(Hudson Taylor: 1832-1905)
As we continue to reflect on our theme of Living His Legacy, let’s reflect on the life of Hudson Taylor. Taylor’s legacy in China exemplified his gracious personality. People loved him! Why did they love him? They saw Christ inside him. He was humble. He never judged others. He did his best to become a part of their culture as he preached the Good News, wearing their native clothing and growing his hair into a queue (pigtail) with a shaven forehead. Taylor brought over 800 missionaries to China, began 125 schools, resulting in approximately 18,000 conversions to Christianity. Well after his death, Taylor’s churches that he planted in China were thriving, and the Chinese government took note of it, hatching a plan to taint Taylor’s legacy.
They hired a professional writer to publish a book that would be used as propaganda against Taylor. The author, under extreme pressure from the Chinse government, began researching Taylor’s life. His heart swelled with compassion for the man. Through all his research, all his interviews with people who knew Taylor, never once did he find anything remotely bad that would defile his character. Historian Ruth Tucker said this about Taylor: “No other missionary in the nineteen centuries since the Apostle Paul has had a wider vision and has carried out a more systematized plan of evangelizing a broad geographical area than Hudson Taylor.” Taylor’s legacy had already been sealed, and there was nothing the writer could do to change it.
The writer simply couldn’t proceed. He couldn’t bring himself to write lies about Hudson Taylor, and even if he did, the truth of his legacy would still prevail. So, the man did the only thing his heart told him to do. He threw down his pen and became another one of Taylor’s converts, giving his life to Christ. Hudson Taylor’s evangelism was so powerful that he was converting people to Christianity even from the grave! This of course brought anger down from the above authorities, but there was nothing they could do. The writer had already made his choice. He chose Christ over lies, his heart over submission to worldly authority. The research done on Taylor had actually only enhanced his legacy as one of the greatest Christian missionaries of all time. The love of Christ had prevailed.
When I learned about this story two weeks ago in a sermon from our pastor and researched it heavily this morning on Wikipedia, I was astounded by Taylor’s boldness. It made me wonder what type of legacy I was leaving behind at work and at home. How would people remember me? Would my actions show them I was a Christian? Was I forgiving when human instinct sought revenge? Was I humble when I could have been proud? Did I exemplify Luke 9: 23-24 when it states, “Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.’” If you asked the same questions about your own life above, how would others respond? What legacy would be left?
I don’t know about you, but I can think of many times in my life that I have fallen short, dropping my cross on the ground. That is where I am in desperate need of God’s grace. Something that will truly make me flawless in the eyes of my God. I like the way Mercy Me puts it in their latest hit song Flawless when they sing, “No matter the bumps, no matter the bruises, no matter the scars, still the truth is the cross has made, the cross has made you flawless.” It is only through the cross that my legacy can be considered worthy to share with others. I am no Hudson Taylor, but do you know what? God is okay with that. His grace says so. As you carry your own crosses this year on a daily basis, let us take time to reflect on the beauty of that sacrifice that He made for us so long ago. That, my friends, is a legacy worth sharing!
(Check out Mercy Me’s song Flawless below.)