In particular, it was the humbling help of a non-Christian friend, from my foreign country of service, that forced me to begin examining this complexity and its connection to the gospel. It started with a visit from another friend, an American, and his return to the United States. Due to some unexpected travel complications, he would have to fly back by way of China, a layover that would require him to procure a Chinese visa in very short order. However, when my national friend got wind of the situation, he immediately jumped into action. He made four separate trips to the Chinese embassy, waiting in long lines and navigating quite a bit of paperwork, to procure a visa in what seemed like record time. Even more, being a university student, he did this during an intense regiment of final exams, sacrificing valuable study time in an educational system that is overwhelmingly exam-based. Through it all, I thanked him frequently for his help, but in response, I received a now-familiar scolding that I have since received on countless other occasions. In this culture, "thank you" isn't something you normally say to your friends. Friends are supposed to serve each other, and there isn't anything especially exceptional when they do. Instead, "thank you" is for strangers. And so in the years since then, I've seen this play out again and again, receiving a level of help from friends that I have rarely, if ever, matched. Suffice to say, this service, saturated deep within cultural conventions, challenged me. It seemed to combat what I knew about human nature, a depravity diagnosed by the gospel itself. But in the end, this struggle led me to glorify Christ. That is, it forced me to expand my view of Christ. It made me recognize his work outside of the church, a work that had certainly affected this culture. As Colossians 1:16-17 says, "For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities---all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together." So I realized that Christ is not only the mediator between God and his elect, but also the mediator between God and all of creation. Being the creator, sustainer, and even the purpose of the universe, all peoples of all cultures owe their existence to his will and work. For me, this recognition of Christ's creationally comprehensive mediation was the first step in practically understanding his common grace, which both restrains the curse of sin and also allows for a kind of cultural flourishing among all peoples. As for proof of its effects, the fact that humanity has not fallen into complete degeneracy is evidence enough. What's more, this mediation means that the praise for any praiseworthy action ultimately belongs to Christ alone. As Calvin wrote in The Institutes, "these virtues, whatever they may be, or rather images of virtue, are the gift of God; since there is nothing in any respect laudable which does not proceed from him." This is encouraging truth indeed as we engage any and all cultures, prompting us to praise him for things around us that we might otherwise ignore. Personally, it has proved immeasurably helpful to my own worship to be able to glorify Christ's work in the culture in which I serve, even if it is largely ignorant of him. And so I have the freedom and privilege to thank Christ for my friend's sacrificial service.