Born in Hong Kong
By a concerned Canadian
Like many who grew up in Hong Kong, I have a keen interest in what is happening to this little island. I am deeply saddened by the changes that have taken place over the past few years. Peace and quiet has been replaced by ongoing destructive demonstrations. The usual friendly and courteous manners of people there are replaced by rough and abusive interactions. The international standing previously enjoyed is taking a nosedive and a dense cloud of gloom covers the island. The Hong Kong that I know and love no longer exists!
While I grieve for my childhood paradise, as a Christian I look to the Bible for hope, comfort, and guidance to know how to pray for my brothers and sisters there. As I meditate, I’m led to the Epistle to the Hebrews. Let me share some reflections gleaned from that book.
First of all, we must have the correct perspective. In Hebrews 1:3, we see Jesus as the One who sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having made purification for our sins. According to Ephesians 2:5-6, we who are dead in sin, have been raised up with him and are seated with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Therefore, we should view current events not from ground level, but instead from a lofty height, where we could share the same view as Paul had from a jail cell in Rome, when he saw the history of salvation from eternity to eternity in Ephesus (see Ephesians 1:3-10, ESV).
Secondly, we need to look back to history. God has designed His plan from the beginning. The story of Melchizedek (7:22, 8:6) in the time of Abraham paved the way for Jesus, who was not from the tribe of Levi, to become the mediator of a better covenant. Moreover, Jesus Christ is superior than the high priest and all the sacrifices in the Old Testament. We need to continue to trust God to work out His plan in history. We should, for example, be greatly encouraged by the tremendous growth of the church in China — both in numbers and in maturity — during and after the Cultural Revolution.
Thirdly, we look confidently to the future. The author of Hebrews mentioned another rest for believers in Hebrews 4:9. This rest depends on the completed work of Jesus Christ for salvation. Many in Hong Kong are leaving the island for a better place. It is definitely not wrong to seek a safe place for ourselves and our family. Yet at the same time, we should also seek the final rest that is promised by God. This rest is guaranteed by the accomplished work of Christ. There is nothing we need to do. Hebrews 4:4 compares this rest to God’s rest in creation. The work is accomplished. There is nothing more God needs to do. Therefore, there is nothing more we can do. This rest is for those who are eagerly waiting for Him (9:28).
Having looked up, looked back, and looked to the future, we still have to look at the present. The author of Hebrews has some advice for us to carry on:
- To “exhort one another every day as long as it is called ‘today’ ” (3:13).The content of the exhortation is to hold fast to our faith in Christ, the mediator of the better covenant. We need to take heed to the dire warnings given (2:1–4; 3:7–4:13; 5:11–6:12; 10:19–39; 12:1–29).
- We are to press on to maturity by growing on the milk that we have been fed (5:12-6:2), by using what we have already learned to discern what is right and wrong in our present situations.
- We are to continuing to meet for worship (10:25), whatever the size of the meeting, and in whatever way.
- We are to strive for peace and holiness (12:14). Without the former, we definitely would not be able to achieve the latter.
- We are to consider how to stir up one another to love and good works (10:24). These last two commandments are especially difficult for those in Hong Kong in the midst of intense opposing political views. Family, churches and the entire society have been split along political lines. We need to pray for the Christians and Churches in Hong Kong to live out their faith in ways that is honouring and pleasing to God. Pleasing God was what Jesus came to do (10:7, 9), even if it meant sacrificing Himself.
Within Hebrews there are many resources to help us carry on. We have the Word (4:12-13) by which we can examine ourselves to see whether our motives are pure, and to see if we are in a right relationship with God. We have Jesus as our big brother (2:17), who is also our example in learning obedience through suffering (5:7-8). Jesus is also our High Priest who can identify with all of our temptations and who can comfort us (5:14-16).
Furthermore, to encourage us to press on in difficult times, we have the great cloud of witnesses (12:1) from the Old Testament (11:4-40). They “though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised” (11:39a). The promise is the rest that God has prepared for His people (4:9). The reason for not receiving is that “God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect” (11:40). The witnesses – sometimes known as the heroes of faith – are actually waiting for us to arrive. Then all of us by faith, altogether, will receive the rest prepared for us by God.
Hong Kong is not the only place that is changing. With the pandemic, the entire world has changed. Like an enlarging ripple, the coronavirus, invisible to the naked eye, has affected every aspect of our daily life – from the smallest details of personal life, to family life, to social life, to international relationships. Our world may never be the same again.
Let’s take heart from the benediction to the Hebrews to keep living for Him: “Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen” (13:20-21).