Matthew 22:35-38 - A lawyer, asked Him a question to test Him. Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" And He said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment."
In my wanderings, I have seen many different artists' renditions of the Savior.
Sometimes He has been depicted as having straight long hair, and other times He has short wavy hair. He has been presented with brown eyes, hazel eyes, and blue eyes. He has had rough features like a prizefighter and been shown with a gentle face. He has sported a beard and been close-shaven.
Naturally, every honest artist will admit that his depiction of the Savior comes from his own imagination and special vision. According to the Chinese government, that may have to change -- at least just a little. You see, Christian villagers in Southeastern China have been told they need to take down their pictures of Jesus and replace them with the likeness of the Chinese president.
Now there are a number of reasons the Communist government is behaving that way.
1. In many places, Christianity has been growing by leaps and bounds. It is now estimated there are more believers than there are members of the Communist Party.
2. The Chinese government still equates Christianity with 19th-century imperialism. Political leaders want everything in China to have a Chinese flavor and be purged of Western thinking.
3. The national leaders of China take Jesus seriously when He said "Nobody can serve two masters." They are desperately afraid the people will consider the Savior to be of greater importance than the government.
For example, Qi Yan, who is in charge of his community's aid fund, has said, "Many poor households have plunged into poverty because of illness in the family. Some resorted to believing in Jesus to cure their illnesses. But we tried to tell them that getting ill is a physical thing and that the people who can really help them are the Communist Party and General Secretary Xi."
Qi Yan has said people are free to believe whatever they want, but if they expect to receive assistance, they will have to "take down (religious) posters in the center of the home. What we require is for them not to forget about the Party's kindness at the center of their living rooms. They still have the freedom to believe in religion, but in their minds they should (also) trust our Party."
A similar philosophy is being directed against Christian congregations that are being told their church can be closed or torn down if they don't remove their crosses from the exteriors of their buildings.
It would appear the rulers of China have decided it is not in their best interest to confront Christianity directly. Instead, they will be more subtle. All they ask of Jesus' followers is that they violate the commandment which Jesus said was the greatest. You remember, the First Commandment which says, "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me."
Now the ball is in the court of the Christians. How much can they render unto Caesar before they stop rendering unto the Lord? As they fight the fight and run the race, we do well to remember them in our prayers.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, first, I give thank that I live in a land of relative religious liberty. Next, I pray that You will send an extra measure of the Holy Spirit upon those who suffer physical, emotional, social, and financial persecution. Grant them the courage to be faithful to the always faithful Savior. In His Name I pray. Amen.
The above devotion was inspired by a number of sources, including one written by World Watch Monitor and was shown in Christian Headlines on Nov. 6, 2017. Those who wish to reference that article may do so at the following link, which was fully functional at the time this devotion https://www.worldwatchmonitor.org/coe/chinese-christians-told-believe-president-xi-not-religion/
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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