When was the last time you read a book or heard a story that forced you to reflect on your own faith? A couple of days ago, I finished “Back to Jerusalem,” and let me tell you, the stories of faith and commitment of those Chinese house church members left me stunned and humbled — maybe even humiliated. It made me question my own journey—wondering if I could ever be as passionate and dynamic in my own life of faith. Maybe you’ve felt the same at some point.
It’s absolutely true that our faith journeys are as unique as our fingerprints. And it’s also true that we shouldn’t be comparing our spiritual journies to others. But what do we do when the “stuff” of our own journey looks so mind-bogglingly different than that of others in the world? One of the authors self-described the character of the Chinese House Church members this way, “We have become soldiers of steel, tempered in the furnace of affliction. We do not fear what people can do to us.“ (Back to Jerusalem, pg 143). About the Western church, they say, “Christian leaders should be super-carriers of a heavenly virus that only infects the dead—people who are dead to selfish ambitions and human acclaim, whose only desire is to live for God’s glory and see his kingdom prosper. Unfortunately, the Western church seems to contain a kind of religious anti-virus that seeks to smother and destroy vision-filled super-carriers of the gospel virus.” (Pg 154) What a staggering indictment! But I fear it’s true . . .
Friend, we stand on a precipice; behind us, what we can see is temporary, fleeting peace, comfort, and security. Ahead of us is what we can’t see — but what we say we believe: eternity and the reality of facing the results or outworking of each of our roles embodied in Jesus’ last words, “ . . . go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt 28:19-20)
I’m terrified that once we return to the States, I’ll settle into “life as usual,” which means that I continue in my soft-culture Christianity. I mentioned in my last post that I want to INVEST rather than SPEND the rest of my life. While I don’t relish the idea of living through the furnace of affliction, I DO want to become a soldier of steel. If that means affliction, then I’m still in, regardless of the cost. Will you please pray with me that the transition back to Huntington Beach living does not include “back to normal” — but as soldiers of steel, Sherry and I both will engage the enemy of our souls and live as God’s agents to bring life, real life, eternal life to those who will hear in whatever spheres of influence He places us? Thank you!