I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast my name… (Rev 2:13a)
It doesn’t matter where you find yourself in the world, misrepresentation and false teaching of the good news of Jesus will exist. As I write this we have just finished spending time in Vietnam meeting up with colleagues and local church leaders. A recurring theme in our discussions was the rise of pseudo Christian cults and the speed at which they spread in the country.
This is no new thing. It is the central concern of Jesus as he addresses the church in the city of Pergamum. Clearly they don’t live in an ideal situation. There is spiritual oppression and outright persecution taking place in the everyday lives of the local church. And in the midst of all this there is another challenge which seems nowhere near as dangerous, but in reality it is even more catastrophic.
We don’t have time to look at the details, but we get the point. Jesus and his rule and reign are being undermined by erroneous teaching. Does it not strike you that Jesus is so direct about this issue? Where we may be tempted to avoid, because we don’t not want to cause offence, Jesus holds a different perspective. Even though his people are facing intense challenges, he adds another one.
So why does he do it? It is in the place of persecution and spiritual oppression that the people of God need to have a clear vision of the character, glory, purity, grace and love of their God and saviour. Nothing else is going to sustain them and nothing else is going to save them at the end.
It is crucial that we remember that this struggle is real as we pray for our partners in East Asia. Maybe months and years of discipleship have taken place, only for the person or group of people we have served decide to reject the saviour. Ask that God would be kind and gracious in these times of confusion to our field workers. Not only that, ask that God would prevent the disease of false teaching from spreading through his church.
One final aspect to draw in is to pray for those with pastoral, teaching and leadership roles in the East Asian church. Our fellow believers with these positions of leadership have great responsibilities in some very challenging circumstances. Pray that leaders would remain clear on the authority of God’s word and that they will increasingly know how to apply it to the context they are in, by the power of the Spirit.