Tuesday, 16 November 2021
Title: He Understands
By: Shaun Ling
Text: Psalm 40: 2-3
“He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.”
Instead of watching “Dune” or “Eternals” this past weekend, I had the opportunity to watch the movie “Silence”, a story of two Jesuit priests who went on a quest to look for their mentor Padre Ferreira, after they had received news that he had renounced Christ while on the mission field in Japan. Japanese Christians in the 1600’s experienced great persecution from the Japanese warlords who pushed back on many who had embraced Christianity. Many Christians were forced to recant their faith or be tortured in the most gruesome way conceivable. That was the setting.
The ultimate act of recantation was a public display of stepping on the fumie plaque—a bronze portrait of Jesus enclosed in a small wooden frame. Those who stepped on it are then pronounced apostate and set free.
After a betrayal by one of the believers in the climactic scene, the central character Padre Rodrigues (played by Andrew Garfield) faced the ignominy of stepping on the fumie or see believers executed cruelly before his very eyes. And at this moment, he finally heard the voice of Jesus who had been silent all this while, “Trample! Trample! I more than anyone know of the pain in your foot. Trample! It was to be trampled on by men that I was born into this world. It was to share men’s pain that I carried my cross.”
In tears, the priest put his feet on the fumie. Dawn broke and he was free but consequently lived a life as a declared apostate and forever conflicted by his decision.
There are so many themes of martyrdom, doubt, betrayal, faith and forgiveness from this movie that I could share about. That is for another day.
One of the themes of this movie that I wanted to share today is of the internal struggle that we, as Christians, face versus what society expects of our behaviour as Christians. On the one hand, we have struggles and feelings on the inside; and on the other hand, what others perceive us to be on the outside. Like the priest who renounced Christ, we may have failures and sinfulness that we may seek to hide, while on the outside we portray what society or church expects us to behave – we say the “right” things or respond in the “right” way. I must confess that I go through that all the time.
I have learnt that we all have secrets that we hide – unforgiveness, addictions (to hobbies, money, pornography), casual lying, resentments, family conflicts, feeling unworthy, loneliness. Yet, I am comforted when I am reminded of a Man who suffered the ultimate betrayal. He founded a church on the back of one such traitor, a disciple who swore he never knew Him and another traitor, who tortured Christians but became the “Apostle for the Gentiles”.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)
With God, He can relate to our struggles and failures. It is okay to struggle. It is okay to experience failure. It is also okay to put on a good face in front of others, but what we need to learn is to be transparent before Him. He understands. He truly does!
Lord, we acknowledge that You care and understand our struggles. Even when You seem to be silent. Give us grace to be honest with our own faith and to acknowledge our failures before You. And help us to live our faith in appreciation of the amazing grace You have given us through Your Son.
在过去的几个周末里，我不是观看《沙丘》或《永恒族》，而是有机会去看了一部电影《沉默》。这是一则关于两位耶稣会神父的故事，他们在日本宣教的禾场上得知他们的导师 — 帕德雷.非利拉（Padre Ferreira）弃绝跟随基督的消息后，便开始寻找他们的导师。17世纪的日本基督徒遭受了日本军阀的巨大迫害，他们对许多跟随基督的人进行攻击。许多基督徒被迫放弃他们的信仰，否则会遭受极其可怕的酷刑。那就是当时的状况。
最终的背弃信仰行为是 “踏绘”， 当众踩踏在福米牌匾（fumie plate）上 — 一个用小木架镶起来的耶稣铜肖像。那些踩在牌匾上的人会被宣布为叛徒，然后获释放。
我今天想分享这部电影的主题之一是，作为基督徒，我们内心的挣扎与面对社会给予我们基督徒言行举止的期望。一方面，我们内心有挣扎和感受；而另一方面，我们在乎别人如何看待我们。就像那名弃绝基督的神父一样，我们可能会有失败和罪恶，我们可能会将它隐藏起来；而在外表，我们呈现出社会或教会对我们的期望 — 我们说 “正确” 的事情或以 “正确” 的方式回应。我必须承认我一直都在经历这些。
我了解我们每个人都有隐藏的秘密 — 不饶恕、上瘾（对于爱好、钱财、色情）、随意撒谎、怨恨、家庭冲突、感到不配、孤独。然而，当我想起了一个遭受了终极背叛的人子时，我倍感安慰。一名门徒发誓他从来不认识祂，祂在如此的一名叛徒之上建立了教会；而另一名背叛者则折磨基督徒，却成了 “外邦人的使徒”。