusted. What is that evidence? Namely, the story of salvation history and the living witness of other followers of Christ. The Sacred Scriptures tell us the story of how God has been faithful to his people since the dawn of creation. The living witness of the saints – those canonized and those quietly leading lives of faith – provides us with credible evidence of the trustworthiness of God. Our own experience can also lead us to believe that God can be trusted. And yet, in the end, we have no proof, no guarantee – only an invitation to trust. And so, when we say in the Creed, ‘We believe in one God,’ we do so at our own risk. “

To help people to believe in Christ, we are to help them to trust God. The three main works for us are: 1) helping people to understand the meaning of the Scripture; 2) living out a faithful life; and 3) inviting people to experience God in their own life.


我在不同宗派的教會成長和擔任過牧職,有些完全不教導(甚至不主張)個人佈道;而又有些所教導的又太公式化。Reichar Peace 在他的書 “佈道對談 ” 裏給我們提供了寶貴的提醒:

“。。。通常人不會覺得基督徒是個好的對談夥伴,因爲我們似乎總是要向人宣告一個‘拯救計劃’,而不是與人對談。 有意義的對談,是雙方互有往還的對談。。。。有意義的對談不一定有結論,或分出勝負雙方。。。所引發的問題,可能比解答了的問題更多。。。有意義的對談會改變人,令對談雙方都有所改變。。。因爲我們都在一個屬靈旅程上,都需要成長和改變。 事實上,對談雙方都會在其中經歷歸信。”

每一次與人的相遇都可是進行一次對談的機。 但在現今我們的生活和社會裏,對人進行公式化的背誦宣講,在絕大部分的情況下都並不那麽適合和有效。

其實因爲出於對人愛,我們願意接近和認識人,當然會與人交談。 出於對人的尊重,我們並不會向人傾銷我們的信仰,而是我們的信仰在交談中自然地流露出來。 所以,我以爲關鍵信仰是否在我們的生活中各個層面有自然的流露和我們是否懂得如何與人好好地去交談呢?


作爲一名牧師和傳道者,我在Richard Peace 寫的書“佈道和對談” (Holy Conversation) 裏得益不少。 我在這裏要分享他其中一段關於”佈道和歸信“的論述:

“佈道是爲了使人歸信耶穌。 佈道是爲了讓人知道耶穌究竟是誰,也讓我們發現自己是誰。 佈道是關乎立志離棄具破壞性、不滿足的生活,轉爲跟從耶穌,追求生命完全。 這個轉向和跟從耶穌的經驗,我們稱爲歸信。。。歸信基督,就是聽從耶穌 – 耶穌成了活生生的一位,祂愛我,願意赦免我内心深處需得寬恕的罪。 我願意加入祂的群體,過祂要我過的生活。 我願意聽從内心深處的屬靈渴望,將它們由我生命的邊緣變成核心。 佈道對談的目標,是幫助那些在歸信途上的人。 然而,我們歸信耶穌後,不等於不在需要歸信。 其實首次歸信會為我們展開歸信的人生。 首次歸信(conversion)是指歸信耶穌,指引我們正確的方向。 日常生活裏的歸信(conversions)是指我們不斷又不斷持續選擇走在那路上。。。因此我們要傳福音,不爲甚麽,只爲人遇見耶穌後生命會經歷改變。”

我發現,在我以前的教會裏被教導的和我所教導的,都是不全面和深入的,尤其在“ 不斷又不斷持續選擇歸的”“歸信” (conversions)方面。 難怪,有許多人信了耶穌許久,生命並沒有多少的更新改變。 如今,我的牧羊更著重門徒的栽培,就是與人同行,助人和與人一起在日常生活裏不斷又不斷持續選擇歸信。

I learn about prayer from this Buddhist monk

When I read Haemin Sunim’s reflection on the Christian faith, I feel that this Koren Buddhist monk’s faith is deeper and more profound than some of the Christian authors and pastors. In his book, “The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down”, Haemin Sunim writes about prayer:

“We don’t receive more love from God by asking for it. Rather, we awaken to the truth that God has always loved us unconditionally…In the beginning, our prayer takes the shape of, ‘Please grant me this, please grant me that,’ and then develops into, ‘Thank you for everything,’ and then matures into, ‘I want to resemble you.’ Eventually it transcends language, and we pray with our whole being in sacred silence. As my prayer deepens, I hear more of His voice than my words. As my humility grows, I feel more of His love overflowing in my heart. As my mind quiets down, I sense more of His presence in every moment.”

I appreciate that Haemin Sunim has clearly shown us the different stages of our spirituality as we continue to seek and grow in prayer.

A good reminder for the missional community

As a church planter building a missional community, I like to read books on church planting. In his book, “The Honest Guide to Church Planting”, Tom Bennardo gives us a good reminder:

“…with all the emphasis these days on missional community, be careful that serving in the name of Jesus doesn’t become a substitute for articulating the cross of Jesus. One of the missional community strategy’s trends has been that a lot of good service happens, but it doesn’t always translate into transformed lives or repentance from sin. Missional community activity needs to be attached to message delivery. If it doesn’t, it devolves into social gospel.”

I have ministered in churches of different denominations. I found that each denomination has their own emphasis on being a missional community. I invited one denomination to feed the hungry while I encouraged another to give more attention to people’s souls.

In my opinion, Tom reminds us a missional community needs to offer people both good service and message. Good service and message are attached to each other.