Year-End Prayers: “It’s Not My Glory”

it's not my glory.jpg

Editor’s note: This year, we have prayed for and with the church in China, with our prayers revolving around the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer over the course of this year. John Smed of Prayer Current believes that when we pray as the Lord directs, and as we witness our prayers answered, knowing they will be, “the aims, values, and goals of Christ’s kingdom enter the fabric and heart of our lives,” which then “increases our capacity for God and expands our heart for others.” At China Partnership, this has been our hope and prayer for 2020. As we end this series, we invite you to join with us in year-end prayers, remembering God’s faithfulness through all the unexpected 2020 has brought.

The pastor in this interview was born in and later became a Christian in a large and important Chinese city. Several years ago, his house church sent him to the United States to study theology and serve churches in the U.S. He served for several years as the church planting minister of a Chinese congregation for a Presbyterian church in a large northeastern city. Recently, he returned to his hometown and church in China to continue the next stage of his service

 

China Partnership: China Partnership invites American churches to pray for the churches in China. The theme [this] year is the Lord’s Prayer, and therefore I have some questions for you about the Lord’s Prayer. The prayer, “hallowed be your name” is also an issue of glory, because we as sinners often care less about God’s name [and more about] our own good reputation and our own glory. I see human pride in my own life and in American churches, which often damages our unity. Currently, within the churches in China, do you see such challenges or weakness? In your shepherding of brothers and sisters, or even in your own work, have you experiences such as this that you could share with us?

Wang: Every one of us in the church is a sinner; sinners will sin and will have weaknesses, which are all discussed in the Bible. The book of James says that if we see a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing, we would say: “You sit here in a good place.” If we see a man in shabby clothing, we say: “Sit down at my feet.” This is quite obvious in American churches, where we judge a person by his education, by his job, by the clothing he wears, and by the car he drives. The same sin exists in the churches in China, but with a different manifestation, which is: can you endure great suffering? Have you suffered greatly? Have you been imprisoned? Have you offered yourself as a minister? Are you humble? These people will be exalted. This reminds me of what Moses says in Leviticus: “You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great.”


Would You Pray With Us Today?

Sign up to receive our weekly prayer emails with requests for the house church in China

In the United States, churches lift up people’s high social status as their glory; in Chinese churches, we could hold people’s low social status outside the church as their glory within the church. This is something we should watch closely, as it is more subtle. When I began to serve in the church, everyone, inside or outside the church, including myself, would say, “Wow! You gave up your great job and great education in order to serve the church.” At the beginning, I congratulated myself and thought, “That’s right! I gave up so much.” But the Lord’s Prayer reminds us: no, it’s not my glory.

It is not our glory. We are to reflect God’s glory and ultimately give all glory to God. The last of the Five Solas is “glory to God alone.” This is a warning for us. As we continue to see the Father’s holiness, we see our own sins. And yes, indeed we face the problem you just mentioned all the time, which seems to suggest that the Reformation has not come to an end.

God will surely bless the lowly and the humble and give glory to them. How is that different from us giving glory to them in the church? Why is it right for God to give glory to them and wrong for the church to lift them up?

Martin Luther differentiated between the theology of the cross and the theology of glory. The glory given by God makes us reflections of his glory. It is not about how lowly we are or how rich we are, we live a godly life according to his law to reflect the glory of God. I think the temptation for the church lies in that we tend to judge whether a person deserves glory by their behavior, social status, or service, which leads us into the error of judgment by behavior and salvation by works.

CP: How have you led and taught your congregation to watch out for this issue and truly seek the glory of the Father?

Wang: This is really hard, as we constantly come back to the theology of our own glory, whether we lift up our social status or our godly life as our glory.

There are a few ways we can approach this problem. The first thing is to preach Christ Jesus alone. Paul says, “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” He did not just preach the cross as the content, but preached the cross in the way of the cross. One pastor said that, as ministers, the main thing we should do is to be one who repents openly. A pastor’s open repentance from the pulpit or at other occasions transforms people even more than our open preaching of the cross from the pulpit. Once I was openly apologizing to my congregation, or maybe I was openly repenting for my sin from the pulpit, and one newcomer to our church said: “I do not care whether what you just said was right or wrong, but I think you believe in what you just said.” That was the work of Jesus – he not only preached the gospel of the cross, but he himself is the gospel of the cross. The open repentance of the pastor and open, collective repentance at church gatherings and worship services are critical. We need to hear one another repenting before God, which is a special, special thing within the community. Through such things, the Holy Spirit shows us that we are sinners. The glory belongs to God alone, and it reminds us not to fix our eyes on our own or each other’s glory.

CP: What do you pray and hope for the churches in China? How would you summarize your prayer in one sentence?

Wang: I pray that the church in China will always return to the Scriptures, nonstop. In this day and age, only God’s Word will not change. We have grasped too many changeable things: environment, emotions, and our traditions. Only the Scriptures do not change. I pray that the church will return to the Scriptures every day, every hour, every moment; for preaching, for reflection, for meditation, for faith.

FOR REFLECTION:

This pastor believes that in American churches, believers find glory through social status, while in Chinese churches, it is an individual’s experience of suffering that brings them honor. How might these different types of glory-seeking lead to different problems within churches?

Share This Story

Further Reading

hangjia-xu-3ZdSvOSlm4c-unsplash
The External Cross: A Pastoral Letter
Read More
billow926-ND4-6joi3t8-unsplash
Qingdao: How to Pray
Read More
cajeo-zhang--Qkr9oCfcZo-unsplash
Qingdao: Locals and Outsiders
Read More

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

Videos

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.

Videos

Stories from Shenyang

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.

Videos

Stories from Qingdao

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.

Videos

Stories from Xiamen

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.

Videos

Stories from Chongqing

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.

Videos

Stories from Nanjing

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.

Videos

Stories from Changchun

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.

Videos

Stories from Guangzhou

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.

Videos

Stories from Kunming

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.

Videos

Stories from Shenzhen

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. 

Videos

Stories from Chengdu

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.

Videos

Stories from Beijing

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.

Videos

Stories from Shanghai

give

A short message about partnering with us.