Summary: life will be challenging but the Holy Spirit will guide you
Here's something you don't hear often in evangelistic invitations:
God loves you and has a difficult plan for your life!
That's exactly what Jesus says. John 15:18-19 - If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.
Jesus' command to love one another is tempered with reality - harsh reality. Loving others is never going to be a walk in the park, "I never promised you a rose garden"
Hard times are not the same as punishment - though it can be. I'm not talking today about getting what you deserve. I understand it when I get lambasted for a good reason.
When I don't deserve it, that bugs me! That's exactly what Jesus promises us as followers.
Persecution can be a predictable thing. The Heavenly Man by Brother Yun from China
He tells about the Back to Jerusalem mission founded in 1921 by Jing Dianying
POP has a 4 word mission statement - They had a 5 word mission statement
Sacrifice, Abandonment, poverty, suffering, death
Let those words sink in, they don't appeal to Western churches. You wouldn't think of sending out a mass mailing to launch a new church with that slogan. Wouldn't do a five week series on it either. How many of you would put up with that type of mission. Would I?
Back to Jerusalem was a legend in China - the most persecuted of the persecuted church. At one meeting in 1995, Brother Yun noticed an ancient man weeping during his message. Especially when Yun sang the song "Lift your eyes to the West" part of an old Back to Jerusalem songbook.
The man was Simon Zhao (Jao) - an author of the song. The only survivor of an early group of leaders who 48 years earlier determined to bring the gospel all along the silk road back to Jerusalem.
Simon had only been married 4 months when they were arrested, his wife was pregnant. Soon his whole band of missionaries were arrested, sentenced to 45 years in hard labor. He never talked with his wife again, she died in prison. All of his coworkers died in prison. Every evening Simon faced the west towards Jerusalem and prayed for the success of those who were not imprisoned.
A few years ago, the Sinim Fellowship of house churches prayed about their involvement in Back to Jerusalem. They decided that is would be their mission, not one of their missions, but their entire mission. Every house church was committed to train up missionaries to send across the continent. The total number trained so far is 100,000. They will travel through the most unchurched nations imaginable, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma and India. They will penetrate the heart of the Buddhist and Hindu worlds.
Here is the specialized training each of the missionaries receive:
1. How to suffer and die for the Lord. We examine what the Bible says about suffering, and look at how the Lord's people have laid down their lives for the advance of the gospel though out history
2. How to witness for the Lord. We teach how to witness for the Lord under any circumstance, on trains, or busses, or even in the back of a police van on our way to the execution ground.
3. How to escape for the Lord. We know that sometimes if is the Lord who sends us to prison to witness for Him, but we also believe the devil sometimes wants us to go to prison to stop the ministry God has called us to do. We teach the missionaries special skill such as how to free themselves from handcuffs, and how to jump from a second story window without injuring themselves. Sacrifice, Abandonment, poverty, suffering, death
This is not your typical seminary or Bible college.
Our world demands special treatment for people who are connected. Know the right people, you get the good jobs. But since Jesus isn't taking the road of power, we're out of luck.
John 15:20-21 Remember the words I spoke to you: `No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me.
When did Jesus teach this - No servant is greater than his master"?
Jesus was doing the most radical and un-Rabbi like act imaginable
JN 13:12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. "Do you understand what I have done for you?" he asked them. 13 "You call me `Teacher' and `Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.