"You have to work hard to offend Christians. By nature, Christians are the most forgiving, understanding, and thoughtful group of people I've ever dealt with. They never assume the worst. They appreciate the importance of having different perspectives. They're slow to anger, quick to forgive, and almost never make rash judgments or act in anything less than a spirit of total love . . . No, wait--I'm thinking of Labrador retrievers!" David Learn, 1998

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Pacifism, Japan, and Jesus Christ (2)

NOTE: Just got home June 13, getting de-jet-lagged. Then I will post photos and impressions. In a word the ceremony, the outpouring of kindness and generosity from the Japanese people, the re-energizing of the world peace movement with Hiroshima as a starting point, and even the potential for impact on the future of nuclear energy in Japan are beyond imagination. Jessica

(Continued from yesterday, written June 7, before we left for Japan)

     I was saved in Japan through the Four Spiritual Laws. I wanted to be a missionary to the Japanese. God had other plans--until now. Somehow I see these few paragraphs I will be flying across the Pacific and down the length of the country to read to a small gathering at an insignificant block of stone as one of the seeds God is planting in the hearts of the Japanese people "at such a time as this." With three body blows--a 9.0 earthquake; a 60-foot high, five-mile long tsunami and a nuclear disaster already equal to the worst in history and not over yet (with a release of radiation to date ten times the radiation of the Hiroshima bomb)--God has shaken what can be shaken throughout Japan and is ready to reveal to the Japanese people what cannot be shaken.
     Their gods of wood and stone, their stoic philosophy, their ancestors, did not help them. Pray hard that they will acknowledge those things dead and done. Pray that they will not try to pick up the shreds and shards of the past, set up toppled statues, dress them, bow to them, feed them, and resume the old rituals which gave a sense of false comfort. Pray they will remain raw, empty, and open until they understand that the true God, the God above all other gods, is trying to get their attention. 
     Pray they will grasp the simplicity of a gospel which calls them to their Creator and offers them a personal, heavenly Father. Before the Four Laws (God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life; you are a sinner and need a Savior; God has provided His son Jesus as that Savior; you can receive Him and be forgiven), the Japanese need to know a fifth (or rather a preamble): "There is one God above all other gods who made us and who wants us to know Him as Father."
     The sticking point for the Japanese is "on" (pronounced "own"). On means obligation and it is a killing burden on these people. On requires that they must pay back, even up, every kindness ever done them. They must repay their parents, grandparents, back through the centuries, for giving them birth, raising them. They must have yearly ceremonies for them, tend their graves, put fresh flowers on the "god-shelf" in their home. There is no such thing as a "free gift." Every gift must be recompensed.
     Imagine how these burdened people feel when a stranger gives them something, a souvenir, a meal, a trip to Disneyland. They are anxious to balance the score. My brother Ted once helped a man without legs re-load onto his low cart a pile of straw that had fallen off it as he pushed it clumsily across rocky ground. I sometimes wonder whether that man ever got over the humiliation and weight of that favor he could never repay to a boy he would never see again.
     Now look at the cross through Japanese eyes. (I had those eyes myself after living there six formative years.) Some lofty Divinity sends His only Son to earth to give His life for you, paying the price for your sins! It's bad enough you can't afford to pay for your own sins--but to have GOD pay for those sins with the body and heart of His SON? Do you know how important a man-child is in Japan, a first-born, an only son? The most valuable possession a man has. And this Divinity, without asking our permission, without taking into consideration the impossible debt he is putting us under, does this for us? 
     Even I went through a phase, as a Christian, where I was so aware of my sin I yelled at God, "I wish You hadn't done that! I didn't ask You to do that for me, You know! I didn't ask You to put Your son through such pain for me! I'm not worth it!" 
It is only recently I have actually gotten beyond our evangelical gospel, which seems to be "take them by their scruff, shake them hard and rub their faces in their sin and the cross!" According to this gospel, Jesus is saying, Look how bad you are! Look what you made Me do to Myself! Look how much pain you put Me through!'" I finally found the Gospel which is in the Bible: Jesus saying (as my mother said when I asked if it hurt to give me birth), "Yes, it hurt a lot, but it doesn't matter because I love you so much I went through it willingly!"
     Japan needs this gospel! No, they don't seem to have any sense of sin--but they do have an oppressive sense of weariness and obligation and to them Jesus is saying, "Come to me, all you who are heavy-laden and I will give you rest!" When they come to Him and find out how much He loves them, then (in that order!) they will say, "Go away from me, Lord, I am a sinner!" But it will be too late. He will have captivated them by His love and they will allow into their hearts what they can never repay--and don't have to, because it is a gift. And gifts, by definition, don't need to be repaid. They can be taken to heart, enjoyed, and celebrated. From that gratitude will flow a life poured out for Him.


  1. Dear..Dear Jessica....you just gave me insight into the Japanese people that NO ONE has ever give me before. You have no idea how important that was / is to me. What a wonderful post...

    God Bless you dear sister!!

  2. Thank you, Connie! We missed you. Just got home. It was better than we could have asked or thought. God's grace and the people's love for my mother was amazing--even in pouring rain! NHK covered the ceremony, though we haven't seen what they showed of it on TV. Apparently they focused on my words about my mother, not those tying Hiroshima do Fukushima. Reporters/photographers from Asahi, Yomiuri and Chugoku newspapers were there, too. Don't know if anything was published but lots of them asked for copies of my speech. Love, J