Chinese Church VoicesChurch and Society

The Gospel for This Generation

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A warning to our readers: This article discusses disturbing material regarding abuse and suicide.

This past June, Chinese social media erupted with coverage on the disturbing suicide of a 19-year-old girl in Gansu province. What made the incident even more tragic is that while she was still standing on the building, onlookers below urged her to jump. Social media was awash with assessments of how this tragic incident could occur in Chinese society today.

This article by Qin Lu at Defending the Truth offers hope on how the gospel speaks into such situations.

Contemplations on the Gospel and the Suicide of a 19-year-old Gansu Girl after Being Sexually Assaulted

At first, I did not have the courage to write this article. I turned on my computer, and sat facing the cold screen and keyboard, not knowing how to start writing about the anger and grief I felt in my heart. I felt waves of pain in my chest. Several times I wanted to cry, but could shed no tears.

The details of the event are already clear. In Xingyang, Gansu—a place that I’ve never heard of, much less visited—a 19-year-old girl in her best years—someone I have never met and never known—was sexually assaulted repeatedly by her teacher. After seeking help in vain multiple times, she decided to commit suicide by jumping off a building. The ugliness and inhumanity of the gathered onlookers is chilling. Finally, with the “eager anticipation” of the onlookers, the girl leaped off.

As a Christian, as a father of two children (one of whom is a daughter), as the shepherd of a church, I do not know how to respond to something like this. Just as with the recent spate of news about murders and suicides after the college entry exams, I am left speechless.

At first I wrote an article condemning the gathered onlookers, severely condemning them. But then, like my other articles, I deleted it.

Then I wrote an article analyzing this generation we live in, analyzing it in detail, thoroughly dissecting it. But I deleted that also.

I won’t keep you guessing, and won’t use clickbait. I put directly in the title the topic I want to write about, that is, the gospel.

The Bible says, “But these [people], like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed.” [2 Peter 2:12]

The Bible also says, “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” [Mark 7:21-23]

The Bible also says, “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.” [Galatians 5:19-21]

The Bible also says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” [Jeremiah 17:9]

Regarding the gathered, jeering onlookers, I’ve used up any words I could think of. Inhumane? Completely depraved? Cannibalistic?

The age in which we live has always been this way. It has always been rebelliously against God. If we have even the smallest hope or optimism for our human selves, then we cannot know the gospel.

If we have not realized that the unsaved (just as we have been) die in sin and transgressions, and are utterly corrupt and fallen, then we cannot realize what grace is.

If at this point, even now, we still think that there is even a shred of kindness in humanity, then we do not know who the devil is.

From the Sanlu formula milk scandal, to the RYB kindergarten abuse cases, there are hundreds of thousands of cases in this world more dreadful, more evil, more terrifying, and more corrupt. They have always happened, continue to happen, and will keep happening. It is only that we don’t know about them yet.

In the face of such events, such clamoring, hot news items, we have already invested so much energy and attention. My question now is, aside from venting, lamenting, or even cursing, what else can we do, but share the gospel? Tell me, what else can we do?

Is there any possibility that you or I could run to Gansu to comfort the family of this girl? To offer them help? Perhaps. But, what is more important than that?

Allow me to be “theologically correct” this once. Allow me to say something unpopular on this issue that we are all indignant about: Jesus Christ is the only one who can save this generation and those gathered onlookers—aside from his blood shed on the cross, aside from his gospel, there is not a thing, nor a person, nor any movement, however great, that can save our generation.

Perhaps you think that my “theological correctness” is not moving, nor does it resonate with you, nor does it give you a reasonable opportunity for outrage. Perhaps you think that I did not write with enough depth, that my insights are not profound, my analysis not comprehensive. . . . All I can say is, aside from giving us an opportunity for venting and outrage, aside from one or two slogan-like “we should spread the gospel,” what more meaning can such events generate?

Do you remember the article I wrote in response to the RYB scandal last year? Do you even remember the RYB kindergarten scandal? Once these hot topics cool down, they are no longer meaningful. Within a few days after the girl committed suicide, few people will remember except for her family. Perhaps the onlookers will continue to be subjects for after-dinner discussion. But what about us? How long will we remember?

Only when the gospel of Jesus Christ becomes the hot topic in our lives that never goes out of date, then are we saved. Only when the gospel of Jesus Christ, with its forgiveness of sin and salvation, becomes the constant center of our lives, can we calmly respond to such events. I believe that until the day our Lord Jesus Christ returns, we can never completely avoid such events.

So, I can only say three words: share the gospel. Nothing else. Aside from the gospel of Jesus Christ, the punishment of law, execution of justice, human rage, public condemnation, systematic restraint—none of these can truly save us.

I had just brought my kids down to the park to play. As I watched my one-and-a-half-year-old daughter, I thought of the girl who so recently left our world. I do not know what her faith was like, so I cannot be certain where she is now. But I do know, without the gospel, I would be in hell. And then I thought, if anyone even tried harassing my daughter, I would kill him by a thousand cuts, and then have him hanged, drawn, and quartered, and then. . .

Our difficulty is that we very easily discover the corruptness and ugliness of the world, and that we easily discover the evil and fallenness of humanity, but we forget that we, too, are a part of this broken generation. It is so difficult for us to reveal our own evil and corruptness.

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved. . .” [Ephesians 2:1-5]

So, Jesus Christ came to tear aside our ugly faces, so that we would realize that we are no different from the crowds back then who watched Jesus and shouted “crucify him!” And we are no different from the crowds today who watched the girl and shouted at her, “hurry up and jump!” We are no different. We are the same—we were dead in our trespasses and sins. So when we condemn them in outrage, please, please do remember, it is by grace we have been saved.

If deep in our hearts we think that we are even slightly better than they are, then we have not known the gospel. If deep in our hearts we think that we are even slightly more worthy of the gospel than they are, then we are utterly ignorant of the gospel.

So my dear brothers and sisters, whom I love, though some of you I do not know, we can be angry, we can condemn, we can be outraged. But what is our only hope and way out? Faced with this corrupt and fallen generation, aside from hiding in our own comfortable “gospel nests,” what else can we do but preach the gospel of Jesus Christ? What is more precious than this gospel? I see so many articles on my timeline that exclaim, lament, and feel helpless. Aside from this, what else can we do?

Perhaps, you have grown accustomed to such events. Perhaps you are numbed, and read it simply as news. Or perhaps, like me, you no longer want to waste these hot topics.

And so, I hope that you do not curl up in cold numbness, and I hope that such anger does not become the motivation and source of your desire to spread the gospel. Instead, I hope that the great love and grace with which Jesus Christ saved you and me from our sins can become the source that drives our spreading of the gospel. Do you know what I mean? Truly, you and I are the gathered onlookers, except that, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.” [Ephesians 2:4-5] If not for God’s grace, perhaps we would be worse than them. And so, Christ’s love and graces encourages us—and indeed, it is only by Christ’s love and grace that we are able to love others.

You may think to yourself, Brother Qin, you’ve written this, but can you do it? If you can’t, then don’t command us without compassion or sympathy. On the contrary, I know too well that by my own strength, I am only full of curses and poison. But, by the gospel, I am willing to pray for those onlookers, because I was once like them.

I also know well that true compassion and sympathy is to see this generation for who they are, “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” [Matt 9:36] It was the Lord’s Day yesterday, and the preacher’s sermon was on the passage where Jesus sends out disciples for the harvest. Brothers and sisters, are we ready, in this corrupt, fallen, and filthy world, to take in the harvest for the Lord?

Only by the gospel of Jesus Christ, there is no other way. So, I don’t want to urge you with sensational words or strong phrases to grab your attention. I simply want you, like me, to understand this simple, ancient, seemingly “theologically correct” message: Christ only, the gospel only, and salvation only, is the antidote to our generation and every generation.

“Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth.” [Colossians 1:4-6]

Original Article:《默想甘肃19岁女生遭性侵后跳楼自杀与传福音》from  勇守真道 (Defending the Truth)

Image credit: Aaron Burden on Unsplash.

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