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Friday, 12 June 2015

The point of tension!

Yesterday, my wife and I drove down, via Manchester, to Maidstone, Kent, where we spent the night with dear friends prior to crossing the Channel (La Manche!) in the very early hours of tomorrow (Saturday), leaving at 0030!.

As we drove down through Scotland, and northern England, I was struck by the number of wind turbines that were standing there, in the calm, almost totally still, weather conditions, with not even a hint of movement from their massive, propellor-like, vanes.  I have always thought of these monstrosities as a blot on so much of the landscape, but now they were showing themselves to be absolutely useless.  They were not generating a single watt of electricity.  They were merely taking up space!

Of course, I am aware that, as the wind strength increases, then the vanes begin to turn, increasingly quickly (although, if the wind is too strong, then the turbines must be turned off, lest the vanes spin off and cause much damage!) and that they would, then, be generating power at a substantial rate.  However, with no force coming against them, they just stood there - achieving nothing!

I suddenly found myself thinking of so many "church members"in the affluent western church.  Looking important, as they make their way to their particular meeting-place each Sunday (or less often!), they are achieving nothing!  Their idea of the Christian faith is built upon social requirements, rather than upon a living relationship with the Creator, through the Son, in the strength of the Spirit.

Then I thought of those in what we refer to, simply, as "the persecuted church".  They know what it is to face up to challenge, to hardship, to adversity.  They have experienced, and continue to experience, the harsh wind of secular humanism blowing hard against them.  And the result?  They grow!  It is in such difficult circumstances that their trust in the Lord Jesus is purified - as gold in the refiner's furnace.

The last thing that I want, for myself or for those who are nearest and dearest to me, is the same kind of physical persecution that is suffered by my brothers and sisters, in Christ Jesus, in North Korea; in northern Nigeria; in Iraq; in Iran; in a total of more than fifty countries around the world.  However, such persecution could well come!  If it does, I predict two things - (a) there will be droves of people who will leave the church (whatever the denomination) as quickly as they possibly can.  They will be those who like to look good, and who are content to stand up in the calm, but who have no personal relationship with the Lord, and no true allegiance to Him; (b) the church will grow!  This is the experience in countries in which disciples of Jesus are persecuted.  As someone has said: "A faith worth dying for is a faith worth living"!

A minister with whom I worked, a long time ago, had a background in engineering.  He was constantly reminding me that "the point of tension is the point of growth."  I have never been absolutely sure what that means in engineering terms, but I do know that is has been shown to be true in terms of church growth.   If, and when, real persecution comes to "the west", I trust that those who follow this blog (and its writer!) will be found among those who are, if necessary, "faithful unto death". (Rev.2:10).

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