October 21, 2016
I’ve been reading a book entitled LIVING WATER by Brother Yun, a Chinese pastor. What he has suffered for the Gospel is staggering. I was particularly struck this morning with what he wrote about discipleship.
In China new believers are immediately taught five things which all disciples must be ready to do at any time.
Disciples must always be ready to pray, regardless of the circumstances around them or happening to them. Prayer is the foundational practice because it is in our private times of prayer, alone with the Lord, that we get to know Him, to hear from Him and to adopt His ways.
Disciples must always be ready to share the Gospel. The words of Paul to Timothy are the mandate that Chinese leaders teach to the new believers: Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. (2Tim. 2:4) In China, this is not just a lesson in a classroom; new disciples are promptly sent out to put into practice what they are learning. Is it any wonder that millions in China have given their lives to Christ? It’s amazing what can happen when we love God more than we fear the face of man.
Disciples must always be ready to suffer for the name of Jesus. It is convicting to read testimony after testimony of arrest, torture and imprisonment of Chinese disciples which results in hardened criminals in the same prisons hearing the Gospel and coming to faith. Those testimonies are dramatic but the ones that touch me even more is when I read of Chinese disciples who have been disowned by their families, spat upon by friends, even beaten by parents because of their faith. And they, like the early Christians, rejoice that they are worthy to suffer for His Name’s sake.
Disciples in China are taught to live each day as though it could be their last. They are taught to be ready to be martyred because of their love for Jesus. Heaven is real to them; they lay aside the seductions of this world and look ‘for the city whose builder and maker is God.’
Disciples in China are also taught that they should be ready to escape for the Gospel’s sake if an opportunity presents itself, for Jesus said: ‘When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another.’ (Matt. 10:23)
Brother Yun comments that ‘there is great power in suffering for the gospel.‘ While thousands of Chinese Christians have been brutally tortured, imprisoned and even killed for the gospel, the Church in China has grown exponentially.
The early Christians in the book of Acts were also empowered and emboldened through what they suffered. After some of the Apostles were thrown in jail, the Lord delivered them supernaturally and they prayed ‘for more boldness’ to preach the Gospel (Acts 5:41-42)
How little most of us in America can relate but is that day coming? There are hints in our day that persecution of Christians could be coming in the near future.
Lord, I’m a coward by nature. I don’t like pain – physical or emotional. I know that right at this moment I don’t have the grace to be a martyr but at this moment I’m not facing that challenge. I put all my trust in You that if that day ever comes, You, Yourself, will be with me and carry me by your grace through whatever I may face.
I love you, Lord. You know I do, but I am reluctant to say “I’ll never fail You”. What I do know is that YOU will never fail me! And that’s all I need to know, isn’t it, Jesus?
Thank You for Your faithfulness!