Americans seem to hit the panic button when they see people in physical need, so they come with “things.”
EZ 17:24, “All the trees of the field will know that I am the LORD; I bring down the high tree, exalt the low tree, dry up the green tree, and make the dry tree flourish. I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will perform it.” I have found that I can learn a lot from listening. One day I was sitting in a Latvian sauna. Knowing that the Latvians had suffered under the Soviet occupation, what the man said shocked me. “I was in Russia, in a remote area, where the people had nothing, and I noticed that though in physical want, they were not in spiritual want. As I watched them, I began to wonder if we Latvians were not better off, spiritually, during the occupation than at present. I suppose that it depends on what you want out of life.” To me that was an amazing statement. I had never heard a Latvian–or anyone for that matter from the countries of occupation–say such a thing. However, it is something I have wondered. Does history bear out that great revivals take place in the midst of comfort or want? The Chinese church grew from fifty thousand to fifty million under persecution. Considering these facts, what would happen if we took a position that what Jesus was talking about when He said that we are to love our enemies, actually meant, without qualification, to love our enemies? I understand that loving an enemy is open for interpretation, and the boundaries of such a passage are quickly sought. However, for argument’s sake, what if Stalin would have taken over the whole world? What if he’d been allowed to kill every Christian, and, like the early Church under Roman persecution, Christians went to the lions? How long could evil reign without good to support it? How long would it have been before Jesus would have come? If every Christian loved his enemies (according to some interpretations of Scripture, “Father, forgive them,” and Matthew 26:53, “Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?”), and not used force against them, would He have already come? This discussion led to another. Americans seem to hit the panic button when they see people in physical need, so they come with “things.” An interesting observation was made that every country that America rebuilds becomes consumed with materialism (Japan, Germany, Korea, and Great Britain were given as examples). I could see the validity in the point. Pictures of people without food are given more weight in the American church than pictures of thousands bowing to Mecca. I have been guilty myself of telling stories of the incredible physical want in lieu of the horrific fact that hundreds of millions in India do not know Jesus. Maybe this is simply sauna talk. I understand that there are those committed to fighting evil, drawing the line against injustice, and seeing a Scriptural difference between war and loving an enemy. Some could also make a strong point that I have not witnessed my family being taken off by an evil force. All true, and they may be right. However, this fellow may be right and comfort a great evil wherein Christ is easily neglected and substituted. We feel that it is unthinkable to sit back and see our families murdered, and yet that is exactly what happened to the people in this place. The unthinkable has been done. It is not just a theory. Well, amen, it was an interesting talk and perspective.