People are bustling in church, and Jesus is knocking outside. We like to speak beautifully and do pompousness, and when the circumstances are difficult and we cannot cover up our inner poverty through ministry, and you and I who are obsessed with language are asked to live, we panic. Which Lord do we follow? It turned out to be such a fluke, there is no wind and frost on the skin of the face, and there are no nail marks on the back of the hand. Do not seek the blueprint of life, do not seek the illumination of the whole process, but be faithful to Him every day.
In fact, there are so many myths in modern society! Every day, the media keeps telling us that maintaining a certain social order will make people safe; Only by establishing a certain system can the country have a future; With a certain commodity, talent is happy; By changing a certain attitude, people can break through themselves and achieve success. Can these promises make people more authentic to the world, more creative about their future, and more compassionate about our unfortunate people? Or can it only be used to satisfy human greed, heroism, and self-centeredness? Are they apotheizing the present system? Or completely deny the world and evade social responsibility?
In ordinary days, the longer a person stays in the church, the more difficult it is to realize that Jesus is the lord of the church, and he thinks that so and so is the master of the church. And in times of trial, it’s easy to think that earthly powers have the power to make the church live or die. But the book of Revelation forbids us to live defeatists, even when the crowd has bowed to Caesar, the hungry lion of the Colosseum is roaring, the sword of the Roman soldier has been unsheathed, and we need to relearn the “mystery of the golden lampstand”: it is not a person or force who owns the church, but Jesus who walks in the middle of the golden lampstand and holds the seven stars.
Get rid of your fascination with language When the environment is difficult, people naturally want more comfort and encouragement. Therefore, when trials come, people often have a passion for listening and preaching. But trials are rarely tests of whether we have the fervor to hear and preach, but rather whether we are serious about the Word we believe, even if our interests and lives are damaged. This seriousness cannot be expressed by listening to sermons or praises, and its challenge to Chinese believers is to let go of their fascination with high words and wisdom and put themselves into practice.
John begins by saying, “Blessed are those who read the prophecies of this book and those who hear and obey what is written therein” (Rev. 1:3). As if foreseeing that the Book of Revelation might be used by posterity as a talking point to satisfy curiosity and speculate about future events, John points out that prophecy is not just talking, but also carries a strong demand for earthly orientation and action.
The attachment to language and concepts is Chinese ethnic, and we believe that words and entities always have some metaphysical connection. Coupled with the increasingly rational tradition of Christianity since the Reformation, the mysteries experienced by the early church through worship, praise, prayer, and sacraments were slowly replaced by preaching and listening, and our emphasis on words and language has reached an unreasonable level.
As more and more literate intellectuals and urban middle classes enter the church, language has a certain redemptive function for middle-class believers, even to the point where it has replaced the urgency of physical practice and the necessity of obedience, and we think that by listening, understanding, dialecticalizing, and then acknowledging, we have fulfilled the requirements of revelation for man. For other things, it is enough to support others to do them, such as mission, where we give money and rarely think about the possibility of being missionaries ourselves.
The professional training of believers and preachers from this background accustomed him to understanding man and God from a logical and rational perspective. An orthodox spiritual religious language becomes their instrument of salvation—a new believer who can describe his spiritual experience inappropriate words is more easily accepted as a born-again saved person; If he did not have the proper language, he would attend make-up classes in catechumen, which often became an occasion for learning to use spiritual words.
To say the right word is to enter that realm, to fulfill that responsibility, to reach that state of life. The church also often doubts whether people who do not use traditional spiritual discourse are truly saved, and from time to time we see people rejecting an article on the grounds that “there is no mention of the cross, sin, and forgiveness.” Not mentioning is nothing, and in his mind, salvation is accomplished by words.
The hardest thing for intellectuals and middle-class believers to confront is James’s exhortation, “But walk the way, and do not deceive yourselves by listening to it alone” (James 1:22). Their educational qualifications and living standards are achieved by half their lives, comfort, safety, warmth and dignity. To truly implement the teachings of the Bible, many times it will disturb this small world and challenge its lifestyle, which is intolerable.
John’s situation is by no means easier than that of any contemporary oppressed believer, and his prospects are no brighter than anyone else’s. Christ or Caesar is no longer the subject of rational debate, but the choice of life and death; Faith ceases to be a proposition and becomes an extremely acute reality. Circumstances do not allow us to replace entities with words and the first level of obedience with a second level of responsibility. The days of peril are an opportunity for us to fulfill our spiritual words, and blessed are believers who do not use words as a medium of salvation.
With love, no matter how bitter it is, it is easy to survive When the weather is good, it is both possible and universal to be a so-so Christian, even to serve two masters at the same time. It’s completely different when the environment is urgent. You are so-so, the times do not allow you, and you yourself will find it boring. Why be a Christian in a name? Think about it, if you are just a nominal Mrs. Wang and have no real husband and wife relationship with Mr. Wang, how painful it would be! What about being a nominal rich man? Anything that is nominal is painful.
Ephesian believers suffer from a common spiritual symptom of replacing love for God with work and loving others with guardianship of God. This is the “Ephesus syndrome.” Their problem is not that there is no ministry, or that there is not enough work on the outside, but that the work inside is not good enough. The common mistake of Christianity is to cover up its problems with more external services, and when someone points out something inappropriate, it likes to use many theories to refute it, confuse the truth, and cover up the truth.
Jesus’ advice to the church in Ephesus is not to defend yourself, but to reflect on where the mind fell, repent immediately, and act immediately. On a practical level, no matter how hard the church tries, it may not be able to change the general climate outside the church, but if the church is willing to truly love God and love people, it can witness God and create people. With love, more difficult moments are easy to get through. The power of the testimony of love cannot be underestimated.
The more empty and unbearable a person’s heart is, the more he likes to cover up emptiness and loneliness with dense work and entertainment, as is the case with individuals and as well as in the church. If circumstances change and we do not have the conditions to carry out external ministry, how can we be sure that we are still disciples of Jesus?
Chinese believers like to read the biographies of saints, and the more tragic the saints’ suffering, the more we like and inspire. But we rarely wonder, will one day we also want this way of the cross? Fear and withdrawal are natural, but we cannot let natural reactions make decisions for us. In times of fear and withdrawal, listen to the Lord: I am the first, I am the last, let’s try to walk together. The Lord’s sovereignty over all of us is most real and precious in times of adversity, not embellished by casual talk on days of peace and happiness.
When we suffer for God, we often feel more reason to ask the Lord for salvation, and all we have in mind is God’s promise of salvation in the Old Testament. If things don’t go your way, it’s easy to get discouraged and give up. In Jesus’ letter to the church of Priesthood, we see that He only warns of greater trials ahead, but does not mean to reduce them. His answer to the suffering believer was, “Be faithful to death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Rev. 2:10).
Some leaders are accustomed to playing the role of messianic strongmen. If we insist that only large scenes that consume a lot of human and material resources are the only effective ministry of the church when conditions do not allow, the role of the Messianic strongman cannot find the stage. Believers who follow such leaders believe that without changing the social structure, all problems of suffering and injustice cannot be solved and that the most effective way to change society is to promote the adjustment of the power structure. But this is not the only reaction that faith communities can have, and we can stop treating those in power as targets of exhaustion, and instead serve those who lack support and have nowhere to run.
This is precisely the role of Jesus’ suffering servant. The church understood what it meant to be a “suffering servant,” and it had no more effective role in difficult times. Can we only make salt in a stable bottle, and not in a bland tasteless, and desperate state?
Where did you compromise and relax? There is a strange custom among modern Christians that they are afraid that they are too much like Christians, for fear that those who do not believe will dare not approach him. Does an unbeliever attract an unbeliever? What makes unbelievers from curiosity to believe is not a truth, but the outpouring of life temperament. People often like to quote Paul, “To whatever kind of man, be what kind of man,” but forget that Paul’s purpose in saying this phrase is to “save some people no matter what,” not out of man’s natural instinct to cover himself. So Paul likewise, “Come out of them and separate from them.” ”
In this day and age, when different streams merge and keep the Word in the name of the Lord, we cannot hope to please everyone. If we are in conflict with others for the sake of truth, ask God to tell us to stay the course. The more urgent the times, the easier it is for people to get confused and focus on the gains and losses in front of them. If we only compete for the day, the day and night of the troubled world is to become a king today and defeat tomorrow, and it is easy to disappoint people. At this time, everyone fought for his right to speak, saying that he was for justice. Christians are to learn to listen calmly and discern what is the clamor of the crowd and what is the demand of Christ, and the crowd will crucify the truth. Those who are leaders should not only curry favor with the masses, and those who are believers should not just follow the brigade.
To live in the here and now with a sense of history is to demand that you be able to account for everything you do every day before Christ’s seat; That is, when you see a little light, you trust Him to go on; We do not seek the blueprint of life, do not seek the illumination of the whole process, but only ask Him to make us forever faithful to Him, to every day, to every opportunity. Instead of stammering and not knowing how to explain to Christ, today is like living in front of the judgment seat, which is what I mean by a sense of history.
The believer is in the hands of God as the bow and arrow are in the hands of an archer. The bow and arrow are only in a state of reserve in the bow and quiver, and when the time comes, the archer will snap the arrow on the string, and the bow will be full, aiming at the target, just as God aimed at his goal with us. Do we know the goal? Most of the time it is not known, but He still pulls and makes us unbearable, we struggle and cry, and He seems to ignore it. When the time came, He shot us. Where are faith and patience needed when the wind is fine and the goal is accurate? In times of uncertain prospects and difficult lives, faith is needed like the believers of Thiathyla.
It is a fact that there are erroneous ideas in the church, both ancient and modern, and the church allows it to grow, but it has a unshirkable responsibility. Our problem is not that freedom is used to preach things that are untrue, and if this freedom is taken away, greater evil will emerge; Our problem is that too few people use his freedom to stand up and show Jesus what is right and what is wrong. We allow the teachings of Balaam, the Nigollahs, and Jezebel to pass unimpeded in the church.
The crisis facing the Church of Sadie is that this church, which has a good reputation before men, actually exists in name only, and nothing is complete before the Lord, and it does not know it. But “In Thadde, there are several of you who have not defiled their clothes, and they will walk with me in white, for they deserve it.” (Revelation 3:4) Deserving does not mean what they have done to earn salvation, but refers to believers who are excluded and suffer from their faith and whom the Lord considers worthy of walking with the Lord.
A life worthy of is a life that is before God and pleasing to God, not before man. Do not say that you do not know how to distinguish between what God means and what man means; Don’t use another question to escape the real problem. Know for yourself that you must compare with your inner voice with the opinions of others and the measure of pros and cons, and disturb your heart with skeptical voices and debating attitudes.
There is a joke that sounds absurd at first glance, but it goes deeper it speaks of the blood and tears of the church and even the personal depravity – a rich American businessman goes to see the Pope. They walked and talked in the garden, followed by the cardinal. The cardinal only heard the rich merchant say, “How about a million?” The Pope shook his head and said, “No.” “Five million, then!” Rich businessmen speak with hope. “Still can’t.” The Pope said stubbornly. The cardinal began to frown. “The last price, 10 million is fine!” The rich businessman looked anxious. The Pope still firmly replied: “Not really!” The rich merchant looked disappointed and left sadly.
Then the cardinal stepped forward: “Why are you so stubborn? Ten million we can do a lot of things, how many poor people can be helped? What exactly is he asking you to do? The Pope replied quietly: “He asked me to pray in front of the crowd in the future, and I would say last: pray in the name of Coca-Cola, Amen.” ”
Have you ever heard of churches and institutions doing degrading things to others in order to raise money? The phenomenon in Christian circles is often more absurd than this joke. There are always people who think that the church is his, and he can do it as he wants. Whenever we replace the ideal of Christ with the ideal of man and the standard of the Bible with the standard of the world, the church and institutions will inevitably fall into the state of existence in name only. When we can be alerted that we are in the hands of Christ, the One who observes subtlety and has abundant grace, we feel the severity of His grace and immediately turn around and come back to life.
Think back to yourself, where you went wrong, where you compromised and relaxed, these are only known to you. When you think back and know, you have to honestly repent, and this is how the road back takes the first step.
Listen, He is knocking outside the door One of the harsh realities of living in this generation is that principled people inevitably suffer. One of the most astonishing visions of Revelation is that it is the slain lamb who gets the throne. One day when believers appear before the throne of the Lamb to pay for their lives, the slain lamb will also be amazed, how can we live our lives with flesh and skin? Which Lord do we follow? Can it be such a “fluke”? How come there is no wind and frost on the skin and no nail marks on the back of the hand?
This does not mean that we Christians have to “find death” ourselves, but that we must have a life that will be born after death, a life that is no longer afraid of killing the body and cannot kill the soul, a life that is covered by the power of the resurrection so that the church can be established in the most unlikely places and change society.
The sin of the Laodicean church is not indifference, lack of spiritual heat, or indifference to Christ. From their boast that “there is no shortage of everything”, it can be seen that this church should be quite good in the eyes of people, and it is unlikely that it will be completely inactive in religion. Just like the problem of Laodicea is not that there is no water, but that the temperature of the water drops after the groundwater flows here, it can not be regarded as a healing hot spring, and because the cooling is not enough, there are too many impurities to drink, and their religious activities are useless. People were making noise in the church, but Jesus was knocking outside the door. The spiritual function of the Laodicean church has suffered from severe “atrophy.”
In the face of a radically changing society, what can people expect from the church to do for them? The church should have a passion for helpless people in society, just as Jesus had mercy on people when he saw them like sheep without shepherds. We must learn to ask the question: What would Jesus do if He came into our society and faced the same people? Will He reduce all problems to spiritual problems?
In the case of spiritual problems, are all spiritual problems gospel problems? Why didn’t the Lord Jesus solve the problem of juvenile officials with a gospel plan, and if he used the gospel plan to solve his problems, instead of forcing him to sell everything and give it to the poor, which is obviously not a typical gospel plan, wouldn’t we have a happy ending? Why didn’t He first criticize Zacchaeus for being greedy and harming others, as the crowd did, before accepting him?
He touches living people, and their problems become His problems. As a newborn king, he accepted all the problems of life that represented the old powers, and the way to fight them was not only the transmission of the gospel ideas, but practical solutions: the confused gave him heavenly guidance, the hungry gave him food, and the sick healed him. This is the passion he has in the face of those afflicted by the old forces, and the passion that will eventually cause him to suffer and be crucified. The newborn king never defended his rights in any way, and in his only “yes,” he intervened fully, confronted and overcame in the face of death and those tormented by the fear of death.
Seriously, what was the church at that time? In the face of the Roman Empire, they were just a group of small people with no power and no influence. If you ask, “What’s the use of this?” I asked, “Where is the mighty Roman Empire today?” “The weak church has become a community that history cannot ignore, and many people have tried to erase it, but none of them succeeded.
Jesus’ seven epistles to the church end with His own knocking at the door, and we should also listen quietly to His knocking, the door of our hearts, the door of the city in which we live, the door of our nation. Those inside the door can celebrate with complacency and great events so that they cannot hear knocks; People inside the door can also be depressed and self-pitying because of suffering, so they cannot hear knocking. Living in this age, it is our duty to listen to His voice and to believe that the knocker is the triumphant King, and whoever hears and opens the door will sit with Him on the throne.