Sharing the Message of Jesus in Japan - Part II

Sharing the Message of Jesus in Japan - Part II

Earlier this month, I talked about some of the principles that are most important when sharing the good news of Jesus with the people of Japan. Today, I thought I would share a concrete example of what this can look like. It’s taken from a short talk that I gave at last year’s Christmas party. I’ve similar talks a few times since, and have been told by several people that this approach has gone straight to their hearts.

Where necessary, I have included a few notes of explanation about the Japanese culture in footnotes below.

—————

“Why do we celebrate Christmas?”

Since the attendance of most of our outreach events at Christmas is mixed between people who are and aren’t Christians, usually at least one person knows the answer. 

“Jesus was born.”

“That’s right. And today I want to share with you about why Jesus was born.

“Jesus [1] is the God who made everything—the sun, the birds, the trees, the mountains, and human beings. [2]

“Human beings are very special to Him. He made them with a specific purpose in mind. You see, He thinks of Himself as our Father, and He loves us like His children. 

“Many years ago, God tried to communicate with human beings. He tried to tell them about their purpose, and to show us how much He loves us. At that time, He used indirect communication. He sent people called prophets to tell people about their purpose. However, there was a problem. People did not understand God’s plan.

“I’m a Canadian, and sometimes living in Okinawa can be a challenge. Canadians are used to direct communication. Sometimes we talk indirectly, but most of the time we’re direct. However, Okinawan people tend to communicate indirectly. Sometimes their communication is vague and this means that I don’t understand what they are trying to say to me. However, Okinawan people are very kind. If they see that I don’t understand their communication style, they will change and speak more directly. Then I can understand what they’re trying to say. [3]

“Like Okinawan people, Jesus is also kind. He saw that human beings didn’t understand His plan. He saw that they didn’t understand their purpose or His love. So He, too, changed His communication style. He decided to come and speak to people directly. 

“How could He do this? He decided to enter human history, be born as a human baby, and directly tell human beings about their purpose—to be loved as His children and have a spiritual father-child relationship with Him.

“That’s why we celebrate Christmas: because it’s good news. It’s the time when God, in His kindness and love, came to tell us about our life purpose. It’s the time when we were finally able to understand why we exist. 

“In Okinawa, you believe that all human beings are brothers and sisters in the human family. But the truth is even better than that. We celebrate Christmas because it’s the time when Jesus invited us to join His family—the family of God. Jesus promised us that when we seek Him, we will find Him when we seek Him with our whole hearts. [4] ...and that’s why Christmas is good news.”

 

Notes

[1] At the beginning, I usually try to use “Jesus” rather than the more-generic “God”. In Japanese the word for God (神様; “kah-mee-sah-mah”) is used all over the place, for all sorts of different gods. I want to set Jesus apart as different.

[2] In Shinto, one of Japan’s major religions, people worship many elements of nature as gods, including the sun goddess (Amaterasu), mountains, and so on. I’m careful to mention some of the things that people worship as gods in the list of things that Jesus has made, to show His authority even over the gods the Japanese traditionally worship.

[3] To understand the continuum of directness and indirectness, it can be helpful to compare a few different cultures that most Canadians have come into contact with. Imagine talking to an American, for example. Many Americans tend to speak more directly than Canadians. Remember that slightly-uncomfortable feeling you get when an American approaches something very directly and you would rather be a bit more vague? That’s because you tend to communicate more indirectly than many Americans. For those of you who are American, you might experience a similar discomfort when you talk to someone from Holland. People from Holland tend to be more direct than Americans. Okinawans swing the other way. They are less direct than Canadians, but they can still speak directly when required. However, this is slightly uncomfortable for them. Japanese people tend to speak even more indirectly than Okinawans.

[4] Matthew 7:7-8, Jeremiah 29:13

 

Related Posts

Sharing About Jesus in the East

Sharing the Message of Jesus with Japanese Stoics

 

(Picture Source)

blog comments powered by Disqus