Seeing Luck and Destiny in Contrast to Bustling Temples With Desolate Churches

An incense stick inside a temple
An incense stick inside a temple
By Li DaonanFebruary 16th, 2024

The liveliest places during this Spring Festival, aside from tourist attractions, are temples and temples of the Wealth of God. In order to burn incense, people wake up early and rush to queue at the temple gates. The expectation for the God of Wealth and good fortune far outweighs the desire to celebrate the Spring Festival joyfully. More precisely, during the Spring Festival, people seek help from deities in the hope of improving their economic income for the coming year.

What is luck? For example, winning the lottery is commonly seen as having good luck. Some may attribute a year of smooth sailing and business success to having good luck. Originally a normal event, it is gradually associated with luck.

Another concept related to luck is destiny. Some people think they were born with a predetermined destiny that is unrelated to probability. When people face certain situations, they may think of destiny, and when facing greater hardships, they tend to connect it with bad destiny. The harsh reality forces them to accept their fate. 

Two concepts related to destiny are luck and misfortune. Lucky individuals may be successful and happy, paying less attention to destiny. Only those who are unfortunate, finding it challenging to change their circumstances through personal efforts, will focus on destiny.

The increasing unpredictability of society prompts people to believe in luck, while the harsh realities of social suffering make people believe in destiny. The unpredictable future and harsh reality lead people to mystify them, letting them believe that they can change them through mysterious behaviors.

Perhaps this is the reason for the fervor for burning incense during the Spring Festival. The tradition of burning incense has a long history, spanning thousands of years. However, for ancient people, frequent natural disasters combined with prevalent plagues and societal chaos led them to focus on destiny and luck.

The Christian faith is against luck and destiny. and is a set of values that one can adhere to regardless of the circumstances. When a person experiences hardships, "he" will not be discouraged or give up. If "he" discovers that his suffering is caused by society, "he" will strive to change society. Here, "he" refers to a collective group sharing the same faith. Because of the same faith, a collective strength is formed to confront unpredictable environments.

What does the Bible say about destiny? Any form of failure or congenital disability is not a matter of destiny or luck. Faced with a person born blind, Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in his life."

In contrast to the thriving incense burning in temples, there are no worshippers in churches praying for God to make them wealthy or lucky. This is because they probably understand that Jesus is not like those wealthy gods who can bring good luck through prayers. Jesus can’t bring luck, which has a low probability and an uncontrollable nature. He is the Word made flesh, embodying order and rules. 

- Translated by Abigail Wu

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