Throughout our three years in China we studied Mandarin with tutors. We achieved a ridiculously modest grasp of the language. Enough for my husband to be able to travel alone for his job and for me to be able to argue with the old women in the markets about the price of carrots and how their tomatoes were too expensive.
This type of banter made me very uncomfortable at first but I kinda started to like it. You get to say all manner of ridiculous things like, "We're friends! How can you charge that much for pork?" and they will say, "I didn't charge enough, now my child won't have dinner." It's all a game and I don't know why we played it but play it, we did. You people who like "price tags" on your items are missing out on so much arguing!
You need to know that in Chinese, there are no English cognates. Cognates are words with the same original root (e.g., English is, German ist, Spanish es). They make language learning easier. Cognates are what make it seem like there is a shred of hope that you may actually be able to speak the language someday.
Chinese has one cognate with English and it's an accident. Ma (as in Mother) is the same in Chinese. But then again, said slightly differently it means "horse" or "hemp" or can turn a statement into a question. So, never mind. It's really no cognate at all...
After four years back in the States, one word still sticks out to me. 假的 (jiǎde). It means bogus, phoney, fake. When it was written on my Mandarin flashcards, I kept confusing it our English word Jade (the precious stone from China).
It struck me just now that I get fake and genuine mixed up in my daily life as well.
I was reading this morning about how fake religion is worthless. Jeremiah is speaking on God's behalf when he says, "Look. You are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless." He goes on to say that God sees the people living their lives however they want; selfishly chasing empty, dead things and then coming into His temple and declaring, with a sigh of relief, "Ah. We're safe. This is home base." (Jeremiah 7:8-11 paraphrase)
Jiade can look a lot like Jade at first glance. But sometimes if we're honest, we try to convince ourselves fake is real even after we know the truth.
No matter how similar they appear, the dead things we are chasing are still fakes. The empty hobbies we have- the ones we don't want our grandmas to know about: still bogus.
God sees what we're up to. Why do we carry on like God is either completely ignorant or blind? He is neither. Not even a little bit. He knows the jiade we are trying to pass off as Jade.
I'm not trying to be negative or harsh. You might do it recreationally, I am a professional junk chaser. Just yesterday I asked my husband if we could make a big purchase I "knew" we "needed" and he (kindly and gently) asked me to consider whether I might just be wanting to make the purchase because I was trying to fill a lack I perceived in myself.
Why, yes. Yes I was. Well played, friend. You just saved yourself $297.
I chase Jiade. I chase it hard and I usually catch it. You'd think I'd fit into my skinny pants with all the running I do. But that would be a benefit and really, there are no long-term benefits to chasing junk.
So please. Join me in chasing Almighty God today who is everything He says He is and more than we could ever deserve instead of chasing dead things and only periodically checking in with Him so we "feel" safe.
Let's chase the real thing and BE safe.