I read an incredible story about a newly converted woman in China. She immediately began to share the good news of Jesus Christ with her friends and family. In doing so, she learned the secret police were looking for her. Non-government controlled religion is illegal in China. She knew there was no point in hiding and she would go to jail soon. She prepared herself by digging through the trash to find food. Why would she do that? Because the jails in China are not like here in the US, where the prisoners get “3 hots and a cot”, instead the prisoners get whatever they’re given, which is often leftovers. After a time, she was taken to prison for the crime of sharing her faith. There wasn’t enough room for her to be in a prison cell, so they put her in a broom closet and once a day would shove a handful of rice under the door for meals. Living in those conditions would be rough for anyone, but she never complained. Instead, she looked for ways to share the gospel from her broom closet.
What’s our first reaction when we get into a tough situation?
Mine is usually, “Get me out of here, God!” Or sometimes we hear each other share (or complain?), “What is God trying to teach me while I’m going through this?” We can get so busy looking at the situation we’re in that we won’t see what we can do for God while we’re there. Both of these responses are focused on “us” instead of God. “When am I getting out of this?”, “What am I getting out of this?” or “How am I getting out of this?” But we don’t ask ourselves, “Who can I reach while I’m here?”
Read this portion of Paul’s letter to the Philippians,
“Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”
Does this sound like someone who’s sitting in jail and always being threatened with death? “Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.” Wow! Paul’s not thinking of himself at all, is he? The Chinese woman in jail had the same mind too. She may have been thinking, “Since I’m going to jail, who can I reach for Jesus?” Believer’s often forgot (pretty much on a daily basis!) we were chosen for good works that God had prepared for us. And we go about our day looking for ways to bless or love others, but that line of thinking usually stops when things get uncomfortable.
So how can we change this?
The simple, yet not easy, solution is to remember we’re not here for us, we’re for God.
Jesus told his believer’s, “You are the light of the world” and we’re to shine bright for the one who gave us this light. This means we get to share Jesus when we’re at home on our computers, when we see the neighbor needs help with something, when we’re in jail and when we’re dying. God always has ways to work through us! We don’t have to be in a position of wealth and health to be used of God, we just have to be in a position of obedience.
I know what I’m saying seems impossible.
I’d much rather God use me while I feel comfortable. Hmm. How many times did I use myself as the main subject in that last sentence? Let’s rewrite that.
God, use me.
There. That’s better isn’t it?