Mandarin Sermon Translations

  • Galatians 1:13-17, 2:11-21 May 9, 2021 TLC Mother’s Day

    Living by Faith


    加拉太书1:13-172:11-21 202159, 母亲节


    This weekend we celebrate Mother’s Day, lifting up those who gave birth to us and nurtured us along the way. Every one of us has a mother; not everyone knows their birth mother or may have a troubled relationship with her as she couldn’t take care of you or failed in some way. For many of you, on Mother’s Day you grieve the loss of your mother, or you simply long to see her after all these months of separation. For several families in our congregation, recent births have brought great joy into extended families while young mothers suffer sleep deprivation from nightly feedings. For all of our mothers, we give thanks. May the gracious Spirit fill each of you with a mothering presence, guiding your feet into the way of peace, mercy and justice.




    Introduction of Scripture:



    For the next three weeks we will look at Paul’s letter to the church in Galatia, written about 20 years after the death and resurrection of Christ. Paul is angry, fuming actually, because though the church in Jerusalem had agreed not to require circumcision of non-Jews (Gentiles) who follow Christ, apparently a group disagreed with that decision and has been secretly traveling around and preaching what Paul calls lies: a false gospel message that was twisting the truth revealed in Christ, confusing those who heard: this false message required circumcision in order to be accepted by God. Paul’s letter to the Galatians was pivotal for Martin Luther during the 1500’s when as a Roman Catholic priest, he struggled to find a gracious God who accepted and loved him. Luther found clarity as he studied Paul’s argument about how we are made right with God. Paul wrote with great passion about holding fast to the central truth: we are all justified NOT by what we do or fail to do, say or fail to say, think or fail to think but we are made right through faith in Christ. God’s grace revealed in the dying and rising of Christ. In fact, Paul says he has experienced being crucified with Christ.




    Last week our new neighbours, Israeli immigrants to Canada, that when they first moved, decisions in daily life were exhausting, especially going to the grocery store. It was full of different products, organized entirely different, and finding familiar things seemed almost impossible. In daily life, we each are free to make multiple decisions about what we will eat, what we will wear, whom we will love. Theologians call these pen-ultimate things, which means less-than-ultimate things. In such daily life things, we exercise free will. But in terms of ultimate things, such as being made right with God, what theologians call salvation, we don’t have the power to choose. In Paul’s letter to the early church in Galatia, he says God chose him before he was born. So, what might it mean, did you catch that, that God chose us before we were born.




    Paul, in his letter to the Galatians says this about himself, not just that he was chosen before he was born but also called by God’s grace to a way of life that he discovered by first trying to wipe out the church. He tells his story: In those days I went all out trying to systematically destroy the God’s church. I was so enthusiastic about the traditions of my ancestors that I advanced head and shoulders above my peers in my career as a lawyer. Even then God had designs on me. Why, when I was still in my mother’s womb God chose and called me out of sheer generosity!” (Eugene Peterson’s translation The Message, p. 2114) How did Paul come to this realization? That God had chosen and called him before he was even born, while in his mother’s womb? No chance for Paul to decide to follow God, to choose God in any way; he wasn’t yet breathing or speaking in the womb. In this way Paul insists that being chosen as God’s beloved child depends completely on God’s grace.




    If we are chosen before we are born, how do we realize this? Have you realized it? Likely Paul realized this when Ananias prayed for him while he was struck blind by the light on the road to Damascus, after hearing a voice say, “why are you hurting me?” As Ananias prayed for him, something like scales fell from his eyes. Able to see again, Paul realized God’s grace had somehow chosen him, an enemy of the church, an enemy of God, and called him to love. Paul leans into “being chosen before he was born” as a way to begin telling the Galatians how all-encompassing God’s grace is. As Christians, we may think that people need to obey the 10 commandments in order to be accepted by God. Paul and Luther reject the idea that God only loves those who keep the law. In the Heidelberg dissertation, Luther writes, “The law says ‘do this’ and it’s never done. Grace says, ‘believe in this, (trust this) and everything is already done.” Grace means that God chose us before we were born and gives us forgiveness, love and life with God forever, as free gifts. This grace compels us to love our neighbours, to speak up when we witness someone being treated as less-than-human. But doing these things does not save us or even gain us any points in some heavenly tally.


    如果我们在出生前就被选中了,我们如何认识到这一点呢?你意识到了吗?保罗有可能在往大马色去的路上,当亚拿尼亚被光照瞎了眼时认识到的,他听见有声音说,“你为什么要害我呢。” 亚拿尼亚为他祷告的时候,好像有鳞片从他的眼中掉了下来。保罗又能看见了,他知道神的恩典以某种方式拣选了他,教会的仇敌,神的仇敌,呼召他去爱。保罗倾向于“在他出生之前被拣选”,以此开始告诉加拉太书上帝的恩典是如何无所不包的。作为基督徒,我们可能认为人们需要遵守十诫才能被上帝所接受。保罗和路德反对上帝只爱那些遵守十诫的人。在海德堡的论文中,路德写道,“法律说‘做这个’,但从来不是这样做的。恩典说,“相信这个,一切都已经完成了。”恩典的意思是上帝在我们出生之前就已经选择了我们,给我们宽恕,爱和生命,作为礼物,永远与上帝同在。这种恩典迫使我们去爱我们的邻居,当我们看到有人被视为不如人的时候,让我们大声说出来。但是做这些事并不能拯救我们,也不能在天上的某一点上给我们加分。


    I walked into a coffee shop in downtown New West recently. As I pondered what was available and walked up to the counter to place my order, I noticed out of the corner of my eye that the young woman waiting for my order was being distracted by a fellow employee. He was standing right next to her. As I glanced down, I realized that he was slapping her on the rear end, and she was swatting him away with her hand and smiling. While I placed my order, this happened multiple times. Though I wasn’t sure what was happening between them, it was inappropriate at the time. He could’ve been sexually harassing her, maybe they were a couple, or he was flirting…I didn’t know. Instead of wondering out loud, being curious with a question for her such as “are you okay with that?” I kept silent. What kept me from speaking up? Perhaps fear of what others would think or how the one slapping might respond. In social settings, it can be risky to truly love our neighbours. Every day we have a chance to do the right thing; sometimes we move that way and other times we don’t. But messing up doesn’t mean God rejects us. God has still chosen us before we were born. And right now, the love of Christ urges us on to love our neighbours, to trust God loves, accepts and forgives us and to share that love with our neighbours.


    我最近走进了New West的一家咖啡店。当我走到柜台去点咖啡时候,我从眼角里注意到,站在柜台的年轻女人正被一个同事骚扰。他就站在她旁边。当我往下看时,我意识到他在打她的屁股,而她笑着用手把他打跑。当我下订单时,这件事发生了很多次。虽然我不确定他们之间发生了什么,但这在当时是不合适的。他可能在性骚扰她,也许他们是一对夫妻,或者他在调情……我不知道。我没有大声疑惑,也没有好奇地问她一句,比如“你没事吧?”反而我保持沉默。是什么让我没有勇气开口?也许是害怕别人会怎么想,或者是害怕被扇耳光的人会有什么反应。在社交场合,真正得去爱我们的邻居是有风险的。每天我们都有机会做正确的事;有时我们会这样做,有时我们不会。但做错的行为并不意味着上帝拒绝了我们。在我们出生之前,上帝仍然选择了我们。而现在,基督的爱激励我们去爱我们的邻舍,相信神的爱,接纳和宽恕我们,并与我们的邻舍分享这份爱。


    Even first century Jews didn’t believe they were made right with God by morally perfect law-keeping. Rather they were saved by grace, chosen by God through the promise made to Abraham. They demonstrated this grace by following God’s law. Following the law provided a framework for faithful living out of God’s grace. But the law, for Paul, had become a prison. He had become a slave to the law. Paul says, “I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So, I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man.” (The Message, Eugene Peterson, p.2115)


    即使是一世纪的犹太人也不相信他们能通过道德上完美的守法而与上帝和好。相反,他们是通过上帝的恩典,通过对亚伯拉罕的应许而得救的。他们遵行神的律法,显出这恩典。遵行律法为信实人的生活提供了一个框架。但律法,对保罗来说,成了监牢。他成了法律的奴隶。保罗说:“我试着去遵守规则,拼命的讨好上帝,但没有成功。所以,我不再是一个“法律人”,这样我才能成为上帝的人。” (尤金彼得森,第2115页)


    You are God’s beloved child, chosen before the foundation of the world, chosen before you were born, to belong to God. As the church we are each called to welcome people whose lives are messy, who don’t live the 10 commandments, who don’t even know what those commands are, and who don’t even care. As we love we just may find, as Paul did, that God’s grace is expanded to include all people whose lives are messy, including ours, and calls us all to radical dependence upon this grace for life. As we love, we grow, because we die to ourselves, to having things go our way, to getting what we want when we want it, to expecting any special treatment. Then we find real life, together in Christ. That’s what Paul means when he says: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”



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