Living and Working in this World: Dangerous Mission

Editor’s Note: This excerpt from a sermon on Daniel 6 was originally shared in January 2020, at the KL2020 Gospel Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, just as news of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan was beginning to dominate the media. In the midst of that uncertain time, this sermon calls Chinese believers to consider what it means to follow God in the midst of chaos and danger.

This excerpt has been condensed and edited for both clarity and length.


“Lay-offs” are a hot topic in these times. In their outstanding wisdom, many famous Chinese companies use beautiful language to describe their company’s lay-offs. Huawei, for example, says they will “eliminate mediocre employees.” KeDa Technologies will “optimize those who take early lunch.” The most impressive is Alibaba. They say, “We will export 1,000 employees with over ten years’ experience every year.” I am not sure if the reason for these descriptions is the vast depth of the Chinese language, or the creativity of corporate executives!

Work’s Importance and Danger

Work is important. In China, we see work as a tool to make a living. Some see it as a career through which they seek professional success. For Christians, our work is our mission; we work for a greater goal. This helps us recognize our careers are also a mission. Before COVID, some said the most dangerous profession in the world was being a lumberjack, others said it was digging up land mines. After the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, the list must change: medical workers now have the most dangerous work.

It is not just medical workers who are in danger – anyone who lives in Wuhan, lives in Hubei Province, or even within China is in danger. What is next? Perhaps one day we will leave earth on a space shuttle and find a different planet. When we disembark and introduce ourselves as coming from Earth, people from that planet will say, “Danger! Danger!”


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Working with dangerous people is even more dangerous than working at a dangerous job. I recently read a story of a man who was fixing a meat grinder when his colleague accidentally turned on the machine and ground him to death. If those you work with are incompetent, then you are in danger.

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“Your religion may turn an ordinary job into a dangerous one, and the people around you may suddenly become dangerous. This is a great challenge. How does one work and live in this world?

— Simon Liu

If you do not work in a dangerous profession or with dangerous co-workers, then the next most dangerous thing is being a religious person, especially within a company. Your religion may turn an ordinary job into a dangerous one, and the people around you may suddenly become dangerous. This is a great challenge. How does one work and live in this world?

Facing a Complicated World

Daniel 6 tells what happened to Daniel. He was an excellent employee, second-in-command in the empire. Being second-in-command is very dangerous. Throughout history, these individuals have a high death rate. Daniel led an extraordinary life: he was captured as a slave, and served under many generations of kings in many empires. Through it all, he stood firm. Today in China we might say Daniel served four general secretaries [Xi Jinping is the current general secretary], and through it all he kept his position on the standing committee [the top leadership, currently a group of seven]. Many were jealous of him. Although a lot of people wanted to bring him down, they were unable to do so.

Whether you are a regular person or a Christian, everyone wants to understand Daniel. Even non-Christians think the book contains a secret to success. Many people in China are studying Daniel; many heretical religions also teach about him. Yet when you study the Bible, it is clear God is talking about something else, because all power and position ultimately come from the Lord. As we live in this dangerous and complicated world, Daniel teaches us two things: why it is so dangerous to be a religious person at work in this world, and how to face this danger.

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“I have wanted to share this message for a long time. But life was good, there was no discussion of danger. How could talk of danger be applicable to those living a sweet life in China? But, through God’s mysterious provision, now everyone feels the danger.

— Simon Liu

I have wanted to share this message for a long time. But life was good, there was no discussion of danger. How could talk of danger be applicable to those living a sweet life in China? But, through God’s mysterious provision, now everyone feels the danger. Your own actions reflect this sense of danger – today, each of you is wearing a mask!

Darius sat on the throne of the empire: one king over three high officials and 120 satraps. Perhaps you have complained of China’s 9-9-6 schedule? [Many Chinese companies require employees to work from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week.] Daniel had no choice. He did not work 9-9-6; he worked 24/7. Within this brutal and cruel environment, he excelled.

But it is clear danger was coming, because Daniel 6:3 says “an excellent spirit was in him.” This sounds good – but his excellence meant disaster was waiting. The king wanted to set Daniel over the whole country, raising him above the group of three equal officials. This is when his danger appears. Someone else’s promotion is not good news. The high officials wanted to find grounds to destroy Daniel, so they decided to bring him down. Unfortunately for them, he was a capable employee and faithful worker. They could not find anything wrong with him. How could they frame him?

There is a Chinese saying which says, if you want to convict someone, you can always find a reason. If someone wants to frame you, there is no way to defend against this. These officials thus found a way to bring down Daniel: by finding fault with the laws of his God. They found a way to kill him with someone else’s sword; they used religion to convict him.

In China, pastors are never convicted on religious charges; instead, they may be charged with “espionage” or “subversion of state power.” Even as we talk about Daniel, authorities may think we are trying to subvert them.

Expect Persecution

In 2 Timothy, Paul describes the Christian life. Paul says he has gone through suffering and persecution, but God saved him through all this. Then he added something which ought to scare every Christian. He said, “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Persecution is not optional for those who are religious and work hard to be good in a sinful world; it is necessary.

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“Persecution is not optional for those who are religious and work hard to be good in a sinful world; it is necessary.

— Simon Liu

Jealousy is a common trait of those who do not believe in God. We live in an extremely jealous culture. We Chinese do not like to see others who are better than us. If someone else succeeds, we merely say, “Wait and see.”

In our educational system, we emphasize being the best. Everyone wants to be number one. That leads to one result: in this system, only the most beautiful, the wealthiest, the most powerful deserve to be human. If you are not the best, others do not see you as a human being.

In junior high, my school was wild, and we often fought. One day, my friends asked me to help them beat someone. After we cornered and beat him, I asked why we did that. My friend said, “No reason – because he is the best.”

We do not want others to be better than us. Those who are better than us deserve death – until one day, we become the best. People are cold toward each other. People are jealous, and hate one another. You can console yourself by saying that all this is because you are better than them.

You are persecuted not only because people are jealous of you, but you are also persecuted for your excellence. Finally, you may be persecuted because those in power love themselves too much.


Simon Liu is a church planter and works with church planting networks.

 

FOR PRAYER AND REFLECTION

Pray today that believers will view any persecution they may experience through a biblical lens.

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Further Reading

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The External Cross: A Pastoral Letter
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Qingdao: How to Pray
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Qingdao: Locals and Outsiders
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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

About Shenyang

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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About Qingdao

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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About Xiamen

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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About Chongqing

Chongqing is a city located in southwestern China and is a major economic center in the region. The city is known for its spicy cuisine, especially its hot pot dishes, and is also famous for the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric dam. Chongqing is also home to several historic sites, including the Dazu Rock Carvings, which are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

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About Nanjing

Nanjing is a city located in eastern China and is the capital of Jiangsu Province. It is one of China’s ancient capitals and has a rich cultural history, including the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, the Nanjing City Wall, and the Confucius Temple. Nanjing is also a modern city with a thriving economy and is home to several universities, including Nanjing University and Southeast University.

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About Changchun

Changchun is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Jilin Province. It is known for its rich cultural heritage and is home to several historical landmarks such as the Puppet Emperor’s Palace and the Jingyuetan National Forest Park. Changchun is also a hub for China’s automotive industry, with several major automobile manufacturers having their headquarters in the city.

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About Guangzhou

Guangzhou, also known as Canton, is a city located in southern China and is the capital of Guangdong Province. It is one of the country’s largest and most prosperous cities, serving as a major transportation and trading hub for the region. Guangzhou is renowned for its modern architecture, including the Canton Tower and the Guangzhou Opera House, as well as its Cantonese cuisine, which is famous for its variety and bold flavors. The city also has a rich history, with landmarks such as the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall, the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, and the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees. Additionally, Guangzhou hosts the annual Canton Fair, the largest trade fair in China.

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About Kunming

Kunming is a city located in southwest China and is the capital of Yunnan Province. Known as the “City of Eternal Spring” for its mild climate, Kunming is a popular tourist destination due to its natural beauty and cultural diversity. The city is home to several scenic spots, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Stone Forest, Dian Lake, and the Western Hills. Kunming is also famous for its unique cuisine, which features a mix of Han, Yi, and Bai ethnic flavors. The city has a rich cultural history, with ancient temples and shrines like the Yuantong Temple and the Golden Temple, and it’s also a hub for Yunnan’s ethnic minority cultures, such as the Yi and Bai peoples.

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About Shenzhen

Shenzhen is a city located in southeastern China and is one of the country’s fastest-growing metropolises. The city is renowned for its thriving tech industry, with companies such as Huawei, Tencent, and DJI having their headquarters in Shenzhen. The city also has a vibrant cultural scene, with numerous museums, art galleries, and parks. Shenzhen is also known for its modern architecture, such as the Ping An Finance Center and the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center. Despite its modernization, Shenzhen also has a rich history and cultural heritage, with landmarks such as the Dapeng Fortress and the Chiwan Tin Hau Temple.

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About Chengdu

Chengdu is a city located in the southwestern region of China, and the capital of Sichuan province. It has a population of over 18 million people, and it is famous for its spicy Sichuan cuisine, laid-back lifestyle, and its cute and cuddly residents – the giant pandas. Chengdu is home to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, where visitors can observe these adorable creatures in their natural habitat. The city also boasts a rich cultural heritage, with numerous temples, museums, and historical sites scattered throughout its boundaries. Chengdu is a city of contrasts, with ancient traditions coexisting alongside modern developments, making it an intriguing and fascinating destination for visitors to China. 

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About Beijing

Beijing is the capital city of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 21 million people. The city has a rich history that spans over 3,000 years, and it has served as the capital of various dynasties throughout China’s history. Beijing is home to some of the most iconic landmarks in China, including the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Temple of Heaven. The city is also a hub for political, cultural, and educational activities, with numerous universities and research institutions located within its boundaries. Beijing is renowned for its traditional architecture, rich cuisine, and vibrant cultural scene, making it a must-visit destination for travelers to China.

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About Shanghai

Shanghai is a vibrant and dynamic city located on the eastern coast of China. It is the largest city in China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 24 million people. Shanghai is a global financial hub and a major center for international trade, with a rich history and culture that spans over 1,000 years. The city is famous for its iconic skyline, which features towering skyscrapers such as the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Shanghai Tower. Shanghai is also home to a diverse culinary scene, world-class museums and art galleries, and numerous shopping districts. It is a city that is constantly evolving and reinventing itself, making it a fascinating destination for visitors from around the world.

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