Not About Us

What if it’s not all about us?

For years I have read blogs, articles, books and Bible studies that are all about us . . . about our identity, calling, purpose . . . about how God defines us, names us, sees us, love us.

All important and needed messages for our searching hearts.

But it can also be too much. Too much us.

While visiting my daughter and son-in-law last week—the week of my new grandson’s birth—I started reading a book from the teachings of Nee T’o-sheng, known as Watchman Nee.

Between rocking and cuddling our newborn boy, I’ve been reading Nee’s The Breaking of the Outer Man. The book is from his teaching in 1948 to coworkers in China, just a year before the Cultural Revolution. In 1952 he was imprisoned for his faith and remained in a Communist labor camp until his death in 1972.

Nee languished in prison for twenty years. His beloved wife was the only one who could visit him during those years and she died a year before his death. 

Twenty years in a labor camp—then dying alone there—just for being a follower of Jesus Christ.

We are told that when he died there was no announcement.

No funeral. 

No eulogy. 

No pomp and circumstance . . . at least not here on earth.

His body was cremated in prison before two of his relatives could even get there to view his body.

Nee’s grandniece recounted the time when she received the news of his death:

“In June 1972, we got a notice from the labor farm that my granduncle had passed away. My eldest grandaunt and I rushed to the labor farm. But when we got there, we learned that he had already been cremated. We could only see his ashes. . . . Before his departure, he left a piece of paper under his pillow, which had several lines of big words written in a shaking hand. He wanted to testify to the truth which he had even until his death, with his lifelong experience. That truth is—‘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.’ When the officer of the labor farm showed us this paper, I prayed that the Lord would let me quickly remember it by heart. . . . My granduncle had passed away. He was faithful until death. With a crown stained with blood, he went to be with the Lord. Although Nee did not fulfill his last wish, to come out alive to join his wife, the Lord prepared something even better—they were reunited before the Lord.”

Oh to be like him, never wavering from our love for Jesus no matter the cost. I don’t think we’ll ever fully grasp the impact of Nee T’o-sheng’s earthly life (Nov. 4, 1903–May 30, 1972). Though I don’t agree with everything he’s written—some think others wrote under his name when he was in prison—I do know that decades later his testimony has been part of my self-focused, self-loving undoing this early May in 2019 . . . while holding my newborn grandson.

Nee’s life reminds me of the apostle Paul’s heart’s cry:For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.1 Corinthians 2:2

Will you join me in worshiping Him today as the One who is WORTHY of all of our praise . . .

Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!
Psalm 115:1

30 Responses

  1. Thanks for the great reminder that the focus is Christ crucified not ME! Very timely blog this morning. To God be the glory!

    1. I’m so glad, dear Connie. This one was hard to post, but hopefully you can keep me accountable when there is too much “me” in our conversations.

  2. Beautiful. This came to mind as I read:
    “God is never more glorified in us than when we are completely satisfied in Him.” -piper

  3. I thank God for blessing you with the gift of words, so that you, in turn, can bless us! Very touching and convicting.

  4. Amazing story! It’s not all about us! It’s all about Jesus!
    Thanks for sharing Judy!!! Great food for thought and action!

  5. Thanks Judy for contributing to the “undoing” work in my own life. The glimpse into the life of one who has gone before us —inspiring indeed. Currently I am the care giver for our sweet daughters who are battling through difficult illnesses….so thankful to our Lord who is worthy of all praise. Thank you for posting my friend.

    1. Oh, dear Kelly, you model this so well through your own life. I’m so sorry to hear that your darling girls are battling many illnesses. Please know I am praying for you and them!

  6. The breaking of the outer woman is not a popular subject but a deeply biblical one. A conversation needed in a culture that is about us finding ourselves, accepting ourselves and being ourselves. Is that why Paul writes , ” the love of God compels me so that I no longer want to live for myself but for him? ( 2 Cor 5) Redemption is about God’s love not our identity. While I know it’s important to have an understanding of identity, maybe it’s more important to have a deep experience of His Love in a way that causes us to cast self aside in favor of living all and only for the God who rescued us and loves us. There is so much in scripture that is contrary to today’s culture … thanks for opening this conversation and for posting this blog.

  7. Thank you Judy. I have been saying this for years. We are raising a generation in our church’s that think it’s all about how they “feel”.🙄Serving Jesus is not a feeling. It is a commitment to self sacrifice- taking up His cross in total surrender. Thank you for speaking hard truth 🛐

  8. Omygoodness! I so agree with this! Thank you for this reminder. I turn 50 this year, perhaps it time to read this book myself. Blessings!

  9. Love this truth, my beautiful friend. I have also enjoyed Bible study with Jen Wilkin who is always reminding her students that the Word is about Him… what are we learning and as a result loving about our Awesome God? Who is HE? He is worthy of all glory and honor and praise. HE possesses all power, love, grace, wisdom, and majesty. Humbled and bowed down before Him with you! Love you… xo Julia

  10. You’re such an inspiration, Judy. Thanks for speaking truth into our lives and encouraging us to return to worship of the one true God! Plus, the songs were so good & perfect for me today. Thanks!

  11. Yes! I love this!! Powerful word, Judy! (Watchman Née books were part of my parents’ library long ago. I read some of his works back in the 80’s and 90’s. They moved me too!)

    1. Carolyn, I had also read some of his writing way back, but had forgotten his life story. For some reason the fact that his death was not marked with honor after all he went through and sacrificed really struck me. We so often want to be noticed/acknowledged/honored. And yet, Nee humbly wrote a note and tucked it under his pillow before his death to continue to proclaim what Jesus Christ has done for us.

  12. I know you wrote this a couple of months ago, but the timing is very interesting for me. Literally just had this conversation with a friend the other day that sometimes — our faith is focused too much on ourselves and too little on Him. It’s an important reminder. Thank you!

  13. This was beautifully written from your heart. You clearly seek to glorify God. Thank you for sharing. I agree with you in my prayers for God to be glorified and never myself. God bless you and your family and all of our faithful brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering for His glory.

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