As long as our motivation comes from a godly desire for peace and reconciliation, seeking clarity in relationships is worth the effort. Someone has to take the first step to initiate conversation. For those seeking to reflect God’s face in relationships, let’s be the ones doing the initiating.
By forcing the global church to be less reliant on the press or on social media, these surveillance measures could potentially encourage more meaningful engagement with Chinese believers. As E.F. Gregory points out, there is no substitute for personal relationships. Rather than trying to gather more information on the church in China, outside observers can deepen their existing friendships…
Understanding China's Changes
When I first visited China, someone gave me a very wise piece of advice. They told me everything I ever heard about China was probably true—of someone, somewhere! There are definitely overarching trends and tendencies throughout the country as a whole. But a whole swathe of people in one town may have experiences that are completely contradictory to the experience of others somewhere else.
Self-Control, Prayer, and Reflection
God calls us to exercise self-control and listen well. And while challenging to live out, relating to others in this way is not impossible! Many of those I interviewed in China… described this spiritual fruit growing in their lives and the difference it made relationally.
We are all members of the body of Christ. And while there are appropriate times to leave a particular ministry or church to find another, when the reason for leaving is related to conflict triggered by differences, please pause, and first consider taking biblical peacemaking steps.
In our conflict resolution conversations, conflict coaching, and mediation help, face is sometimes the elephant in the room—if never acknowledged and addressed, reconciliation is hindered. Let’s address the elephant in the room and develop a new God-centered orientation to face.
Those I interviewed in China… expressed repeatedly that holding tight to these unexamined views of themselves and their positions was a big hindrance in reconciling relationships. Yet, as their mindsets shifted, a door to potential reconciliation opened.