Watchman Nee was hated for being a child of the King ∙
If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. – John 15:18
1 Peter 4:12-16
12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.
13 Instead, be glad – for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.
14 So be happy when you are insulted for being a Christian, for then the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you.
16 But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name!
Watchman Nee, Ni Tuosheng, was a Chinese church leader and writer in China during the 20th century.
In the spring of 1920, when Nee was 17, he went to a revival meeting led by Dora Yu. After returning from the meeting, according to Nee’s own account:
“On the evening of April 28, 1920, I was alone in my room, struggling to decide whether or not to believe in the Lord. At first, I was reluctant, but as I tried to pray, I saw the magnitude of my sins and the reality and efficacy of Jesus as the Savior.”
“I visualized the Lord’s hands stretched out on the cross, they seemed to be welcoming me, and the Lord was saying, ‘I am waiting here to receive you.’”
“Realizing the effectiveness of Christ’s blood in cleansing my sins and being overwhelmed by such love, I accepted Him there. Previously I had laughed at people who had accepted Jesus, but that evening the experience became real for me and I wept and confessed my sins, seeking the Lord’s forgiveness.”
“As I made my first prayer, I knew joy and peace such as I had never known before. Light seemed to flood the room, and I said to the Lord, ‘Oh, Lord, you have indeed been gracious to me’” (Watchman Nee).
Nee formulated many of his ideas from his awareness of the teaching of the Plymouth Brethren. He derived the views of the plurality of elders and worship centered around the Lord’s Supper. He also repudiated the idea of a distinction between clergy and laity.
In 1922, he initiated church meetings in Fuzhou that may be considered the beginning of the local churches. During his thirty years of ministry, Watchman Nee published many books. He established churches throughout China and held many conferences to train Bible students and church workers.
After the rise of the Chinese Communist Party and the Communist Revolution in 1949, Watchman Nee was persecuted. Nee’s courageous, fearless stand for the Lord Jesus Christ angered the Communist party. He was denounced along with his church. He was accused of exercising “a dark, mysterious control” over 470 supposedly independent churches. His followers were condemned as the “anti-revolutionary sect of Watchman Nee” (Joseph Lee, 2005).
He was imprisoned in 1952 for his faith. The Communists tried to break his faith in Christ. Severe treatment and brainwashing failed. For four years, other children of the King did not know where he was. At that time in history, Mao supposedly brought the world “a bright new socialist future.” Nee was preaching that humankind was in the last days. He was found guilty of demoralizing people with his teaching. He spent the previous twenty years of his life in prison.
His last words were left under his pillow before his death on May 30, 1972. It read,
“Christ is the Son of God who died for the redemption of sinners and resurrected after three days. This is the greatest truth in the universe. I die because of my belief in Christ. Watchman Nee” (Watchman Nee’s grandniece).
REFLECT & PRAY
There is nothing odd about being at odds with the world. It is perfectly normal.
Father, thank You for making it clear that this world is not our ultimate home. Instead, we will be with You in the heavenly places.
A love-hate relationship exists between the world on one side and the Father and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, on the other. The Father loves the world, and His Son was sent to die for the sins of the people of this world. But the world hates the Father and the Son. The world hates the very name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Because we are children of the King, the world also hates us. Therefore we should not be surprised when people misunderstand us, dislike us, mistreat us, or insult us. Peter wrote to early Jews for Jesus in 1 Peter that the world’s mistreatment of the Father’s children was not a strange and unusual occurrence. Instead, it was normal and to be expected. The Lord Jesus Christ was the Father’s Suffering Servant. When we suffer for our faith, we are merely following in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We are persecuted because our standards and values are at odds with the world’s standards. At best, children of the King often seem odd or perhaps annoying and judgmental to people of the world. We have moral standards that do not line up with the world’s standards. This creates tension and antipathy. Children of the King tug at the conscience of others, who would prefer to have no conscience at all. “The very goodness of Christianity can be an offense to a world in which goodness is regarded as a handicap” (Barclay).
There is more. Watchman Nee was found guilty of what? Telling the truth. That is precisely what the Lord Jesus Christ was found guilty of.
61 Then the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”
62 Jesus said, “I AM. And you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God’s right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
63 Then the high priest tore his clothing to show his horror and said, “Why do we need other witnesses?
64 You have all heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict?” “Guilty!” they all cried. “He deserves to die!”
John 16:33 In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.
“How could a man about to be crucified say that He had overcome the world? Jesus overcame the world by obeying His Father despite all challenges and opposition. In a similar way, we too can be overcomers” (Revelation 3:21; 12:11) (Stanley).
“The world today does not want Jesus Christ or His church. The world is rejoicing while we are suffering, longing for our Lord to return. In fact, all of creation is suffering “birth pangs” because of sin, awaiting His return (Romans 8:22). When the Bridegroom is away, the bride mourns (Matthew 9:15). But, in “a little while” He shall return, and we shall go with Him to heaven to enjoy the Father’s house . . ..”
“The ultimate application is to all of God’s people as they await the coming of Jesus Christ. To us, it seems like a long wait; but God does not measure time as we do. But while we are waiting, we must deal with our trials and hurts on the basis of transformation and not substitution, if we expect to mature in the Christian life” (Wiersbe).
© Dr. H 2022