A Christian who had just arrived in a free country after suffering years of persecution in his own was appalled at the seeming casual commitment to Jesus Christ from the strong materialistic contamination taking place in the lives of Christians there. So he spoke out strongly and somewhat bitterly. Sometime later he returned to visit that same friend to whom he had spoken so bluntly.
He asked if his friend remembered what he had said and the bitterness of his criticism. The friend remembered. They both stood silent for a few seconds, reflecting, and the one who had been on the receiving end of the bitter attack tensed for a second onslaught, but the criticizer said, “I have come to apologize both for what I said and the way in which I said it. I was merely afraid and ignorant of the situation here, for I did not know how dangerous freedom could be! It has been a year since I arrived and I am now worse than those I criticized.”
He then added a significant statement: “It is more difficult to live the Christian life under ‘freedom to choose’ than under repression.”
Before our esteemed brother in Guangzhou, Samuel Lamb, graduated to heaven to be with Christ, he repeatedly said to visitors, “We have physical persecution here but you there have materialism. Your lot is harder because we here know what we are spiritually fighting. Many times you don’t!” (Many believers here in China now know personally what is materialistic contamination!)
Another Chinese Church leader adds, “Once you are chasing money, there is not much time and energy for spirituality. The government knows that materialism will destroy the church faster than persecution can, so I tell my co-workers here in China that the enemy we are facing today is not only communism, it is also materialism.”
Bible-believing Christians worldwide continue to meet together wherever possible with or without their nation’s favour toward Christ. Irrespective of whether they receive some national and governmental provision, believers know that their first responsibility is to look solely to GOD, His Word and the Lord Jesus Christ in all things. Often this will mean meeting together in homes and simple cottage gatherings. They have neither rules, demands, controls, nor edicts of men upon them. They have neither earthly headquarters nor central control administration from another country. Their leader is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of GOD. Their guide is the Holy Scriptures, and they neither register to obtain governmental favours and status in the society in which they dwell, nor do they involve themselves in politics, but exist as salt and light for Christ within their locality.
The Bible believer’s bond is their word, whereby they seek to be truthful and speak truth in all things. The bond that keeps them together is not one of agreement to subscribe to certain ‘Church’ principles, but simply this: that when two individual people both love the same Lord Jesus Christ and both accept the absolute authority of the Word of GOD, they inevitably find themselves together and have a bond that is stronger than any other that could ever be made (Psalm 119:63 & 2 Timothy 2:22).
They do not take sectarian ground. What they so wonderfully enjoy together is freely available to all others also, “For … GOD our Saviour … will have all men to be saved and come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4). They practise an opened heart and door policy, of “come and see” to examine closely together GOD’s Word, and that GOD’s grace is a free gift available to all who will believe GOD and His Word.
These believers do not seek to change or save the world nor impose their faith upon others, but they do seek to have the Scriptural right to withdraw from the control of others, in order to follow the teaching of Scripture and walk in separation from evil.
The reality is that even if reduced to simply two or three gathered together in the Name of the Son of GOD our Lord Jesus Christ, He will be with and among us in all His glorious grace and power. GOD has stated His will and purpose in His Word, that although many — even most — are determined to go it alone without faith in GOD, He is still saving one by one all who receive Jesus Christ (John 1:12).
Many direct challenges to the authority of the Holy Scriptures of GOD, and the very words of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, are taking place world-wide and also throughout the Christian world — but believers are still joyfully cleaving to the Lord with purpose of heart.
Some feel today’s world of multi-pluralism, political correctness and deeply entrenched philosophies is now, too great, tough and formidable for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But you know it, and so do we, that all the more today we need give attendance to our calling to mission on! We are called to preach Christ Crucified. We are called to stay on message in the face of seeming impossible odds and obstructions!
Let us face the great changes of this day and rejoice in every change of mind that leads to a change of affection and that manifests itself in a change of life to GOD and of destiny. Join us in prayer at the Throne of Grace for China’s millions — and in fact for the millions here throughout all of Asia and the Far East.
John and Karen Short