I am currently reading a book called, “Love Walked Among Us: Learning to Love Like Jesus” by Paul E. Miller. It’s the kind of book that will hit you between the eyes and make you cry, “Yes, that’s me, failing to love people AGAIN. Lord, help me to love like Jesus.” Of course, I tend to read books with my “Japan grid,” always wondering how this would pan out in Japanese culture. Here are a few excerpts from the book followed by a question I wrote for myself to help me to apply these truths in my life.
Jesus Teaches Us How to Look
“In the parable of the Good Samaritan, the Samaritan sees a person. The priest and the Levite see a problem. They are too distracted, preoccupied, or agenda-driven to identify with him.” Do I stop, look, and actively try to identify with the Japanese?
Looking is Risky
“Why are so many of us like the priest and the Levite? Why do we look away from hurting people? We have many reasons. The hassle. The dirt. The risk. The cost. The commitment…I’m focused on my agenda, my thoughts, and my feelings rather than on the other person. To be lovers of people, we must stop look and listen.” Do I tend to be so focused on my agenda and my feelings that I don’t stop and look and listen to the hurting Japanese people around me?
Two ways of seeing (John 9:1-7 – Healing the man born blind)
“The disciples automatically judge the man for his blindness. In their cultural grid, either he or his parents messed up. They just need Jesus’ help to categorize him…the disciples see an item for debate; Jesus sees a person…Jesus sees a story half-told, with the best yet to come…Compassion affects us. Maybe that’s why we judge so quickly – it keeps us from being infected by other people’s problems. Passing judgment is just so efficient. Judging is knee-jerk, quick, and bereft of thought, while compassion is slow and thought-filled. Judging separates and thus, destroys community; compassion unites and creates community. Compassion and judging are two different ways of “seeing.” Do I tend to “see” Japanese people more by judging their ways and their culture or showing them compassion?
I readily admit my failure to love the Japanese by failing to look, failing to step out of my comfort zone, failing to pray for my friends, etc. May the Holy Spirit work in us, growing in our hearts a deep compassion for the Japanese who are “harried and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” I imagine I am not alone in longing to learn what it means to to die to self, stop judging and evaluating Japanese culture (which can drive me totally nuts, I freely admit), and learn what it means to be a servant.
I’ll close with some thoughts from my mentor, Edie, who I mentioned in my previous post. She is a true servant of God and teaches me what it means to be one. She writes, “Love God first and get that relationship right with Him. Love the Japanese and come to Japan with a servant heart. Serve them as Jesus has served us, freely, generously and sacrificially.”
She also adds that we need patience as we seek to love the Japanese. Relationships take time, often years, until Japanese are willing to trust and share their real heart struggles. “It has taken many years to develop friendships built on trust with Japanese people. Over these many years, both my Christian and non-Christian friends often come to me for counsel and/or advice. They know I love them and care for them because over the years I have tried to show them Christ’s love in many ways. I don’t always understand them perfectly but they know I love them, pray for them and with them. I’m very grateful for the hundreds of friendships He has given me with Christians and non-Christians…Yes, it helps to know the language but love and God’s grace overrule in any language barrier.”