Remember your Creator
In The Upheaval, Lyons paints a landscape of the unprecedented change that is sweeping across the world. He notes that the key players include China, driving geopolitical change; America, influencing global culture and ideas; and the rest of the world managing technological innovations at a rate that is previously unheard of. The revolutions Lyons describes are both global in scale and disturbing because there is no guarantee that the key individuals behind the changes will remain committed to world peace. In addition, there is the possibility that countries not mentioned and yet wield significant military might (Russia, North Korea, Iran), could contribute significantly to global change.
In my view, Lyons comments on the China’s “relentless rise” in global geopolitics represents a significant western confirmation to Kishore Mahbubani’s predictions about the resurgence of China after a century of western leadership. Writing in The Economist in April 2020, Mahbubani provides an important reason for China’s dominance.
The entry bar to the Chinese Communist Party is set very high: only the top graduating students are admitted. Equally importantly, the rising levels of competent governance is both fuelled by, and contributes to, rising levels of cultural confidence. All this is gradually eroding the natural deference to the West that used to be the norm in Asia.
Mahbubani substantiates his views with evidence of Chinese leadership in the UN.
Twenty years ago, no Chinese national ran any United Nations organisation. Today they oversee four: the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Telecommunication Union, the UN Industrial Development Organisation and the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
I am not sure what this might mean for global leadership in our hyper-turbulent world, but imagine that given the heartfelt prayers of many Chinese followers of Jesus, the world could be on the verge of a very interesting season of change.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s acceptance speech of the 1983 Templeton Prize unveils an uncommon humility born out of personal experience of persecution and deep respect for the persecuted church. Reflecting on the “ruinous Revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people,” Solzhenitsyn, recalls a conversation he heard as a child and concludes that it is because “Men have forgotten God.” Unimaginable as it may seem, men actually stray so far from God that they forget Him. As the story of the prodigal son illustrates, when we forget God, we lose intimacy with God, family ties, material resources and dignity. Citing the use of poison gas, nuclear arms and other developments, Solzhenitsyn reminds us that we also lose our humanity when we forget God. As if these are not enough, the Christian History magazine shows us how forgetting God can degenerate into severe persecution of followers of Jesus. Claudius, Nero, Domitian and several others illustrate this.
The significant changes sweeping across our world and the great potential to forget God, beckon us to remain faithful until the end, while doing all possible to effectively engage everyone we can with the unchanging gospel of Jesus.
 Lyons, N. S. The Upheaval: Introducing the Revolutions Upending Our World. https://theupheaval.substack.com/p/the-upheaval
 Mahbubani, Kishore. Kishore Mahbubani on the dawn of the Asian century. (The Economist, 2020),. https://www.economist.com/by-invitation/2020/04/20/kishore-mahbubani-on-the-dawn-of-the-asian-century?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIga7gm5_M-gIVlKztCh2NdQW_EAMYASAAEgKRPPD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds
 Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr. Men Have Forgotten God: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s 1983 Templeton Address. (National Review). https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/12/aleksandr-solzhenitsyn-men-have-forgotten-god-speech/#:~:text=The%20Templeton%20Address,why%20all%20this%20has%20happened.%E2%80%9D
 Christian History. Persecution in the Early Church: A Gallery of the Persecuting Emperors. https://christianhistoryinstitute.org/magazine/article/persecution-in-early-church-gallery
14 responses to “Remember your Creator”
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Henry, thank you for your post here. I’m curious on your take of Christian-nationalism. It’s becoming a public health crisis in the United States, and threatening to hurl the US into a totalitarian regime. Conversely, Christian ethics has been a source of renewal and forgiveness in post-apartheid South Africa. Can you write a little the differences of these two movements, which both claim Christ, but which seem to have every different outcomes?
Thanks Michael. In my view, Christian Nationalists mistake promotion of Christianity (evangelization) with enforcing Christianity. The Bible supports only the former. I know too little on Christian nationalism in the US to make any meaningful comment but think that immigration, gun-control, etc, should be examined from a loving and prudent standpoint. A few factors to consider regarding immigration could be: local resources/capacity to absorb new immigrants; the need for brotherly love; pre-existing problems of homelessness and unemployment. I would say balance paying attention to internal challenges with immigration needs of neighbors
Henry, thank you for you post. You wrote, “there is the possibility that countries not mentioned and yet wield significant military might (Russia, North Korea, Iran), could contribute significantly to global change.” Can you say more about how you think these nations can contribute?
Thanks Roy. I think any one of these countries could kickstart a war that could easily rope in several other countries. Their leaders seem inclined towards that and I think all have the military capability to do that. Their military abilities are obviously not at the same level as the US or China, but they are important factors in the equation. Iran, for example, could draw the sympathy of her Arab neighbors if any war breaks out. Even if they do not, I believe realizing that this is a possibility should motivate followers of Jesus to pray. Yet not out of fear, but out of a desire for shalom and the right conditions for world evangelization
Henry, thank you for your summary and connections of the articles. I observed dramatic increase of Chinese dominance and influence into many of africa’s countries as I visited Tanzania and South Africa this year. In your view, how are many and different Africans react to surging of new influences from China?
Henry: Christian History is a great source to understand the broad strokes of movements in Christianity. I read it too. When coupled with Lyons and Solzhenitsyn, one can get a lot of understanding. Lyon’s reading was a little unnerving because of the pace of change–it feels like people are doing all they can to keep up.
You’re very right Troy. Change is happening so fast, and in some ways I feel like the church is supposed to be “ahead of the game,” as we see with Paul when he announced to the almost 300 crew and passengers caught in the storm of Acts 27 that there’ll be no loss of life. I admire that type of prophetic Christianity (if I may borrow Desmond Tutu’s words), yet find myself having to play “catch up” with regards to world events most of the time. God help us
Thanks Jonathan. China is definitely increasing her footprint in Africa through big construction projects. Many Africans I’ve spoken with see this as neo-colonialism but feel disempowered to effect change because they believe their leaders are gaining in some way from this. I would like to see a situation where African countries develop their skills to the point where they can execute some of these projects with local talent and the other projects are outsourced evenly to China and other deserving nations
Henry thank you for this response to Jonathan. How might Africans recontextualize Umbuntu as a way to empower them to move leaders in a more faithful direction?
Nicole I think many Africans, at least in Nigeria and South Africa, seem to be losing their ubuntu. We’re fast becoming very individualistic, if you consider the levels of sibling rivalry, workplace backstabbing/jealousy, political assassinations, etc. I think the love of many is waxing cold. So first, ubuntu needs to be revived at the extended family and neighborhood levels; and I believe the local church could be a significant force to this effect. I refer to ubuntu occasionally in my engagement with the community I serve and try to connect to with scripture. I think it needs much more prayerful discussion for it to be revived. We appreciate your prayers
Henry: I’m interested to know if you see any connections between the communities you work with and the land grabs, increased factory/plantations, etc. by China and others over the years.
Thanks Kayli. I think the most significant land grab situations in South Africa happened as a result of Apartheid. Sadly many are still being impacted by that today, 28 years after the coming of democracy. The community I serve was created by the apartheid government to accommodate black South Africans migrating from the rural areas to work in our city. Unfortunately, over the years it has become overpopulated and lead to the rise of several shacks/informal settlements. With this has come a rise in unemployment, poverty and crime. Although government is making efforts with infrastructure development, small business training, etc, I see the church as the main instrument for development through providing stories of hope from scripture and catalyzing community-driven development projects. We’re very lacking in this area
Thanks Henry. I always find it fascinating reading your posts for a few reasons. One, I love hearing how you perceive this topics of conversation and how you engage them. It is not lost on me your perceptive take on Chinese/Western leadership challenges. Rather that right it or be fearful of it, may we all the more pray for the salvation of many in China, including those in leadership roles! That is a dynamic way of thinking an engaging. Two, I always admire and love that you always come back to the gospel and our Creator. Thank you. It a fast-paced world, He alone is our hope and joy. Press on brother.
Thank you for another thought-provoking post. I too am struck by the statement that “Man has forgotten God” and how that manifests itself in our current societies. What insight has God given you to bring God to the forefront of people’s minds?