As I sit here in China trying to capture just a brief glimpse for the people in Harlan, I am overwhelmed. There is so much to say so much to share so much to try and capture with the limitations of language.
First things first, China is bigger than you can imagine. During our time in Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City it was estimated that there were as many people in these two sites as live in the Omaha. Much like WashingtonD.C., Beijingis the capitol of China and is as much a destination for the Chinese as D.C. is for Americans. The line to see the entombed Mao Tse Tung was at least ¾ of a mile lone and the people were 5 across in line.
Traffic is bigger. On average it would take us an hour and 30 minutes to get anywhere in Beijing. On one occasion it took us an hour to go 2 miles in the traffic. I wish there were a way to capture how chaotic traffic is yet it seems to have a flow of its own that makes sense to the Chinese. The best way to understand it would be to try and follow a red blood cell around your body. That cell has a purpose and direction but there is not a clear, direct path to get there yet somehow it gets to where it needs to be without crashing into every other cell out there. At one time we headed the wrong way down a section of the interstate without a singe horn, glare or other gestures in return.
The Great Wall is truly bigger. There is a reason this is on of the man made marvels in the world. This is my second time to the wall and I am still in awe of it. The pitches and inclines that the wall was built on are a feat of engineering that I cannot even begin to understand how they did what they did when they did it. I could understand given our modern technology how we could build such a thing today but not back then.
The poverty is bigger. We are in a village about 10 miles from the outskirts of Beijing and the conditions that the villagers
live in are at a much lower level than I have experienced before. There is a very clear difference between the China
that benefited from the move to the open market system and the China that has not yet caught up. In our village (yes even their villages are bigger…the one we are in is roughly 30,000) very few homes have running water and they share communal commodes. Roughly every 3 blocks there is a public restroom that is shared by the community which is where they get their
Of course the food was incredible, even for this meat and potatoes guy. Authentic Chinese food is really good. At one of our
nicer meals we were served 18 dishes for 13 people. Hot and spicy green beans, chicken in peanut sauce, kung pao chicken,
delectable little pastries in a sweet sauce, beef and noodles, chicken spicy soup and some vinegar infused sprouts. Some of our group also went way out of the norm and ate some donkey meat sandwiches, pig intestine, cow stomach, crunchy sea horse, scorpion and these incredible candy coated fruit on a stick.
I was saddened by just how westernized China has become. The only place we were not overwhelmed by the westernization of
China was in the village. On every trip into Beijing we saw a Starbucks, McDonalds, KFC (the Chinese love KFC), Nike stores, and even a GAP. But is goes beyond that. At one point in time on the interstate we were passed in succession by 2 Audis, a BMW, a Bently, and a Mercedes Benz. If you want to know why your gas prices are going up you only have to know that the Chinese are roughly adding 10,000 cars a week to their roads.
Next time, I will be sharing about faith in China.
Submission is one of those nasty little biblical words that we hate to hear. It offends our pride. It offends our sense of centeredness. This simple word brings a reality that is so very hard to accept…we are not god and we are not the center of the world. As a preacher when I come across this word in the bible, yes, it makes the hairs on my neck stand straight-up because I am about to be humbled.
Biblical submission however is a beautiful word with a meaning that is uplifting rather than demeaning as we would take it in our modern culture. In the Greek, the term is called hupotasso, and it originated from a military context. A soldier would arrange himself under the authority of his commander. There are three key concepts here: a soldier would; 1) arrange his affairs 2) of his own volition 3) under his commander’s authority. Arrange-from your free will under your authority...sounds different than a modern take on this word submit (to subject to some kind of treatment or influence).
For years this concept was abused to subdue and manipulate a man’s position in his home, something I would call false authority, which is not biblical. You see the word submission is frequently used to describe several biblical relationships (citizens to their government, workers to their bosses and yes the relationship a wife should have to her husband). We read about the husband and wife relationship in Ephesians chapter 5 and 1 Peter 3. What is most important to understand about biblical submission is that it is something the one called to submit does of their own choice to their authority. God calls a wife to free submit to her husband, but it is a choice SHE makes. It is a gift she gives her husband, willingly and freely. If a husband demands a wife’s submission it is not biblical and it is not hupotasso.
If a husband is leading according to his biblical authority, then he has arranged himself under the authority of Christ (that is right...a man is called to submit too) and he will lead with love and service, not authority and abuse. It is beautiful to see a marriage where a husband and wife are fulfilling their God ordained roles in the family. God is honored by it and society is so much better for it.
Three years ago I met Eric Metaxes at a fundraising dinner for Tyndale University College and Seminary in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Eric is the author of two incredible biographies (William Wilberforce and Dietrich Bonhoeffer), a former writer for Veggie Tales, and he leads a ministry that targets the societal elites in the heart of Manhattan, Socrates in the City. Eric was the featured speaker at the most recent prayer breakfast in Washington D.C. and if you want to see what it means to be a follower of Christ in the face of the most powerful people in the world take a peak at his video. It is a modern day version of what so many of the Old Testament prophets faced when pleading with the Kings of Judah and Isreal to repent and seek God's forgiveness.
Watch the CSPAN video to see Eric's speech/sermon (he begins around the 35 min). He humorously, yet effectively explains the difference between fake faith and real faith and he did this in a room of politicians. He gives me encouragement to continue to seek the grace necessary to function beyond my own weaknesseses and his speech should give you hope that God is real, Jesus is real and They are looking to have a relationship with you.