I forget about the persecuted church.
Yesterday at church, our pastor preached from Eph 5 about marriage in relation to union with Christ. One of his points was that marriage is about something beyond husband and wife. When two people are married, it reflects the glorious union that the believers have with their savior. The mystery of a marriage’s union is great, but Paul tells us that he is speaking “with reference to Christ and the church” (Eph 5:32). In light of our undeserved union with Christ, husbands should love their wives, and wives should respect their husbands (5:33). In this way, God is glorified in marriage.
After the sermon our music minister prayed. He began praying for a Chinese couple in an unreached people group. They are new believers, and he was praying for their fledgling faith. He then pleaded that God would let their marriage issue forth the glories of union with Christ to those around them.
As soon as he said those words, I was instantly convicted by my self-absorbed prayer life. I am so turned into myself. When I pray, I don’t think of the nations. When I learn truths about what marriage reflects, I think primarily about my life. I don’t think it’s wrong to think about how these truths affect my life, but most of the time it stops there. Though, these truths are explicitly for the entire body of Christ, I tend to only see the section that I am a part of. Instead of “missions-minded” I am most of the time “me-minded,” even in spiritual matters.
After church we had a fellowship where two missionaries from our church shared about their people and mission. Toward the end of their talk, one of them began to speak of how they came to be involved in our church. He said at one point, “You might remember us if you were here a few years ago when we first came here. We were the ones crying every Sunday.”
When he said this I instantly ran through a litany of the things that might have made them cry every week. Was it their kids crying? Was it because they were moved by the sermon? Was it because they missed their mission field? I was shaken up by the way he finished his statement. He said, “just to be able to worship with other believers.”
This man counted as precious something that I took so for granted. They go years without being able to worship with a large group of believers. I never go a week. They are on the battlefield, warring against depression, discouragement, and apathetic responses, in an isolated part of a country hostile to Christianity ; and I get fidgety when the announcements go too long. I’m missing something; Something that I now see I am impoverished without.
I learn much from my church. Yesterday, God taught me about prayer and worship. Our pastor taught me that marriage reflects our union with Christ. Our music minister taught me that God’s truth is for more than just myself. Our missionary friends taught me that fellowship with the body is a gift that should not be spurned, and that the persecuted church is my family.