Roots: Who Am I?

By Not Known

My grandfather disinherited me when he discovered that I had become a Christian.  I was his favourite grandchild, but to him, becoming a Christian means turning my back on the 5,000 years of Chinese cultural heritage.  A slogan popularized by the Chinese intelligentsia in the 1930s had been: One more Christian, one less Chinese.

Is being a Christian means jettisoning one’s Chinese roots (or for that matter, whatever roots one originates from?)  Of course, there are those who will not hesitate to disassociate with our Chinese roots for one reason or another and would proudly be regarded as a WOG (Western-Oriented Gentleman).  But by and large, we are proud of our Chinese cultural heritage and tend to look down on other cultures.  (Thankfully, the later tendency is fast disappearing in cosmopolitan Singapore as we begin to understand and appreciate other cultures as the world grows smaller although time and again, it will still rear its ugly head.)

How do we look at our cultural heritage as we allow our Christian faith help us prioritize our values as biblical Christians?  We need to recognize however ancient or glorious our heritage may be, it is still tainted by sin and the Fall.  To be honest, there are aspects of our cultural heritage that are incompatible with our Christian faith.  These need to be transformed if we are serious about living the Christian life. 

One good example would be the Chinese’s innate desire for material wealth that is so evidently expressed in our greetings and well-wishes to one another especially during this time of the year.  As followers of Christ, we need to heed our Lord’s warning that the worship of God and Mammon cannot co-exist side by side (Mt. 6:24).  There is scant no middle ground (although the worship of the mighty dollar is not particularly Chinese in this day and age, there are so many of us still trying hard to appease both sides) and we need to beware.

Apparently, the Athenians during Paul’s day were also not immune from this sort of narrow-minded megalomania of looking down on other cultures other than their own. Darrell Bock in his commentary on the book of Acts observed that they prided themselves in being a superior people while calling other people barbarians.  Paul gently corrected them that “(God) has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth”(Acts 17:16 NKJV).

All of us have our roots in God our Creator and descended from our first parents.  No race or ethnicity is superior or inferior to another.  God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.   We stand equal in God’s sight and together we praise and honour Him alone. 


Joseph Teng