Thursday, September 21, 2006

From the Ground Up

Jesus is a craftsman. He spent his entire adult life working with his hands at the carpenter's bench. And before his incarnation, he formed and shaped the universe. I think it's safe to say he knows a thing or two about building.

That's why his admonition in Matthew 7 is so important. To build a house on sand is to build in vain, but a house built on rock--on a firm foundation--will endure even when tested by wind and rain. In context, Jesus was talking about his words and their power to sustain us if we put them into practice.

In the American church today, figuratively speaking, there's a lot of coastal development going on, and if we don't reinforce our structures, the gusting hurricane winds of persecution could knock it all down.

Because persecution is always a threat in China, missionaries have realized that training new believers should be their foremost priority. They take the Great Commission in its full context, making disciples of all nations by teaching them to observe Jesus' commands. At least in my experience, they emphasize relationship with Jesus and how our obedience to him shows our love and respect for him. And they warn them that their belief in Jesus may cause trouble with the authorities.

But they don't stop here. Usually a new believer undergoes systematic training straight through the main stories of the Bible, from Adam and Eve to Jesus' return. In fact, because of the shortage of Bibles, evangelistic presentations often involve telling the story from creation to the resurrection of Christ.

In America, a person can become a "Christian" by completing the ABCs of faith, or by praying some words on the back of a tract. Examining these methods I've noticed that many "salvation" tracts and pamphlets don't even mention the resurrection. They talk about Jesus dying for the sins of the world and taking our death sentence, but they don't explain how he won the victory over the grave. You'd think a tract focusing on salvation would heed the words of Romans 10:9-10, that the believer must "confess with his mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in his heart that God has raised him from the dead" in order to be saved.

What it comes down to is that it doesn't cost much to be a believer in America. But the battle is more palpable in China, and those doing the training have their lives and work hinging partly upon the new believer's productivity.

Here at home, we must catch the urgency with which missionaries train new believers. Maybe we should start be retraining some people who've been taught--but not trained--for years. Maybe we should start with the kids in the nursery. Maybe, in some way (I don't care how!), we should start exporting fervent disciples rather than importing comfort-seeking pew-ploppers. Only then will our house will be built on the rock.

1 comment:

bkinney said...

i hear ya