Dear Praying Friends:
In the last letter, I said that foreign Christians are still needed in Greater China to communicate the gospel to those who have never heard. Long-term, sustainable positions as serious students of Chinese language and culture or as teachers of English and other subjects provide excellent opportunities.
Now let us consider what foreigners might be able to contribute to the edification – that is, growth in Christian maturity – of Chinese believers. Paul teaches us that the Body of Christ grows when individual believers speak the truth in love. He later says that when each member does its part, the entire organism is built up in love. (Ephesians 4:15-16)
Foreigners can benefit their Chinese Christian friends by living lives of love.
Ways of Loving
Love for God
Jesus taught that the Greatest Commandment is to love God with our entire being. When Chinese Christians see that their Western friends hunger for God and his Word, spending hours reading, meditating upon, and memorizing Scripture and responding to God in prayer, they will know what is most important to us.
If we are clearly content with God’s management of our lives, confident that he will take care of us, and willing to obey him regardless of the cost, others will sense that we are centered upon the Savior.
Chinese are used to people saying one thing and doing another. If we demonstrate integrity and consistency, they will take notice. Honesty, sexual purity, marital faithfulness, and simple living will speak more loudly than a thousand sermons.
Love for each other
The Second Commandment is that we love others as we love ourselves. Jesus sharpened that further when he called his disciples to love each other as he had loved them, laying down his life for his friends.
Courtesy, kindness, and mutual forbearance among foreign Christians will show what this kind of love looks like in daily life. Speaking well of others with whom we disagree and expressing generous appreciation for each other will stand in sharp contrast to the ways of the world.
In particular, in an age when marriages are breaking down everywhere, Christian couples can manifest the love of Christ. Gentle, loving leadership by husbands, and humble, respectful submission by wives will manifest the sacrificial love of Christ in tangible ways that evoke a hunger for that kind of married life.
If in our homes they observe parents spending time with their children and bringing them up in the ways of the Lord with firmness and fairness, they will be attracted to the Christian life. Fathers, especially, can set a counter-cultural example here.
The Parable of the Good Samaritan reminds us that our “neighbor” could be someone from a different race or culture. Just as God’s love is expansive and generous, so ours must be among the Chinese whom we encounter, including fellow believers.
One powerful way to demonstrate God’s love is simply to listen. Most people are lonely and feel isolated; few people have time to listen. If we show that we are eager to hear what people have to say, without immediately offering advice, hearts will quickly open up to us. (We must keep secrets in confidence, of course.)
We can augment aural listening by learning as much as much as we can about Chinese history, culture and society. Such knowledge will enable us to understand the context of what individuals tell us.
China: Ancient Culture, Modern Society, by Peter X.M. Yu and G. Wright Doyle, offers a brief introduction to both traditional Chinese culture and contemporary conditions. Helpful articles, book reviews, interviews, and news reports can be found at globalchinacenter.org, reachingchineseworldwide.org, and chinasource.org.
Living among our Chinese Christian friends will bind us to them, and them to us, in love. As we share in their all-important meals, join them in healthy recreation, travel together, and simply “hang out” together, they will see that we really like them, respect them, and enjoy them. Trust will be built, friendships begun, and seeds of mutual love planted that will bear lasting fruit.
Listening, and living among Chinese Christians, will naturally prompt us to pray for them. The beauty of their lives will evoke thanks and praise to God for what he is doing in them. Their trials and troubles will send us to our knees in earnest supplication. When they fail, we will be reminded of our own sins and shortcomings, and cry out for God to forgive and transform both them and ourselves.
Can anyone doubt that the coming of such “friends from afar” (Confucius, Analects, 1:1) will bring joy to our fellow believers in Greater China and contribute to their growth in the knowledge of God’s love?
(For more on how to contribute to the maturity of Chinese Christians, see G. Wright Doyle, Reaching Chinese Worldwide. http://www.amazon.com/Reaching-Chinese-Worldwide-Wright-Doyle/dp/1611530679)
Yours in His love,