Friday, November 4, 2011

What If...

How often do you sit down after a plan does not go the way it was supposed to and ask yourself "What if?" If you are like any person who has ever lived, this is probably a weekly occurrence at the very least. There are probably dozens of things in your life that make you ask that all to familiar question, but let's take some time to think of that question historically; specifically through a Christian lens.

We are all familiar with the travels of Marco Polo to the Far East. Polo became the first European in centuries to travel so far east and, as far as we know, the first European to enter China. At the time, China was ruled by Kublai Khan, the grandson of the infamous Genghis Khan. What many people do not know is the Khan was so captivated by Polo's account of Christianity that he ordered that he return to Europe and return with 100 Christian ministers so that he, his court, and all of his citizens (he ruled China and parts of India at the time) could be baptized. He claimed that there would be more Christians in the Far East than in all of Europe; and he was right. When Polo gave the Church this message, they were in the midst of a power struggle between candidates for Pope. In addition, the Church was in a constant power struggle with individual monarchs over who had the most authority. In the end, it took them 30 years to send two monks to Kublai Khan's court; two monks who turned back after a few weeks' journey due to "illness." As we know now, China was never converted to Christianity and now remains of the anti-Christian countries in the world. What if the Church had been focused on its true mission and sent the clergy to China? What would the world be like today?

"What if" is a question we should never have to ask ourselves, especially as Christians. In medieval Church was too consumed in itself to realize the incredible opportunity it had. Because of their hypocrisy, we face a Chinese nation that, even though there is an incredible growing number of underground Christians, is a country that stands ardently opposed to Christianity. We need to learn from our past mistakes. When we see an opportunity to witness, no matter how big or small it is, he need to take. We cannot be left wondering "What if?"

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