1829- A CHINESE LAWYER AND LIVING STONES
I want to try and teach a couple of things from the letter of 1st Peter [in the New Testament] - but 1st a few comments.
Today the big story is the Chinese dissident- Chen Guangcheng.
Chen is a blind lawyer who has been under house arrest for years by the govt.
His main fight against the repressive communist state is their 1 child policy.
In China- because of the population growth- if a woman gets pregnant more than once- they force the woman to have an abortion.
This practice has not only killed many innocent kids- but also causes the parents to voluntarily abort the first child if it’s a girl.
Many of the families prefer a boy if they can only have 1 child- so the moms often abort the first [or 2nd- or 3rd] if it’s a girl.
So anyway- Chen miraculously escaped house arrest and made it to ‘safety’ to the U.S. embassy in China.
Here’s where there is some contradiction.
After a couple of days hiding out in the embassy- he left of his own ‘free will’ and the U.S. escorted him to a hospital [he suffered some inures during his escape].
Then we left him there- and he came under further persecution by the govt.
He called for help- and begged the U.S. to take him and his wife and family to the U.S.
Now- Hillary Clinton just happens to be there for talks this week- and she played down the case at first- and Chen says the U.S. rep’s told him if he didn’t leave the embassy that the Chinese officials would harm his wife.
Now- both sides agree that the threat was made [Chen and the U.S.] but we are denying that we related the threat to Chen.
Either way- the man left the protection of the embassy because of fear for his family- and he is now in danger.
This incident has now overshadowed the original reason for Clinton’s visit- and all the hype this week over the Bin Laden death anniversary.
Actually- it did look bad- as I was flipping the news channels- I saw the re-run of the NBC ‘coverage’ [more like an hour long free campaign ad].
They just did a special on the lead up to the death of Bin Laden- and it showed play for play coverage of the president and his team- I mean I do give the president credit for the death of Bin Laden- but they do seem to be overplaying the hand a bit much.
Even some of the elite Special Forces guys are complaining about his politicizing of the event.
So as I’m seeing clips about ‘we made the call [to kill him] it was a risk- but that’s what the job of president is- taking risks’ on and on- talking about how much of a risk it was for Obama to make ‘the call’.
And then on the next channel- we seem to be throwing this heroic Chinese dissident under the bus- and it seems like ‘the risk’ of actually saving the guy and his family- against the will of China [our bank] who does not want the U.S. to interfere- might be too much.
It is sad- I don’t want to politicize the thing- but for the media campaign to be harping on how much of a risk it was for the president to ‘make the call’- and at the very same moment- we have a crisis that needs him to ‘make a call’ it’s a bit much.
Okay- this morning I read a little from the letter of Peter.
In chapter 2 Peter uses the imagery of Jesus- and of us- as being stones- spiritual stones in a ‘living temple’ who offer up spiritual sacrifices to God thru Christ.
I always liked this imagery- the apostle Paul also uses it in his writings [Ephesians].
Peter says Jesus was a tested corner stone- a tried stone- rejected of men- but approved by God.
We too- as living stones- will be tested and tried- and yes- rejected by men.
This is part of the process.
He will later say ‘don’t think it a strange thing- the fiery trial you are going thru- it is not only given to us to believe on Jesus- but to also suffer for him’.
This is one of the main themes you see run thru out the New Testament.
Peter even says ‘if any man suffers as a Christian [by the way- this term is only used 3 times in the New Testament] let him glorify God’
Yes- suffering and difficulty are part of the package- and the apostle tells us not to ‘think it strange’.
There are so many well meaning believers in our day who have been taught that suffering- hard times- lack of wealth- that all these things only happen to people who don’t have faith- who haven’t yet learned how to ‘claim their covenant rights’.
Now- while most of these teachers mean well- they leave out the other side of the coin.
And if you only hear the ‘happy’ side- then when the tough stuff hits- you ‘think it strange’ you say ‘geez- I guess I’m just not as good as so and so- after all- why would I be suffering’.
So Peter warns us to be aware that the trying of our faith is an important aspect of the Christian life- and there are times when believers are called upon to share in this Cross experience.
In chapter 2 Peter says that Jesus was a tested stone- one that went thru the process of being chipped and honed and shaped into the vessel that God wanted.
Part of the shaping was the rejection process.
God uses ‘tested’ stones in his temples.
In the Old Testament- when they were building the temple- the bible says they prepared the stones away from the building site- so there would be no noise of the hammers chipping away at the temple site itself.
But after the stone was ready- it would be brought to the site and placed into the building.
Often times God allows us to have ‘down time’ a place of being prepared- getting chipped away at- but when he thinks the stone is ready- it is then brought to the site and put into the building.
The apostle John- in the book of Revelation says ‘I John saw the holy city- the New Jerusalem- coming down from God out of heaven- and there was no temple in it’.
John was describing the new kingdom community [the church] that would be absent ‘the temple’ [the old system of law and temple] and would be a new people- a living temple- a kingdom of priests and kings.
These new people would offer up spiritual sacrifices to God- no longer the animal sacrifices of the law- and this would please God.
Yes- we are the people of God- kings and priests unto God.
John also says this in Revelation.
‘thou art worthy to open the book and to loose the seals thereof- for you were slain and have redeemed us to God by your blood out of every nation tribe and tongue- and have made us KINGS AND PRIESTS unto God- and we shall reign on the earth’.
Yes- kings and priests- a new community- a living spiritual temple.
All wonderful things- but the only stones that make it into this temple are tried stones- rejected stones- stones that got ‘chipped’ at for a long period of time.
Yeah- these are the precious stones.
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