Japan has always been skeptical of outside influences. Recently Maki thought to do a little google search in Japanese to see what the average person thought about Christianity, the results were…sobering. For example, bloggers and reviewers warned others that Churches use programs to catch people. Also, that churches can be manipulative, especially churches that are unaffiliated, words like ‘evangelical’, or ‘grace’ are especially dangerous! If you must, go to a Catholic or ecumenical church because they have leadership accountability.
Yikes,what are we supposed to do with that? While this is a less than glowing report, there is a lot we can gain from it. Glaringly, I see a problem that is common to Christianity in the West as well, and it goes right to the root of our theology. We may not realize it, but we often think about God as needing our services. In our evangelism we push to close the sale, or convince through debate often leaving others frustrated or feeling misunderstood. But we do not need to rage like the nations (Psalm 2). Why? What is this secret, freeing doctrine that we have taken our eyes from? Aseity! (haha, I bet you weren’t expecting that, I wouldn’t have) Aseity describes an attribute of God where He exists in and of Himself. He is not reliant on anything, instead everything relies on Him (Acts 17:25). How is this freeing? God doesn’t need our services. It allows us to serve Him out of love, in the same way that He serves out of love. Humanity can glorify God, but not in a way that adds anything to His already limitless glory. In the same way, when we do outreach we don’t need to rely on the bait and hook mentality in making disciples. If we give of ourselves in the way that Christ did, we can leave room for the work of the Holy Spirit to draw people to Himself, and we show skeptics that Christianity is about a God that loves them, not about bunch of religious people that are looking to add disciples that serve them (as Japanese are skeptical of).
As a side note, I want to thank you all for reinforcing this concept to me. Your prayers and gifts to missionary work obviously don’t net you any gain. You are giving sacrificially, especially in this Covid-19 season, without any expectation of getting something out of it. This is the type of love that we want to show, because it is true Christ-likeness, selfless love that flows through us to others.