Our Fakers Vs. Yours

Great number of new faces last night! The girls had an activity the other night and lots of new students came out. Three of them came to church last night. Some good conversations with them afterwards – I actually think that a couple of them are going to come to our Friday night class. I talked to one of them for a while after the second service – she had lots of questions, but I think she was pretty surprised by the answers. Specifically about our distinction between religion and relationship and the eastern, non-Amercian origin of Christianity.

 

She asked me about what percentage of Americans are Christians. This implication being, of course, the first step towards the tired “faith is a product of a geographical accident” argument. You’re a Christian because you’re an American, so why do you want to make Chinese people become Christians. She really was wondering though, no real interest in argument. When I told her that a lot of Americans are professing, in-name-only Christians. It’s a religious, cultural affiliation rather than a life-central relationship. That confused her at first. It always seems so strange to them, but an illustration came to me that helped get the point across faster than ever last night.

 

As Friday night was the Pure Brightness Festival, I asked her if all the people that burn money are Buddhists. Of course not – but after many years, religion soaks into a culture. Many people that participate in religious ceremonies, or even call themselves by the name of the faith, are not true believers. That really helped her to understand the American situation. Plus my favorite trump card about there being more Christians in China than America – of course, that’s chucking out the logic of the illustration I just gave, but if you want to count America’s fakers, you gotta count China’s, too.

 

On to week two of Philippians. This series is going to give me an aneurysm. You could preach all day long on any one or two verses in the first chapter – covering thirteen or so in one message is quite the exercise. We hit verses 12-26, which is Paul’s “how-I’m-holding-up” message to the Philippian church. Turns out he’s doing alright! Death, life, prison, freedom, whatever – in Paul’s eyes, they’re all just different ways of doing the same thing – magnifying Christ. (Another awesome concept – magnification: to make something larger, more obvious, more evident, more noticeable) We gave out a card to every attender that said, “For to me to live is _______, and to die is _______.” In Chinese, of course. I told them to think about it for a few days and then fill it out.

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