Friday, 4 November 2005

bacon and eggs

A Chinese student said to me that many Chinese are now interested in Christianity. Knowing this full well, I asked her why she thought this was, and in our ensuing conversation, she showed a perception of the difference between culturally being 'christian' and actually being a Christian. Following my mention of real Christians in China, in contrast with many 'cultural christians' in the UK, she gave the following analogy:

Suppose I were British, and I eat bacon and eggs for breakfast every day. All my life I eat bacon and eggs for breakfast; I don't know any breakfast but bacon and eggs. I eat it because I have always eaten it. But suppose I were not British, and I come to this country and I have tried many different breakfasts - and I discover bacon and eggs, and I love it! I now have it every day! But there is every difference between discovering bacon and eggs for yourself, and just eating it because you didn't know anything else.*


A second analogy (the Chinese are good at communicating in stories parables!):
I am from China, but I have only been to the Great Wall once. But if a friend were to come to China, I would take them to see the Great Wall, and they would be very interested in it. But to me, I am used to it, so I take it forgranted. I don't think about it, I don't notice it.*
(So those brought up in 'christian culture' take it forgranted, they don't think about it, and they don't appreciate it.)

"Historically, every culture and country in the world has some religion, some god, except China. [Here she agreed with me that they still have a philosophy on life, a 'religion'.] But we have no god - no High thing, no creator, no 'One'. We are lost in this, so we seek a meaning in life: to make sense of life, and feel satisfied. And Christianity is the biggest religion in the world, so we want to find out more."*

[*paraphrased because I've tried to remember it.]

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

The devil over-reaches himself yet again! ;D

mama

étrangère said...

Indeed! And more encouraging things are happening, but I don't like to post them in a public sphere. I'll send out a prayer letter soon.

Mikey C said...

Cool stuff, and this nicely seques into the previous post about cultural background being a hinderance. I think we sometimes put too much value on things in our society that are "Christian" in name only, when often they actually obscure the Gospel behind a veneer of rules and rituals.

Mikey C said...

first sentance should read:
this nicely segues (assuming that's a word) into the previous post about nominally Christian cultural background being a hinderance.

Caleb W said...

I've a Japanese friend from the Debating, who's a Shintoist. We chatted a bit about our respective beliefs. He knew very little about Christianity, and I found it really interesting and in a way refreshing to try and explain the Gospel to someone who doesn't have any previous knowledge about the Christian message, nor any of the cultural baggage that everyone in Britain has with Christianity. One of the things that particularly struck me was just his surprise at the idea of God's free forgiveness. He just said something like "You believe he forgives sins? Oh! That's interesting." Most people in this country just take that idea for granted, but hearing him say that just made me think "Yes, it *is* interesting, and amazing! Thank you God!"

I think that Christianity in Britain, and probably much of Western Europe, probably needs to go through a time when all the dead wood of the accumulated cultural baggage and empty structures are cleared away, so the living Church can actually start growing again. In a recent poll by the BBC, 67% of Britons identified themselves as "Christian", but more detailed surveys have shown that many people just use this to mean "a good person". But despite headlines that pronounce that at the current rate, the Church will no longer exist in the UK in 20 years or whatever, church attendance and Bible believing Christianity is actually growing in the UK - it's just that overall membership is currently falling faster than this growth (the main cause being death!) So it's going to take a while for the baggage to be cleared, but what we'll probably end up with is a much more secular society with a smaller, but more alive, committed and growing church. I think that when the decks are cleared, and the nominalism and baggage has been swept away, it could be an exciting time for the church. At least, I'm praying that God will be working powerfully in the church by then!

By the way, Rosemary, I might just be able to forgive you the off-topic commenting, and I'll respond to that in some way sometime soon!