Non-Negotiables for Believers in China

The past few days have been full of stories – Chinese believers and foreign missionaries recounting for Steph and I what happened to the church last Sunday. We’ve heard from so many how faithfully both the leadership and the membership of the church responded. All I can say is that I am extremely proud to lead a church like that – disciples who worship when afraid. Please be in prayer on our Thursday morning, China’s Thursday evening – it will be the first service since the police bust (6 am EST).

I love the example of Daniel in responding to persecution. Look at the form of persecution that Daniel encountered in chapter six – it is a legal restriction on the exercise of his faith! With a threat of severe punishment by the government if the law is violated. Sounds a lot like China (but usually with a different degree of punishment), doesn’t it?

So the law is passed: no prayer to unauthorized gods. The penalty is death. And what does Daniel do? He goes into his house, opens his window toward Jerusalem and prays three times a day. Now, I used to read this and picture Daniel brazenly throwing open his windows and praying at the top of his lungs (with ‘Bad to the Bone’ playing in the background, of course), as if to say, ‘Here’s what I think of your law.’

That’s probably a faulty way to read the story though – there’s really no reason to think that this wasn’t a very private place to pray. He was in an upstairs room, and just because the windows were open, that doesn’t mean he was hanging out of them for all below to see and hear. In all probability, this was probably the kind of spot that Jesus would have prescribed for private prayer. Daniel was seen because he was spied upon by people who had expected him to break the law.

There’s a key phrase in verse 10 that lets us know why Daniel responded to the law in this way. The last phrase tells us that this is what he’d always done! This is Daniel’s habit. In other words, Daniel’s response to the new law is… well, nothing. He keeps on praying in his upstairs room.

Actually, we don’t know what else Daniel changed in his life. Were there other times that he used to pray in the day? It would seem, though, that these were his three main devotional times everyday, and he did not change them, even when under threat of death. You could say that daily prayer is a non-negotiable to Daniel – it is something he’ll die for.

What other ‘non-negotiables’ must there be in a Christian’s life? Things that we just can’t NOT do. Evangelism – sharing the Gospel with others. Worship – both individual and corporate. Bible teaching – in our homes and in the fellowship of local believers. What others? When we’re living in a country that threatens and seeks to legally restrict our faith, this is a vital question for us to consider.

On the opposite side of this, there are some ‘negotiables.’ Things we are not mandated to do, and are really just a particular manner of doing something we are commanded to do. For example, while evangelism is mandatory, passing out literature is not. Meeting together for worship is essential, doing so at a certain time of day is not. We can consider it as a method alongside others – weigh them in wisdom, then choose the most appropriate in our time and place.

Daniel does what he has to, and does not despair when it leads to suffering. Sometimes it is simply unavoidable. God plans for us to pass through times like that. We are not instructed to go looking for conflict (rather to ‘live peaceably with all men’), but we know that conflict will ultimately come to all those who do not budge on the non-negotiables. When the conflict does come, we cannot know whether or not God will spare us the impending suffering (Daniel could not be sure that he wasn’t going to become lion food that night), but we can know that we works glory for himself and for us through it.

Peter reminds us that we look to Jesus as our example in suffering. The only one who ever lived a life of complete wisdom and holiness – yet he suffered the pain and burden of sin on the cross. The Greatest Daniel in the darkest den of lions – for us. That’s what we trust in when the stone closes us into the darkness of our own lions’ den.

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3 Comments on “Non-Negotiables for Believers in China”

  1. Philip Bassham (@pbassham) August 10, 2011 at 9:35 pm #

    That was great, but that last paragraph was awesome.

    • Vengador August 12, 2011 at 7:23 pm #

      Thanks for your nice words, bro. The paragraph is only awesome as it’s about something awesome.


  1. Non-Negotiables for Believers in China | - August 13, 2011

    […] Christian Persecution News- Christian Bias SOURCE: – […]

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