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The Shelf-life of Christians

The past two years, troubled by the pandemic, saw many problems that constantly emerged in those booming churches, especially the number and quality of their church membership.

In real life, the commodity has a limited shelf time while a Christian doesn’t. Whoever is in pursuit of a lifetime guarantee period must seek piety for a lifelong time. Time serves as the standard of the expiry date for goods; for Christians, their shelf time is examined not only by a long period of time, but by trials and tribulations as well.

In turbulent times, the courage of being a Christian martyr turns out to be the touchstone of one’s quality; in peaceful times, the attitudes to fame and wealth are to be considered as the dividing line between Christians with prolonged shelf life and those without it. The test of faith may be presented to Christians both in their smooth and pleasant journey, and on their rough and rugged road. Christians who can resist temptation, fame and wealth, as well as vanity to remain moral, pure and decent, rely on their quality of life that is invariably good.

Photo by Erwan Hesry on Unsplash

Power, wealth and lust resemble three devils that harass the life of Christians, for their quality is challenged by these three big obstacles. The reason is -- power may entice people to fall into depravity, and become evil doers and green-eyed monsters who are jealous of the talented and virtuous others (1 Samuel 18:6-9); because of the obsession with money, one may get manic and greedy, and then even lie to the Holy Spirit (Act 5:1-11); lust can produce a troubled mind, making a man utterly unethical and selfish (Galatians 5:19-21).

When goods pass its expiration date, the flavor and quality may go off with unbearable smell, not to mention using it. If a Christian lives a life without such a “guaranteed quality”, then the “aroma of the knowledge of Him” (2 Corinthians 2:14) will leave and be no more pleased and used by God.

As an old Chinese proverb goes, “Like a boat sailing against the current, to stand still is to go backwards.” Yesterday’s piety never equals  today’s pursuit; today’s pursuit is never equivalent to tomorrow’s glory. The boat sailing on the life’s journey of a Christian void of faith and perseverance will be under the risk of overturning at any moment. The shelf-life of Christians mirrors a sort of spiritual personality, a spiritual state, a pursuit of goal, a steadfast mind and a lifelong lesson. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7)

Today when endeavoring to develop Christianity in the Chinese context, we shall utilize the most familiar discourses in our daily life, so as to illustrate the life of Christians and better understand the significance of “preserving the freshness of life”, which can be seen as a way of embodying the integration of Christian faith and social culture.

Author: Li Fusheng

Translator: Bei Feng

Published on Tianfeng 2021 (Vol. 12)