This past weekend I was privileged to hear and be in the presence of Peter Xu, founder of one of the largest Chinese house church movements. His life and story sounds and feels like it could be fit right in the middle of the book of Acts. Imprisoned 5 times, tortured on many occasions, and sentenced to death – all the while maintaining the joy of the Lord.
This week I’m sharing some reflections on that time. Here is reflection # 3:
3) “The western church is in danger because she confuses her prosperity and bountiful resources as the blessing of God.”
I’m honestly not sure if Peter Xu was intentionally rebuking the American church when he was saying this, but it was indeed a rebuke. Hopefully it will be received.
This indictment is so accurate and true. Pastor Xu continued to say that part of the church’s struggle in the west is that it is so much like the world. Here’s a couple of areas I’ve observed his observation to be true:
1) A total lack of missional focus. We often lose sight that Jesus has called us to Make Disciples! (Matthew 28:16-20) We drift towards making our own “churches”. The greatest symptom of this is a lack of unity. When we are focused on making disciples for the Glory of God, unity abounds. When we are focused on building our own kingdoms and preference first cathedrals – dissension abounds.
2) Debt loads for our glorious ‘sanctuaries, rec centers and museums’. We’ve adopted a worldly consumer based Christianity that says the church exists to meet our needs/wants. If you simply read the New Testament without the bias of the American Christianity you’ve experienced you’ll see that God birthed the church to meet the greatest need of the world – to share the good news that Jesus died for the sins of all mankind. I’m not saying rec centers, beautiful sanctuaries and museums are evil or even bad. I’m just asking the hard question: With the number of unreached people in the world, can we justify millions and millions of dollars in church debt and personal debt for luxuries like these?
Maybe we’ve been blessed with prosperity to help spread the Gospel, meet the needs of the broken, clothe and feed the orphan and the widow. Maybe our blessing has nothing to do with our awesomeness, but rather it is a clue to the responsibility God has given us.