No pain, no gain. It’s true in the spiritual world also.
IT’S WORTH CONSIDERING
Most books I read are instructional and informational. Some are convicting or encouraging. A precious few are transformational. These are the books that have had a radical impact on my life. I recently finished such a book. It is The Insanity of God by Nik Ripkin. It gave an up close and personal look at the Church in other parts of the world-parts where persecution of Christians is a way of life. In this and upcoming articles, I will attempt to present some of the life-changing lessons this book has taught me. I hope you will let the truth of these lessons do its transformational work in you also.
The underground church in China has an interesting perspective on spiritual maturity. As they see it, to grow in the Lord, America has its seminaries. China has its prisons. That’s where their faith is really tested and matured. That’s where they come to really know God. In their world, prison is not a possibility, it is inevitable. It’s not a matter of “if”, but “when.” In fact, they don’t trust any leader who hasn’t spent at least three years in prison. Compare that to the average American Christian whose idea of persecution is when the service goes fifteen minutes longer than normal or when the air conditioning equipment is malfunctioning.
Chinese believers have clearly grasped something that Jesus often taught- that persecution can drastically change a person’s faith, and more often than not, the result is cause for celebration.
AS I SEE IT
After recently reading the accounts of the believers in China, I came face to face with a
faith-testing question. If Jesus offered me the possibility of a world-altering faith, one that looked like the book of Acts in living color coupled with spiritual maturity beyond anything I had ever experienced, but it required the kind of persecution experienced every day in China, how would I respond? Would I choose knowing God more intimately or my own comfort at the expense of spiritual growth? If I saw persecution coming, would I stay and face it or run and hide? Could I continue to sing the praise song, “Lord, I want to know you more,” if I fully realized what it would require of me?
The members of the Church in China have already come to grips with these and all other related questions. To them it’s all a matter of simple obedience. Since Jesus never ended His commands with “unless it brings persecution,” their position is simple-obedience regardless of the consequences. They have learned that unbridled obedience ultimately brings rewards that far outweigh the comforts we so highly cherish. Their eyes are fixed on the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (see Phil. 3:14). They have learned to set their minds on things above (see Col. 3:1) understanding that life here on earth is temporary. They understand the value of suffering:
…and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us (Romans 8:17-18).
What will you do with this “information?” Will you ignore it, hoping it will just go away? Or will you come to grips with what it means to enter into the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings? This brief article may be one of the most significant I’ve ever written, because the stakes are so high. It helps to explain why the road to life is so small and why so few find it (see Matt. 7:14).