“I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:2-3).
Over the years we have come to understand that the Gospel is a simple, life-giving message that can transform whole communities, turning darkness to light and changing people bound by chains of sin into children of God. Often, however, a Christian’s faith can become cluttered the further they go in their walk with the Lord. Layers of human tradition can easily be added to the simple message that once gave us a “sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”
We hear from many believers whose lives have become bound up with the cares of this world. They are anxious about the moral direction of their nation, disillusioned and bitter with ungodly politicians, or vexed by all kinds of conspiracy theories and worries. Believers ought to step back and ask themselves some simple questions: Does dwelling on these things help you love Jesus Christ more? Do they produce a desire in you for holiness and a hunger for God’s Word? Do they give you a zeal to share the Gospel with the lost and a jealous desire for wellbeing of God’s people? If not, then those cares will take you away from a simple, abiding and loving faith in Jesus. Such things may be part of the “serpent’s cunning” referred to in the above Scripture.
KEEPING IT SIMPLE IN ASIA
When it comes to serving the Lord in missions, things can become complicated too. Recently a big Christian “think tank” contacted many mission organizations, including us, because they desired to clearly define what a ‘church’ is. We saw some of the responses from others. Their answers were so complicated it left us tied up in knots! Words were used that required a dictionary to find their meaning. When it came time for us to respond, we decided not to waste words. Instead, we simply sent them this picture.
To us, this picture is a perfect definition of church! These Indonesian believers have gathered together on a few connected boats to worship the Lord. Their faces are full of joy and light, and they clearly enjoy one another’s company. They don’t seem too anxious about pending economic doom or the moral demise of society. They just love Jesus and are thankful for the opportunity to meet together and to feed on God’s Word.
We should never look down on Christians in other parts of the world who may lack the resources our churches do. After all, which setting better resembles a church meeting in the Gospels: the casual gathering of these Indonesian fishermen, or the elaborate and costly buildings that saturate much of the Christian world?
We are determined to keep things simple in the work the Lord has called us to do. We have learned so much over the years from the sincere, child-like faith of countless brothers and sisters in Asia. They have much they could teach us in the ‘sophisticated’ Church.
As we continue to serve the Lord in Asia, we are constantly reminded that the greatest progress in the kingdom of God is often made through simple servants. In our experience the Gospel advances best and quickest in Asia through simple believers who sit down in teashops and factory dormitories throughout Asia to respectfully tell their friends what a difference Jesus has made in their lives.
This is how more than 100 million people became Christians in China in the past few generations, and tens of millions more are pressing into the kingdom throughout other parts of Asia. It has little to nothing to do with clever church-planting strategies or media evangelism. It has much to do with the power of simple believers sharing their stories with others who have not yet heard. Never underestimate the power of a testimony. It can blow Satan’s kingdom to pieces! The church will triumph over the devil “by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” (Revelation 12:11).
It is a great joy for us to be allowed to serve the Church in Asia, and to come alongside them (not controlling, leading or manipulating them) as they reach out to the lost. Many of those we serve have few possessions by the world’s standards, but they possess Jesus Christ and they desire to make Him known to as many people as possible. God loves such an attitude, and He empowers them to do great works and to bring multitudes into His kingdom.
Dear friends, we would like to encourage you in your own walk with God. By “walk with God” we mean exactly that. Our Heavenly Father desires the same thing from you that He did with Adam and Eve long ago. He longs to walk with you in the cool of the evening, as you share your affections and life with Him. If it has been a while since you opened your heart up to the Lord and just honestly shared your life and struggles with Him, please stop and do so now. Jesus said, “All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away” (John 6:37).
May we never lose the simplicity of faith and relationship with the Lord Jesus. We recently heard one preacher say that when he is asked why God decided to create people, he replies, “He had one Son already and He enjoyed that Son so much that he wanted a bigger family.”
It’s not too late for anyone to go back to the simplicity of a loving relationship. You may need to cut some things out of your life that are blocking the flow of His presence, such as ungodly influence or some human or church traditions, but our Heavenly Father is waiting to meet with you again and take a stroll with you in the cool of the evening.
Asia Harvest currently supports more than 1,000 Asian missionaries in over 600 unreached people groups through the Asian Workers' Fund. These servants of the Lord have committed their whole lives to the Gospel but are hindered by lack of finances. You can help share in the support these dedicated workers for $25 per month each. A prayer card and bi-annual updates are sent to all regular donors of this project. Click here to sponsor or learn more.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon