John Chau – a young graduate from Oral Robert’s University – only 26 years old when he embarked on his final venture to a remote Island in India where the Sentinelese live in complete isolation.
It was there that he would give his life for Christ in an attempt to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to these lost people.
His sacrifice has laid a challenge to the modern church.
At an age when young people are having fun partying, dating, going to college, hanging out with friends, and generally having what many would consider a good time, John Chau was busy laying his life down.
He had an apparent passion for spreading the gospel, as Oral Robert’s University reports that in 2012 he went on two mission trips, and then another in 2014 as a team leader.
In reading their tribute to him, it is apparent that he had a passion to reach people wherever he was. It seems he sought ways to reach out and touch lives.
John Chau’s Challenge to the Church
As I’ve spent this week reading several news stories, tributes, and comments on social media about the martyrdom of this young man, I am reminded of a sermon by John Piper: Don’t Waste Your Life.
If there is anything one could say, it is that John Chau did not waste his life.
Oh, I know there are those out there who think he did. Sadly, his decision to try to reach this unreached people group has come under tremendous attack, as people have made numerous and hurtful assumptions based on their own limited comprehension of his story.
And yet, had he led a typical 20-something college and post-college life, even many Christians wouldn’t have batted an eye.
This is a sad narrative of the church today: when we would rather that our young people take what is called “the best years of their lives” and waste them on empty pleasures.
Even anticipate that they will engage in risky worldly behavior.
But when they dare to take those years and risk them for Christ, this is unacceptable. It is worthy of public flogging and irresponsible.
And yet, he has laid before the church a great challenge; and the challenge is this:
What are you going to do with your life?
Jesus said that if you try to hang on to your life, spare your life, do what you want with your life, live the good life with the perfect marriage, perfect kid-ratio, advancing career, nice house in beautiful suburbia, with a great car, and nice retirement package, you have already lost it.
But those who surrender their life; surrender the right to have the last word; surrender the right to make their own decisions…
surrender the right to modern comforts and what we’re told is “success”….
They have gained life!
John Chau gained life. He didn’t waste his life, he gained life.
What a said narrative it is when the church – when God’s people who are called by His name, who have a Bible for every demographic, for every level of literacy, in multiple translations, would cry out that this is a tragedy.
A life that was wasted too soon.
Its tragic to read the comments by Christians publicly flogging him for daring to visit the island, potentially carrying an infectious disease, when every Sunday we sing about an Almighty God.
When we hold in our hands a Bible filled with accounts of the amazing miracles Jesus performed.
This is the challenging question: Do we believe that God is all powerful or not?
Or are the words we sing just lip service?
Or do we simply believe the Bible is a book of stories, much like Mother Goose or Brothers Grimm?
I’ve read comments that disparage his decision to visit this remote Island people, saying that he should have left them alone.
Why? So that they could die lost in their sin? So that they will never know the joy of salvation and eternity in the presence of God?
Have we forgotten the Great Commission to go into all the world and take the gospel to every creature?
Why would the Sentinelese be exempt from this command?
Are they not as lost as any other unbeliever? Why shouldn’t they be reached with the gospel?
Or do we no longer believe that the lost are truly damned to hell?
The challenging question is: Do we truly believe what God’s Word says about sin and the lost?
Do we really believe there is a hell?
Or have we accepted a false gospel that eases our conscience with lies that these remote people worship God in the only way they know how?
That God will understand.
That people aren’t ever truly lost, we all worship God in our own way. After all, we’re all children of God.
Jesus said, “You are my friends if you do what I command.” Did you catch the qualifier?
John Chau knew the truth.
He gave his life for the truth.
Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Peter Fleming, and Roger Youderian knew the truth when they gave their life for the gospel in Ecuador.
The challenging question is, has the church become so deceived that she no longer knows the truth?
Is she so caught up in this world with it’s empty pleasures and toys?
Has she become so infected with tolerance and political correctness; has she become so infested with a false gospel that tells us that we all seek God in our own way that she has completely lost all passion for heaven?
Or will she step up and accept the challenge to stop wasting her life, and begin giving her whole life for the sake of the gospel?