Tuesday, August 08, 2006

If the Son has set you free, you are free indeed

Here is a reminder of how thankful we should be to live in a country where we experience religious freedom, but also a sad example of what the "separation of church and state" or, more accurately, the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, was meant to avoid.

The story tells of the Chinese government destroying a nearly-finished Christian church and imprisoning Christians without filing charges of any kind. One woman is in the hospital with "broken chest bones after being beaten by riot police." Several people are still unaccounted for. China Aid Association says, "Some are young students that can not be found in either the detention or custody centers. According to reliable sources, some may have been beaten to death."

In his novel, Safely Home, Randy Alcorn writes about the persecution of the Church by the Chinese government. Alcorn tells the following story through the dialog between one of the main characters of the book, Ben Fielding, and a Chinese Christian named Li Yue.
While they sang another song, Li Yue put his lips to Ben's ear and whispered. "Many years ago Ni Tuosheng--Watchman Nee--was asked to speak at a gathering. He knew in the crowd there were many authorities wanting to arrest him as soon as he spoke about Yesu [Jesus] or church. When he stood, there was a glass of water by him. Suddenly he threw it down, then crushed it with his heel. But the more violently he crushed it, the more the glass spread. Everywhere he put his foot down, glass spread farther. Then he sat down. The unbelievers thought he had gone mad. But the believers understood it. It was a sermon without words. They did not arrest him--how can you arrest a man for preaching when he has said nothing?"
"But what did it mean?" [asked Ben.]
"In attempting to destroy the church, the government has spread it. Instead of holding the church safely in its hand, the state has lost control of it, for the church multiplies under Communism even as Israel multiplied under Pharaoh's tyranny. China's government is desperate to regain control over the church. But the more they stalk and stomp, the more they spread the church with their own heels. They lock men in prisons, and they take the gospel there. They send women to correction farms in the country, and they take the gospel there. The glass will not be controlled. It spreads everywhere. The same state that persecutes the church is an instrument in God's hands to make the church grow."
Stories like these magnify the tension between physical realities and spiritual realities. While the acts of the Chinese government are despicable, the result has been the spread of the gospel. Pray for the believers in China - that they would be able to persevere through any persecution, and that any such treatment would ultimately serve to spread the gospel and magnify the Glory of God through Jesus Christ and His death & resurrection.

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