But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
~ 2 Corinthians 4:7 (NIV)
Our Open Doors colleague, Ron Boyd-MacMillan, shares the following insight from his teaching, “Why I Need to Encounter the Persecuted Church.”
While living in Hong Kong, I used to make a point of having dinner with many of the Open Doors supporters worldwide that gave up some holiday time to courier Bibles into China. Often in the course of their travels some of them would meet famous house church leaders and say, “To be truthful, I was a bit disappointed in meeting.” They would add something like, “I thought these people would be remarkable saints, and of course they were, but they were also quite prejudiced, or rude, or had some other feature that I did not think worthy of a very spiritual leader.” They assumed that the persecuted were “super-saints.” But they are not.
It is a very unfortunate trend to idolize the persecuted. We assume that if a Christian survives twenty years in a stinking prison cell they are in a completely different spiritual category from ourselves. They are of course different in what they have experienced, but that does not necessarily make them more spiritual. As J.C. Ryle once put it, “Even the best of men are only men at the best.” They often retain the blind spots and prejudices of their culture.
On one occasion I was taking a distinguished Bible teacher to meet a revival leader in Lanzhou, Gansu province. This Chinese leader had seen over 50,000 people come to know the Lord through his ministry over a ten-year period, but to our amazement he taught that “you can only come to faith on a Sunday.” He had been taught Christianity by his beloved grandmother, who believed the Lord would only listen to pleas for repentance on a Sunday. We talked and argued about this, and eventually he threw us out shouting, “You just hate my Granny.” I hear now, years later, that he has extended the “repentance period” to Saturday as well. Yet he is still an extremely effective evangelist despite this chronic, man-made obstacle he has erected to the grace of God!
Surely the great point is this: flawed as some Chinese leaders were, they did the will of God mightily. They labored in a country that has seen the number of Christians grow from less than one million in 1949 to over eighty millions today—the largest revival in the history of Christendom. God didn’t stop pouring out his Spirit because his saints were imperfect.
If the persecuted teach us anything, it is that God will work through us even despite our prejudices, blind spots and eccentricities. If we offer ourselves, we will be used…as we are.
We do not have to be perfect to do God’s will. Otherwise, no one could.
RESPONSE: Today I will walk in faith thankful that I do not have to be perfect to do God’s will.
PRAYER: Thank You, Lord, that You can still use me with all my imperfections and blind spots.