Persecution Equals Revival!
18 ‘”If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world—therefore the world hates you.” ~ John 15:18-19 (NRSVACE)
History is against those who persecute others, no matter the reason for the persecution, history almost always is in favor of the underdog. Case in point the Roman Empire; here we have a powerful nation that controlled vast lands and forced other nations to pay homage to them. The people of Rome worshiped many different gods and thought in their ignorance that Rome was blessed by those fake gods and would last forever. Many religions perished and or were assimilated into an ever-growing pool of fake beliefs and government controls which ultimately led to monumental corruption. “The decline of Rome dovetailed with the spread of Christianity, and some have argued that the rise of a new faith helped contribute to the empire’s fall.” Andrews, Evan (2014) 8 Reasons Why Rome Fell. In this Christianity was the underdog much like it is in China with many new converts to the religion being persecuted for their beliefs, killed, tortured, imprisoned, and the main symbol of Christ’s Church being taken or destroyed. Nothing new, for this, has been going on for centuries. You would think people would learn from history. But, our Lord Jesus Christ Himself told us why the world hates us, “believers” so, for the world first hated Him. See it works like this, being a Christian means you no longer belong to the world, a world filled with sin, a world filled with people trying to save themselves through their own deeds, and as hard as they try to earn their place in heaven the people of the world have fallen short of the glory of God. So like Satan, they are powerless to save themselves and despise those who believe in Christ and therefore are saved by His blood on the cross. The symbol of the cross that once was something to fear turned into a holy symbol by early Christians and therefore overcame the world yet again. Which is why the Chinese government during their raids takes this holiest and powerful of symbols from the churches they raid. Therefore, I say to you my brothers and sisters of China, stand strong and replace the many crosses stolen from your places of worship with yet another, and if that one is also taken from you, fashion another until finally, one becomes permanent in your church. Let the hatred flow off your backs and let Gods love convert millions more because you have suffered for our Lord and Savour. Like the Christians of Rome, let there be a revival that overtakes your country until the name of Jesus is said in every household of new believers and Christianity becomes the one religion the Government can’t control and must submit to. All of which is done by the power of peace and of love and by remembering those who have fallen in the name of Our Lord, Jesus Christ…. (Their Feast Day is July 9)
26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. 27 You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning.” ~John 15:26-27 (NRSVACE)
“Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession.” Bonhoeffer, Dietrich (1937) The Cost of Discipleship.
As implied, Bonhoeffer was one of many advocates sent by God to call out the many sins of the evil-doers. Bonhoeffer, as described by Yu Jie, who authored a post titled, “China’s Christian Future”, in a blog called First Things, wrote, “Chinese Christians also see in Bonhoeffer a man who dared wage war as an ant on an elephant. He found wisdom and courage in Jesus, knowing that Jesus exists for others, and those who follow him should do the same.” So on this point made by Yu Jie, I want to reflect most, for it is true that Jesus gives His people strength no matter their race, color, or social standing, for if you claim Jesus as your personal savior and then are baptised you are washed clean and are no longer a part of this sinful world. This is as true as being the underdog, “waging war as an ant on an elephant” because sin is so pervasive, so under the radar that it is hard to spot but when it raises it’s ugly head we believers can spot sin a mile away. So, in the spirit of Bonhoeffer, I tell you my brothers and sister of China believe in Jesus, belief in the salvation His blood purchased for all of mankind. For God loves everyone the same, He gave all of us the way back to Him so we all can sit together as one nation under God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Our creator if you let Him will give you the strength and the fortitude to move mountains, raise up the poor and down trotted, give life to the lifeless, and the wisdom to rule with love and dignity with a just hand. Remember, my brothers and sisters of China, those who kill over religion are seen as murders, therefore let your prayers and crosses be your weapons and God’s transformational power to convert those who are ignorant and do horrible things to you. Do not fall into “cheap grace” for it is morally bankrupt and evil. Instead, stand within the thousands of years of history of masters, saints, and prophets have walked, receiving God’s grace and His love will convert millions more to aid you in your cause.
The Power of God to Convert the Nonbelievers!
The Lord’s Grace to Paul
12 “I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service, 13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost.” ~ 1 Timothy 1:12-15 (NRSVACE)
Paul of Tarsus was the chief of sinners, he persecuted many early Christians, was a blasphemer, and an insolent opponent who hated Christ! But Jesus showed him mercy, converted him and pressed him into His Holy service. Jesus appeared to Paul in a way that was meant specifically to prove His divinity and His mercy. Jesus’s words were not filled with hate but yet love for a man who hated Him. Jesus’s grace was upon Paul of Tarsus in the same way His grace is upon you, my brothers and sisters of China. Paul testifies that he after his conversion had acted ignorantly within his unbelief and it was the power of Jesus’s love which opened his eyes for the first time. Paul also declares before everyone, most particularly early Christians who deemed Paul their enemy that, “15 The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost.” ~ 1 Timothy 1:15 (NRSVACE)
So the message is clear, God’s love extends to every human-beings on planet Earth and in His eyes, we are all His children. God forgives the murder, blasphemer, persecutor, and people of violence when their eyes are truly opened for the first time. Grace comes to the repentant heart, The baptized communion, the transformed sinner into a child of God. When this occurs there is a specific charge all Christians must live by; “We are not to conceal our faith and our belonging to Christ, not to bury the Word of the Gospel but to let it circulate in our life, in our relationships, in concrete situations, as a strength that galvanizes, purifies, and renews.” ~ Pope Francis, (2017), Embracing the Way of Jesus, pg. 5.
My brothers and sisters of China, embrace your new found beliefs and worship openly, be not afraid as through your worship you convert many, and allow God’s grace to galvanize your hearts allowing your faith in Christ circulate throughout your entire life and in every relationship and in every action you take. God walks with the faithful, he is your armor, shield, and protection. profess your beliefs and educate yourselves and others in the ways of Christ and your days shall be many. Remember the promise of God, the promise of everlasting life through His son, Jesus Christ.
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