Baking Bread

When I was living in my husband’s rural home in China, I was amazed at how much they could do in the kitchen with so few tools! Pretty much everything was done with either chopsticks, a wok, a knife, or a stirring utensil. Need to whisk eggs? Chopsticks. Need to peel potatoes? A knife…but wow, they got a lot done, and made some amazing food! In our Western kitchens, we have a gadget for everything! Apple corer, cheese slicer, whisk, cake mixer, electric beater, dishwasher, egg slicer, 100 different sized measuring cups and spoons… so convenient.

Sometimes I wonder if this has crept into our Western “Churchianity” (to quote Ben Taylor). We now have fancy sound sets, lighting, buildings, a course for everything (can’t be a proper Christian without the ____ Course!), and lots of teaching videos, spotify playlists, and media which, well… let’s be honest, some of us may have become a bit dependent on. I guess there’s nothing wrong with these in and of themselves, but have we forgotten the simple things of reading the Word, prayerful meditation, and simply obeying Jesus, no matter the cost? Without the fancy sound equipment, polished worship, big buildings, and church programs to tick the boxes and give us all the right feel-goods, do we still know how to hear from God, seek His will, and be obedient to what He tells us to do? 

I love this quote from Brother Yun, a man greatly used by God in times of revival and the persecuted underground Church in China:

“When I’m in the West I see all the mighty church buildings and all the expensive equipment, plush carpets and state-of-the-art sound systems. I can assure the Western church with absolute certainty that you don’t need any more church buildings. Just because you have a church building does not necessarily mean Jesus is with you. He is not welcome in many churches today […] God’s Word is missing. Sure there are many preachers and thousands of tapes and videos of Bible teaching, but so little contains the sharp truth of God’s Word. Not only is knowledge of God’s Word missing, but obedience to that Word.

When revival came to believers in China, the result was thousands of evangelists being sent out to all corners of the nation, carrying fire from the altar of God with them. When God moves in the West, it seems you want to stop and enjoy His presence and blessings too long, and build an altar to your experiences.”

― Brother Yun, The Heavenly Man

This was the great commission Jesus sent us on: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20).

Quite simple really. Not easy or convenient, but not complicated, and certainly not fancy. And He didn’t leave us on our own to do it, in our own way. He said He would be with us, and He is! 

The early Christians, empowered by the Spirit, saw amazing things happen. Each one of them took their place in the Church (not the building, the body of Christ), and learned to walk in obedience to Jesus, meeting together regularly, serving and learning from one another.  It was pretty simple. Not easy, but simple. Simple tools, simple “skills”. Similar things are happening in places all over the world, but not much of it seems to be happening in the West. As we examine these movements of the Spirit (in Iran, Africa, Thailand, China, India, Indonesia, and many, many more) we see that it’s much like what was happening in the times of the early Christians in the Book of Acts. The believers are passionate about Jesus, obedient to the Word, filled with the Spirit, fulfilling the great commission, and not distracted by fancy stuff!

I love this passage from the bible, and the quote after it from Brother Yun:

1 Kings 19: 11-12: “Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire, a still small voice…”

“So many Christians seem impossibly distracted from hearing God’s voice. Instead of listening to that still, small voice that brings true peace and joy, they blindly follow the voices of mainstream religion.”
― Brother Yun, Living Water

So interesting… how easily distracted we are by all the loud and fancy tools of “mainstream religion”, or what I now like to call, Churchianity (thanks Ben Taylor!). But in it all, a lot of us have forgotten the simple things that Jesus asked us to do. Not all, but a lot.

Going back to the kitchen analogy, if the great commission was something like being asked to simply bake bread to feed the hungry, and we’re always spending time in a fancy kitchen full of tools that can make cheesecakes, creme brulee, and black forest gateau, how easy it would be to get distracted from the simple task of baking bread.

How many fancy tools do we really need in the kitchen? The rural Chinese would probably answer that… “none”! Why? Because they have skills. How did they get the skills? Lots of practice. I’ve seen a Chinese lady cut potatoes into perfect, identical thin slices at 100 miles per hour with just a simple kitchen knife! Can we also let go of some of the fancy stuff and really learn how to pray, listen, disciple, and obey? I think we will find so much joy (and power!) in Him when we do.

Let’s get back to the simple skills and tools that Jesus has given us, and let him do the fancy work of changing lives… the most meaningful work of all.