Out of Blows, Knowledge Grows

Editor’s note: There is a Chinese proverb which says you cannot come to know another person without fighting with them; “out of blows, knowledge grows.” (In Chinese, this is “不打不相识,” or “Bu da, bu xiang shi.”) Tan Jian is a Chinese preacher who is well-accustomed to “blows” for the sake of Christ. In this short meditation, he writes about how his persecutions have allowed him to get to know the people who beat him. It has also given his persecutors an opportunity to get to know him, and to know the God of grace he worships. To Tan Jian, persecution is an opportunity to share his true self with a group of people who might not otherwise encounter God.


Knowing and Being Known By Our Persecutors

“To know” is a fascinating word – especially in the Bible. One of the most famous verses in Scripture says, “This is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”

“In the midst of persecution, we are able to get to know both God and ourselves more deeply. We also come to know and be known by the people who persecute us.”

If we were able to have a healthier and more positive attitude in the face of our current persecution, I think it would actually allow us to see persecution as a process of getting to know one another. In the midst of persecution, we are able to get to know both God and ourselves more deeply. We also come to know and be known by the people who persecute us.

We can group knowledge into three categories: knowledge of God, knowledge of people, and knowledge of things. We are most familiar with the knowledge of things. We humans are used to acting as the subject of the sentence: “I know something.” We ourselves are the subject; the thing we know is the object. As the subject, the person who acts, we can dominate the object we are trying to know. If a thing does not allow us to know them, we can break it apart, dissect it, and even crush it to force it to reveal its true colors.

But when it comes to knowledge of people, we need to let go of this attitude. Humans are equal; in a relationship, both people have the role of subject. Sometimes I am the subject, the one who knocks on the door, and the other person opens it. But it is so much better when the other person also takes action and acts as the subject. It is so good when the other person opens their home, welcomes me in, opens up and shares the testimony of their life so we can really get to know one another.

With knowledge of God, we need to be even more careful about our language. The structure of a sentence might make it seem that I am the subject, the one who does; for instance, “I want to know God.” But the truth and reality is that we as humans can never know God — unless he takes the initiative to reveal himself to us. Furthermore, the Bible says “no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

“I am really nothing more than a Christian, a sinner saved by grace. When they broke me open, they found my true self was different from what they had expected. Only then did they start to know something about me. ”

An Exchange of Blows May Lead to Friendship

Persecution occurs when a person tries to know another human being the same way they know things. One human assumes they are the subject, while the other person is just something to be acted upon and figured out. It is even worse when a human tries to know God in the same way, like the Lord is an object to be understood.

After beginning like this, a person might realize this attitude is irreverent. So, they take a step forward and move to a higher level. They attempt to know God and God’s people in the same way one human knows another. Yet in the end, this too falls short. Humans lack the ability to know or figure out God. Alone, they cannot understand the meaning of this Scripture truth: “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

Because they cannot know God or God’s people, officers arrested me and forced me to reveal my true self. They did this in the same way they might try to know a thing; they broke me apart and physically punished me. Yet I am really nothing more than a Christian, a sinner saved by grace. When they broke me open, they found my true self was different from what they had expected. Only then did they start to know something about me.

“Through their blows, the persecutors and the persecuted came to know one another. This is an important gain for both of us, as we continue to walk through persecution.”

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At this point, they had to rethink who they were and how they were behaving. They reacted exactly the way I predicted. Through their blows, the persecutors and the persecuted came to know one another. This is an important gain for both of us, as we continue to walk through persecution. This is what it means when we Chinese say: “Out of blows, knowledge grows!”


Tan Jian is a pseudonym for a house church pastor in northern China.

 

FOR PRAYER AND REFLECTION

Pray that the process of persecution will allow many Chinese persecutors the chance to know Christians and, most importantly, to know God.

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Further Reading

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Nanjing: Loving People Through Prayer
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Nanjing: Love Under Pressure
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Why Should I Love My Enemies?: Give Up Revenge, Love Enemies
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LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA

With rising pressure and persecution in China, there are two challenges imperative for church leaders. The first challenge is for current leaders to love Christ above all else, and not to stray into legalism or love of the world. The second challenge is to raise up the next generation of leaders, who will humbly model Jesus even if current leaders are arrested.

WILL YOU JOIN US IN PRAYING FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA? PRAY FOR:

  1. Current leaders to grow in their daily walks with Christ
  2. Current leaders to shepherd and raise up new leaders
  3. New leaders who love Christ and will model him to the world
  4. New leaders to love and care for the church

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ABOUT LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

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Shenyang is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Liaoning Province. It is known for its rich history and cultural heritage, including the Shenyang Imperial Palace, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Shenyang is also a hub for China’s heavy industry, with companies such as the China First Automobile Group and the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation having their headquarters in the city.

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Qingdao is a city located in eastern China and is famous for its beaches, beer, and seafood. The city is home to several landmarks, including the Zhanqiao Pier and the Badaguan Scenic Area. Qingdao is also a major port and has a thriving economy, with industries such as electronics, petrochemicals, and machinery.

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Xiamen is a city located in southeastern China and is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful coastal scenery, including Gulangyu Island, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city is also a hub for China’s high-tech industry, with companies such as Huawei and ZTE having research and development centers in Xiamen.

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