Hudson Taylor moved to China from England in the 1800’s, to tell the Chinese people about Jesus. He endured incredible hardship and difficulty but in the end the China Inland Mission was created and over the course of the last couple centuries thousands upon thousands of Chinese have put their hope in Jesus.
What made Hudson Taylor tick? That is what this book, which is made up largely of his own writings, is all about.
A Burden for the Lost — Hudson believed with all his heart that the world needed Jesus. Without Jesus there could only be eternal condemnation. Over and over again this point comes up in his writings.
(Do I really believe that people are lost without Jesus?)
Prayer – Understanding God as father was a real truth for Hudson Taylor, therefore, he believed, he need only ask God for things and not men. Hudson put himself in incredibly challenging situation’s because of this perspective. Whether he was down to the last rice kernel in his cupboard or the last penny in his bank account, he simply left these concerns with God and waited patiently. He is quoted as saying “It’s God himself, not God plus a bank balance, in this truth I was freed from care and anxiety”
(Do I really trust God as my father?)
In Christ – Taylor had a major crisis of faith. His daughter died, then his wife, then a war started between England and China in the whole mess the Chinese accused him of stealing babies, and the English accused him of forcing the Chinese to convert at gunpoint. With money running out, grief running high, and danger ever present, Taylor began to crumble. However it was in this crucible that Taylor realized a most powerful truth: Christ was already in him, and he in Christ, the promise was sure, Christ would never leave. He had long been trying harder, working later, worrying more — all efforts to become more like Christ were his efforts when all along Christ was already in him. upon this realization tremendous victory came, and serenity like never before was the result through out the rest of his life. It was said of Taylor: “The serenity of the Lord Jesus concerning any matter was his most ideal and practical possession.”
(Am I still trying to impress Jesus by all my efforts)
God’s kingdom is first and we work together. Denominations were distinct in those days, and less even then today did they work together. However, Taylor was more then willing to set aside denominational differences to spread the gospel. He also was never mislead, like so many other missionaries of that era, into thinking that white english culture must be transported into the Chinese world at par with the gospel. There was no “to be a Christian is to be an english gentleman” thinking in his mind. He completely adopted Chinese culture, hair, and dress, and when addressing the value of indigenous ministry he said.
“The hope for China lies in them. I look on foreign missionaries as the scaffolding round a rising building; the sooner it can be dispensed with the better”
(Am I still full of unhealthy bias and foolish pride in my culture, my traditions, and my way )
Wrestling with priorities. The incredible cost of overseas missions in those days upon families remains a struggle for me to accept. When addressing the tragedy of having to leave behind seven children in England for yet another foray into inland China, Taylor’s second wife said the following:
“I feel so ashamed that the dear children should affect me more than millions here who are perishing — while we are sure of eternity together”
As I see it, these children were gifted by God to the Taylor’s and they should not have been abandoned for any reason. Granted they were cared for, looked after, and educated but nothing can replace the godly influence of mom and dad. Parenting and spreading the gospel in foreign lands are equally high callings because both are all about discipleship. One should never come at the expense of the other. Using the surety of eternity together as a justification for abandonment, is by any measurement, poor. It is also a flimsy assumption given that so many children have shipwrecked their spiritual lives as a direct result of parental vacancy.
(Am I functionally abandoning my children by the distractions of technology and business, am I absent though present?)
The Gospel means cross bearing. Taylor was a quiet man, but his quietness was not evidence a passivity. He truly rested in Christ, but his rest did not indicate laziness:
There is a needs be for us to give ourselves for the life of the world. An easy, non-self-denying life will never be one of power. Fruit-bearing involves cross-bearing. There are not two Christ’s — and easy-going one for easy-going Christians, and a suffering toiling one for exceptional believers. There is only one Christ. Are you willing to abide in Him and thus bear much fruit.
A riveting historical accounting of World War 2’s D-Day invasion. Ryan is careful to provide the reader with all the significant data of this fateful day. (How many dead, how many boats, what the tides were like, etc.) However, Ryan’s book becomes a classic in my estimation not for it’s rigorous accounting of information, rather it’s his masterful retelling of so many individual stories of battle and struggle. This feature made it impossible for me to put the book down. A paratrooper landing in the water, doomed to drown until a mysterious wind fills his shoot and bounces him along the water like a skipping stone to safety. A paratrooper playing dead as he hung from a bell tower in a small french town. A chance face to face meeting in the middle of the night between a German and an American, they both freeze, finally the German fires off a shot, it ricochets off the American’s gun and they both run off unhurt. All of the stories come by way of personal interviews and diligent research. Another of this books great assets is it’s diligent work to recount the German side of the story. If anyone is interested in this incredible day, it would be a great loss for them not to read this book.
“If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine.”
These are the words of either an egomaniac or the Messiah — this Jewish Carpenter is demanding that our love and allegiance to him be greater than our love for our own parents and our allegiance to our own children! No one should say such things. But yet Jesus says them unashamedly!Clearly Jesus has an incredibly high opinion of himself. Is this self glorying opinion warranted ? Well that’s the question isn’t it? If he is the perfect one, the Divine Savior of the world, then yes, our allegiance to him should surpass any human allegiances. If he’s just a guy with some good talk and a bag of magic tricks we would be idiots to follow him.
The Church was a mess in the 1400’s, corrupt, lazy, bloated with arrogance and drunk on power. Rumblings were inevitable. Had the Roman Catholic church listened and responded to the complaints history would have told a different story.
Erasmus was disenchanted, but he wanted peace more than anything. To him peace was best obtainable through theological ignorance:
“The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible”
That was the Catholic churches party line, its just that for Erasmus they needed to clean up their act a lot. This wasn’t good enough for Luther, he fired back at Erasmus:
“You with your peace-loving theology you don’t care about truth”
Luther won the debate and Europe was plunged into about 400 years of bloody religious conflict. Why? The answer is complicated, but the following points offer at least a partial answer:
- Religious upheaval was a prime opportunity for ambitious aristocrats and royals to accrue power. — There is nothing like a religious reason to motivate ones subjects to fight and conquer.
- The reformers were not proponents of individual religious liberty. Dissenting voices must still be crushed whether Reformer or Catholic.
- The accessibility of Scripture to the general public created dissenting voices on a massive scale.
- As the tyranny of the Catholic system was cast off, many marginalized people took this opportunity to cast off any and all authority. Rebellions were always met with brutality in that era.
- Belief is worth dying for. In this era nothing mattered more. But was belief worth killing for? Sadly, many answered that question (contrary to Jesus) in the affirmative.
If God had spoken, and if the human had somehow missed the message or clouded it beyond recognition as the reformers said, then it was necessary to go through this tumult. However, it is regrettable that so much blood had to be shed.
As a way to cope with our differences on the other side of the reformation we embraced individual religious liberty. We made faith a volunteer experience. The upside of this is we don’t battle each other any more. The downside is that confidence in the reality of God has been lost. The thinking goes as follows: If there are so many possibilities of belief, how can we know which one is actually real, we can’t. Therefore it’s all probably just made up stuff anyway. Doubt permeates our thinking, dogmatism must go and with it, in the long run, faith itself — Such seems to be the case in the West. As a matter of survival perhaps, it appears to me that Christianity is becoming more and more like Erasmus’s vision of it and less like Luther’s.
In the Biblical record of Jewish kings we see leader after leader succumbing to self absorption and then ruining all things good. Power invariably inflates our view of self, which results in human suffering. This isn’t just a localized problem that ancient Jewish kings experienced. This is every humans problem. It’s the story of human history! As I have read The History of the Medival World by Susan Wise Bauer this truth is the one constant.
What protections do I have against the corrupting nature of power?
1) Embrace A worldview that demands humility — I believe that I am one who is broken, in need of a Saviour, I am the recipient of mercy, grace, and forgiveness.
2) Embrace a lifestyle that seeks service as the greatest form of leadership – “I am amoung you as one who serves” says Jesus, this “be great by serving others” model of living is exactly what Jesus attempted to instill in his followers.
3) Embrace a worship that exalts what is truly glorious. For the Christian, God is the creator and redeemer, the one who truly helps us and the one who will ultimately restore all the broken things in our lives and in this world. This God alone is worthy of the greatest praise. To celebrate the goodness of God in all things is of tremendous assistance when wanting to avoid the all to natural tendency towards self inflation.
…And his disciples believed in him
The celebration was far from over but the wine barrels were empty. Jesus managed to fix the problem in ways that bend the laws of nature! Confidence began to grow in the hearts of Jesus’ friends. Maybe, just maybe, Jesus was the Messiah. If he can take care of a wine problem, maybe he can take care of all of our problems. At this point in the story, they didn’t even know what that would look like, they had no idea of exactly who Jesus was, only that a seed of hope had begun to root itself in this mysterious yet approachable person named Jesus. Belief is the slow process in which over time ones hopes are transferred. Helping someone cross over into belief requires patience, gentleness, kindness and above all relationship. These disciples didn’t understand fully who Jesus was until he rose from the dead 3.5 years later. In the course of that time, however, Jesus proved himself to be a true friend and he patiently journeyed with these friends into belief. Christians of today would do well to follow his example.
C.S. Lewis wrote this book for Christians. In this book he seems to want to take a break from his typical apologetics work, he says “A man can’t always be defending the truth; there must be a time to feed on it.” However, he fails in this endeavour. Whether Lewis tries or not he still manages to put a good word in for Christianity, It’s just who he his. In this case, he does so with some of the most difficult passages in the Bible.
Too Much Anger! The Psalms have a lot of anger, revenge, and “death to the enemy” kind of talk — which seems directly contrary to Jesus’ love for your enemy talk. Lewis points out that at least their anger shows that they took right and wrong seriously. Granted their indignation slipped into unhealthy vindictiveness at times. This admission, according to Lewis, doesn’t hurt the truth or reliability of Scripture. Rather it helps us to see how much God and his people should object to evil and it pinpoints with convicting accuracy our own indifference and dismissal of it as sickness, distraction, or poor choice.
Is God an egomaniac? We all despise the man who demands continued assurance of his own virtue, intelligence or delightfulness. Isn’t this exactly what the Psalms do in relation to God? Not according to Lewis. Lewis observes that men spontaneously praise whatever they value, and they spontaneously encourage others to join them in praising it. The Psalmists in telling everyone to praise God are doing exactly what all people do when they speak of what they care about.
Prophecy is silly. All of the passages that allegedly point to Jesus are suspect, because almost anything can be read into any book if you are determined enough. This point is granted, however, Lewis sees redemption’s grand narrative as a truth that exists in hints and echoes everywhere, he quotes Virgil and Plato. Certainly they didn’t know of Christ but yet they speak of him and his story in ways that transcend coincidence. It’s like the story of God is all around us, peeking out like flowers in spring time. Even the myths of Balder and Adonis resemble Christ. This is no accident any more than the resemblance between the sun and sun’s reflection in a pond is. The ancients all speak of the same thing they are sure of, but yet don’t fully know. The grand “ah hah” moment for all of them is realized in the coming of Christ. “yes, this must have been what I was talking about” is what they all would say, if given the chance.
What of inspiration? Muslims believe they have the direct word, handed down without human interaction, not so with Christians. The Christian Scriptures are more muddy. What does Lewis say of this? “The total result is not “the Word of God” in the sense that every passage, in itself, gives impeccable science or history. It carries the Word of God; and we (under grace, with attention to tradition and to interpreters wiser than ourselves, and with the use of such intelligence and learning as we may have) receive that word from it not by using it as an encyclopedia or an encyclical but by steeping our selves in its tone or temper and so learning it’s over all message.” Lewis’ description here hardly fit’s into a concise bullet point in a statement of faith. It messy, a tad unclear, perhaps even a bit unnerving — kind of like life.
If the Divine call does not make us better, it will make us very much worse. Of all bad men religious bad men are the worst.
We delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment.
Christians increasingly live on a spiritual island; new and rival ways of life surround it in all directions and their tides come further up the beach every time.