1994) Jars of Clay

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“We Do Not Have To Be Perfect To Do God’s Will”

Ron Boyd-MacMillan, shares the following insight from his teaching, “Why I Need to Encounter the Persecuted Church,” at:  http://www.opendoorsusa.org

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     While living in Hong Kong, I used to make a point of having dinner with many of the Open Doors supporters worldwide that gave up some holiday time to courier Bibles into China.  Often in the course of their travels some of them would meet famous house church leaders and say, “To be truthful, I was a bit disappointed in meeting.”  They would add something like, “I thought these people would be remarkable saints, and of course they were, but they were also quite prejudiced, or rude, or had some other feature that I did not think worthy of a very spiritual leader.”  They assumed that the persecuted were “super-saints.”  But they are not. 

     It is a very unfortunate trend to idolize the persecuted.  We assume that if a Christian survives twenty years in a stinking prison cell they are in a completely different spiritual category from ourselves.  They are of course different in what they have experienced, but that does not necessarily make them more spiritual.  As J.C. Ryle once put it, “Even the best of men are still only men, even at their best.”  They often retain the blind spots and prejudices of their culture. 

     On one occasion I was taking a distinguished Bible teacher to meet a revival leader in Lanzhou, Gansu province.  This Chinese leader had seen over 50,000 people come to know the Lord through his ministry over a ten-year period, but to our amazement he taught that “you can only come to faith on a Sunday.”  He had been taught Christianity by his beloved grandmother, who believed the Lord would only listen to pleas for repentance on a Sunday.  We talked and argued about this, and eventually he threw us out shouting, “You just hate my Granny.”  I hear now, years later, that he has extended the “repentance period” to Saturday as well.  Yet he is still an extremely effective evangelist despite this chronic, man-made obstacle he has erected to the grace of God! 

     Surely the great point is this: flawed as some Chinese leaders were, they did the will of God mightily.  They labored in a country that has seen the number of Christians grow from less than one million in 1949 to over eighty millions today—the largest revival in the history of Christendom.  God didn’t stop pouring out his Spirit because his saints were imperfect.   

     If the persecuted teach us anything, it is that God will work through us even despite our prejudices, blind spots and eccentricities.  If we offer ourselves, we will be used… as we are. 

     We do not have to be perfect to do God’s will.  Otherwise, no one could.

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II Corinthians 12:9-10  —  (The Lord) said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I Corinthians 2:1b-5  —  When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.  For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.  I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling.  My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.

I Corinthians 1:26-31  —  Brothers, think of what you were when you were called.  Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.  But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.  It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.  Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

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Martin Luther’s prayer for his ministry:

O Lord, you see  how unworthy I am to fill so great and important an office.  Were it not for your counsel, I would have utterly failed in it long ago.  Therefore, I call upon you for guidance.  Gladly indeed will I give my heart and my voice to this service.  I want to teach the people.  I myself want constantly to seek and study your Word, and eagerly meditate upon it.  Use me as your instrument.  Only, dear Lord, do not forsake me; for if I am left alone, I will most certainly ruin everything.  Amen.