While most eyes today are on Pope Francis‘s address to Congress, Chinese President Xi Jinping continues his travels in the U.S. He will have dinner tonight at the White House and hold meetings in Washington and at U.N. headquarters across coming days.
His visit comes amid heightened tensions between our countries. Experts say Chinese cyber spies are stealing American corporate secrets, threatening our nation’s economic future. A rally today near the White House will highlight human rights abuses in China against Christians, writers, human rights lawyers, and minority communities.
American authorities recently announced that two Chinese JH-7 fighters flew within 500 feet of the nose of an American RC-135 spy plane. China recently sent a flotilla of warships through the Bering Sea and U.S. territorial waters. A large Chinese military parade earlier this month included missiles specifically developed to target U.S. carriers. And China is claiming sovereignty over much of the South China Sea, a territory with huge oil and gas reserves. One-third of the world’s shipping travels through these now-disputed waters.
No one knows if China will one day rival America’s global power and status, or if we will remain the world’s only superpower. But we must never assume that present prosperity is guaranteed. Two centuries ago, France was Europe’s greatest superpower. A century ago, England was the world’s greatest superpower. Twenty-five years ago, the Soviet Union was a global superpower.
Scripture repeatedly warns against presumption:
- God will punish sin, whether sinners recognize their fate or not: “I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant, and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless” (Isaiah 13:11).
- Human power cannot protect us from divine justice: “The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue” (Psalm 33:16-17).
- Present righteousness does not guarantee future godliness: “When a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice and does the same abominations that the wicked person does, shall he live? None of the righteous deeds that he has done shall be remembered; for the treachery of which he is guilty and the sin he has committed, for them he shall die” (Ezekiel 18:24).
- Nor does present success guarantee future prosperity: “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:13-14).
The solution to presumption is submission: “Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that'” (James 4:15). How submitted to God’s will are Americans today? How submitted are you?
John F. Kennedy noted, “History is a relentless master. It has no present, only the past rushing into the future. To try to hold fast is to be swept aside.” We can hold fast to the present, or we can hold fast to the One who holds time and eternity in his hands.
But we cannot do both.