Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Church of the Chinese Wisteria Vine

My last few posts have had some sort of horticultural or weather theme. Why ruin a good thing?  Today I will do the same.  Many have tried to wipe out God's people over the years.  Even today, many counties execute, persecute, and abuse Christians in horrible ways.  In spite of that, Christianity never goes away and, most of the time, it gets even stronger. 
God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel, saying, "LORD, they have killed Your prophets and torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life"? But what does the divine response say to him? "I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal." Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace.  Romans 11:2-5 NKJV
In other words, God will always have a remnant and that remnant will always grow.  This reminds me of a plant.  More specifically, it reminds me of a Chinese Wisteria vine.  My father planted one of these vines years ago in front of his house.  Where he planted it, it really took over as these vines do.  This was also an area where I decided to build a garden.  So began the war between me and that Chinese Wisteria.  I was not victorious.

At first, I just cut it back hoping to keep in manageable.  The more I cut it back, the more if just moved in different directions. The more I cut it back, the more vigorous it seemed to grow.  It put up new shoots all over the place and grew out the old shoots I tried to cut back.  How true is this in the world's war against the church?  Many governments like to legalize parts of the church.  In some places, you can be a Christian as long as you are part of the official government Christian church with the official government church theology.  This happens in China.  The result is that the true church (like the roots of the Wisteria) has grown underground.  New shoots come up all over the country and the result of trying to control the work of God has only resulted in the church of God growing in new and unpredictable ways.  In other parts of the wold, it is controlled by making conversion or evangelizing illegal.  Again, this is an abysmal failure.  For every Christian martyred for the faith, the gospel goes forth even stronger than it has before.  You cut off one shoot and several shoots grow out, just as it happens when you prune a plant.  These leaders could take a lesson from gardeners, pruning does not kill, it only encourages branching. 

After I realized I could not control it, I decided that I had to kill it.  First I tried cutting it back to nothing.  Of course the root was still there and and it quickly began to grow back vigorously.  Then I decided to dig up as much root as I could find, chop to death a thick root that I could not get out, and hacking it back all over again.  Still, it grew back.  Then I decided to try poison. I purchased a special kind of poison designed specifically for vines that you paint right onto the vine.  And so I painted. I painted as much of that vine that I could find, all the way down to the roots.  At first I felt pretty good.  The vine began to shrivel and die and I thought that victory would be mine.  As effective as the poison was, it did not kill all of it and it still began to grow back.  I tried a reapplication of the poison but with the same results.  The only way to kill the vine is with complete and total eradication.  As long as there is a remnant, it will grow back.  And that is the point I am making about the Christian church.  God will always protect a remnant and that remnant will always grow back.  Not only will it grow back, but it will grow back strong.  God will not allow the entire church to be destroyed and He will use whoever He does not call home to glory (and even the martyrdom of those who were) to rebuild His church even stronger than it was before. 

You may think it odd that I am comparing the church to a pest plant.  However, from the perspective of the world, that is what we are.  We are pest that refuses to go away.  You chop us back, we grow wider and our roots run deeper.  You kill us, and whatever is left grows back larger than it was before.  If the world tries to control us, it will fail.  If the world tries to kill us, it will fail.  In fact, not only will the world fail but it will only result in making the church better than it was before.   Take heart in that.  We are part of the work of God and nothing in this world can stop us.  Though things at times seem bleak,  though it seems as through the world is marginalizing us more and more, and though the world may seem like it stands on the edge of victory, we are only waiting for our next spurt.  I pray for that, for that time of great revival when the church sprouts its new shoots all over the world and old dead-looking growth begins to grow once again.  What a glorious day that will be!
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? [Shall] tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter."  Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  Romans 8:35-37 NKJV

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