“It has come to my attention that one of you is planning to report us to the authorities.”
“It is one who comes here to the Lord’s Table with us…”
Those gathered that evening in one of the “underground” churches in China looked around at one another. Who could it be?
The church was not in favor with the government; in fact, the authorities considered the Christians to be an enemy of the “approved order.”
Those found to be affiliated with a Christian gathering would be persecuted in many ways: lost job and school opportunities, lost health care and even lost freedom (prison or “re-education” camps).
The pastor drew their attention back to the Scripture, prayer and the message for the week. As those gathered came forward to receive Communion, the pastor looked each one in the eye.
As he served the bread and cup, he said to them, “The body of Christ, broken for you. The blood of Christ, shed for you.”
As the one who would betray them to the authorities came forward, the pastor served him Communion, slowly saying to him, “The body of Christ, broken for you. The blood of Christ, shed for you.”
As the man turned to go back to his seat, the pastor quietly told him, “You do what you must, but know we will do likewise. We will not abandon Christ, for He will never abandon us.”
The man left immediately, not waiting for the usual closing prayer of blessing.
One of those gathered asked the pastor following worship, “Was it him? Is he the one who will betray us and cause us harm?”
“Yes, I believe it is so, my brother. We know that when we travel with Christ, many in the world consider that dangerous company. But I tell you something different. I tell you that to travel with those opposed to Christ is to travel in evil paths with the Devil. And that – that is the worst, most dangerous company imaginable.”
At the last meal he shared with His disciples, Jesus said this: “Make sure you get this right: Receiving someone I send is the same as receiving me, just as receiving me is the same as receiving the One who sent me.” After he said these things, Jesus became visibly upset, and then he told them why. “One of you is going to betray me.”
It was not easy for those Chinese Christians. They had to change their meeting place and time. Several were questioned by government authorities and encouraged not to keep such “dangerous company.”
One family was sent to a “re-education” (hard labor) camp. In the face of these consequences, this family, and many others, chose the temporary, worldly “dangerous company” of the camps over the permanent, truly dangerous company of those who denied Christ.
Most of us cannot imagine what it would really be like to be part of this kind of church, but some of us may have experienced difficult consequences of following Christ in our personal and/or business relationships.
Sometimes, we may have thought it would be easier, and perhaps more profitable business-wise, not to be His disciples. Perhaps we’ve even hidden our discipleship in order to achieve more worldly successes.
If the pastor of the “underground” church were to talk with you in a time when you were tempted to hide your discipleship to Christ, what do you think he would say?
How will you deal with the times you are tempted to hide your discipleship to Christ?