Thursday, June 02, 2011

Who are the Enemies of 21st Century 2nd Generation Chinese Christians?

"2nd generation" is a generic reference to anyone who is raised/born somewhere else than wherever their "respective mother country" (ethnic country of origin) may be. Other terms such as "local-born" (Canadian or American-born; CBC/ABC) or "N. American-raised" [or UK, Australian, South American, etc.] can also be used synonymously with this description.

But in particular, for the North American raised (or born) Chinese Christian, what are the present threats that seek to undermine their faith in Jesus? Increasingly and more clearly, over the past 15 years, I have observed the steady increase of the following idols gaining power within the CBC/ABC church:

- materialism
- consumerism
- confused individualism

I guess "materialism" in this case would be "economic materialism" which is something that describes a behavior or value that places priority and importance in the collection of material goods. This is nothing new for CBC/ABCs, we always have the latest tech, gadgets and thing-a-ma-bobs the free market has to sell. Price is no obstacle in many instances, the temptation for "more stuff" is greater than one's desire to glorify God. Just look at what is parked in your garage, what is plugged into the lighter in that thing parked in the garage, what your garage is attached/detached to, the stuff that is plugged into that attached/detached home, etc. For a vomit-inducing experience, just go on facebook or twitter.

Consumerism describes the environment or "social/economic order" which fosters the desire to purchase and acquire goods and services in increasingly greater amounts. Not to be confused with "consumer protection" or "consumer awareness" (which is something that your local Better Business Bureau attempts to promote). Obviously, consumerism and materialism are connected. The desire to acquire "more stuff" could be described as the "consumerist" tendency for greater amounts of material wealth.

Lastly, there is something which would be best described as "confused individualism" which is quite present in many CBC/ABC Christian communities. This is that odd tension which surfaces when local-born Chinese fight for their rights, promote themselves and hang out their shameless laundry of self-serving, "spoiled & privileged" values. Call it equality or the "emperor [or empress] syndrome," many CBC/ABCs gain entry into adulthood believing that they have a "license to sin" and "permission to express themselves" with utter freedom and "a right which I have earned to." "Pay now or later" often comes to mind as many eventually insanely engage warp speed then smash into a wall of reality, shame and humiliation years later. Over compensating for a shame-based culture? Probably. But seriously, are you really that important and deserving? Suck it up, shut up and grow up. You are a sinner, a whinner and a baby. Are you really that which Mommy and Daddy say you are? (or didn't say you are?) No, not really - but God really is "all that" (and more).

Anyhow, all three of these "things" seem to be of greater importance to many CBC/ABC Christians nowadays (is that nominalism?). Many have bought into the fallacy that "with wealth comes power" when in fact for the CBC/ABC "with love of money comes destruction." Scripture offers a stable and steady encouragement of both "ands" - suffer and sacrifice for the sake of righteousness (Jesus) and you will experience real life. Patience and long-suffering are valued in God's economy "wait patiently for the Lord" - God is not about "customer care and satisfaction." How far deep are we into this now? 25 years? The theological and ecclesiological divide is deeper and further now as time goes on.

A sobering reminder of the global inequality that results from consumerism and materialism is found here.

This inequality is not just a poverty/developing country thing either. For example, the current population of Canada & the US is roughly 345,939,000 people. There are around 6,920,000,000 people on planet earth. North America accounts for ONLY 4% of the global population. Currently China (Atheist), India (Hindu) & Indonesia (Muslim) combined have around 2,787,474,637 people - that's 40% of the global population. Food for thought, where do we (N. Americans) get off thinking that our ideas, books and theology are somehow more developed and better than the rest of the world? Moreover, where do we get off believing that our elite ideas ought to govern and inform the global Christian community? When materialism, consumerism collide with Zondervan, ridiculously over priced N. American seminaries, the silliness of N. American "christian" (with a small "c") spirituality . . . it's just an elite group of people with too much time, money, privilege and goofiness. That's western theological colonialism (inequality) on a global scale . . . and sadly, many CBC/ABCs are either platinum card carriers of that program or would like to sign up when it becomes available.

How ought we respond to this? Do we buy into more N. American culture? Do we adapt third world principles? Do we bury our heads in the sand? Perhaps, we could start by repenting of our sins and submitting ourselves to God's established created order as set forth by His word. Perhaps as people repent of their sins the Holy Spirit may begin a real work within the heart of people who humbly come before God with the desire for Jesus to be uplifted and glorified in their lives. Yes, there are the programs, methods and steps for church growth, spirituality and missional living - but seriously? Nothing . . . like nothing (nada) . . . nothing beats the power of the Holy Spirit convicting the world of sin and righteousness. Nothing beats that.

"Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22.37 - 40 NIV)

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