Last night I was thinking about a book I have read, The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken (very good), and the part I was thinking about was (true story) when he was in China speaking to oppressed Chinese Christians. When they heard about the prosperity of America, particularly how we have multiple Bibles per household while they might even rip a single Bible into sections so as to share it among more congregations, they were distraught and were asking why God loved American Christians more than He loved them.
I was also thinking about the parable in Luke 8:4-15 in which Jesus compared the world to a field that is sown with seed – the Bible being the seed. There were four kinds of ground: the road where the seed was trampled on and eaten by birds – which represented people who reject the Word of God; the stony ground where seeds sprouted plants but soon withered without roots – which represented people who like the sound of the Word of God but soon fall away when life gets hard or temptations come; the weedy ground where the seeds sprout plants but produce no fruit because of the choking weeds – which represented people who receive the Word of God but become overwhelmed by worldly matters and worries and pleasures and the deceitfulness of wealth; and finally the good soil where the seeds sprout plants and bear fruit and produce an even greater harvest than that which was sown – which represented people who receive the Word of God and hold fast to it and persevere as their lives are shaped by their faith.
As I thought about these things, I also thought about this season of politics, sickness, and conflict, and I thought how America’s soil is full of rocks and weeds which are being revealed more and more – even in my own heart. I wondered then what I would say to my brothers and sisters in China, and I think they would be surprised by my answer. Then I wrote this…
I have envied the one who sins greatly, for that one knows more truly the value of Jesus’s forgiveness.
I have envied the one who is impoverished, for that one knows more truly the fullness of Jesus’s provision.
I have envied the one who has suffered torture, for that one knows more truly the power of Jesus’s resurrection.
I have envied the one who is all alone, for that one knows more truly the riches of Jesus’s presence.
I have envied the one who hates, for that one knows more truly the passion of Jesus’s mercy.
I have envied the one who is crushed, for that one knows more truly the steadfastness of Jesus’s tender care.
I have envied the one who has died, for that one knows most truly of all the grace of Jesus’s love.