China is in the news! Recently it overtook Japan as the second largest economy in the world after the USA. Almost everything you buy seems to be made in China. A pair of Georgia boots I bought for yard work turns out to have been made in China.
A startling fact, published in the British medical journal The Lancet, is that nearly one in five adults in China has a mental disorder, as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a figure that put China in the ranks of the most mentally ill countries in the world. Suicide is the leading cause of death among young people.
A retired art-history professor, when interviewed, became haunted by a sense of loss: “What do I want in this society? Where do I fit in? Where is my place? These are the things that have always bothered me. It didn’t affect my work, but spiritually, I always felt that I was lacking something.”
She has come to see a symmetry in China’s lurch from political mania to capitalism at all costs. “We had a mission – to liberate the world! – and then, all of a sudden, that bubble burst, and none of it was true. So what were we to do now? That’s when we started making money, and now we cling to our money. But it can’t bring us spiritual satisfaction.” As she sees it, that’s the modern Chinese predicament. For all that separates her experience from that of a factory worker on an assembly line in Shenzhen, she empathizes with the factory worker. “We all need to know the value of our own existence,” she said. “If they don’t see the value of their existence, then they won’t see the meaning of living.”
David Aikman has written about the progress of the Gospel in China in “Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity is Transforming China and Changing the Global Balance of Power.” He maintains that the Gospel is winning millions of Chinese in their spiritual poverty. The spiritual vacuum of the secular culture and the courageous witness of Chinese believers is resulting in the growth of the Chinese church. When twenty to thirty percent of the population becomes Christian the nation will be transformed.
It is in the Bible that we discover the value of our existence. In Jesus we discover that we are loved by God and that he has a plan and purpose for our lives. In discovering that love, the gift of eternal life, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit so that Christ lives in and through us by faith, we have hope for the future. Living takes on new meaning when we discover that God is working out his purposes through us.
Money cannot bring us spiritual satisfaction but we are given the unsearchable riches of Christ which satisfy us at the deepest level. “Made in China” perhaps, but “Remade in Jesus.”
“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-19)