One of the great truths of life that has become increasingly apparent to me as the years have gone by is that life on this planet is governed by certain laws and principles. Wisdom is being able to discern these laws and principles and then living in harmony with them. When one does this, it leads to his or her well-being. This is what you read in the book of Proverbs and is why it has been found to be of such great value to those who read and study it.
In the last few years, I have read of an event in two separate books and also in The Wall Street Journal, and yet for some reason, it has not made as much of a splash as I thought it would have.
Back in 2001 a group of American businessmen were in Beijing. A prominent member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (one of China’s major, government-backed think tanks) came and addressed the group. The contents of his message shocked them all.
The man said:
One of the things we were asked to look into was what accounted for the success, in fact, the pre-eminence of the West all over the world. We studied everything we could from the historical, political, economic, and cultural perspectives. At first, we thought it was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is Christianity. That is why the West has been so powerful. The Christian moral foundation of social and cultural life was what made possible the emergence of capitalism and then the successful transition to democratic politics. We don’t have any doubt about this.
I find these last words to be quite compelling. “We don’t have any doubt about this.”
The Chinese people are very pragmatic, and their intellectuals recognize reality when they see it. Studies by Chinese sociologists have also revealed that, in certain rural areas of the country, where traveling evangelists introduce the Christian faith, over time, they witness the decline of opium addiction, a drop in crime rates, and Christian families’ standards of living rise as they exercise discipline and self-restraint.
In his latest book, Vanishing Grace, Philip Yancey gives great insight into the observations of these Chinese intellectuals when he shares the following quotation:
“I am a Christian not because Jesus’ way benefits society but because I believe it is true. If true, it should create the conditions in which human life works best.”
Twelve times in the book of Deuteronomy, God tells the Israelites to follow His teachings and life “will go well for you and for your children.” This is what the Chinese observed as they studied the history of the western world. It is unfortunate today, I believe, that this message is one that many Americans do not want to follow.
Please pass along this blog to those who you think might find it of interest.