February 17, 2017

Genesis 35:2-3 So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes. Then come, let us go up to Bethel, where I will build an altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone.”

It is interesting to me how, ever since reading Cultural and Theological Reflections on the Japanese Quest for Divinity, my eyes have been open to see the theological framework of people in the Bible, especially the Old Testament. I understand how thoroughly Western I have been, despite having been born and raised in Japan. My mono­theistic worldview kept me from recognizing that the Patriarchs, even, didn’t share that worldview. Here we have Jacob telling his household that his God is Boss, so all the others are to be discarded. There’s no telling how many that might have been! What cemented this for Jacob was, as he says here, the fact that God met him, spoke to him, and protected and provided for him. God Himself had to specify that He was almighty (verse 11). Otherwise, all gods were on some sort of sliding scale of power, depending both on locality and the issue in question. Western thinking today tends to see such things as black and white, theist or atheist, but those lines are blurring again today, with “postmodern” culture rejecting absolute truth. The devil is a consummate liar, and he doesn’t care which lie he uses to deceive people, so long as he can keep them from genuine repentance and faith for salvation. The point is, it is very helpful to understand where people are coming from in their understanding of God, but none of that changes the fact that we all need to know our Creator and relate rightly to Him while we have the opportunity to repent and believe, that is, while we are physically alive.

I am only now understanding just how very different my worldview is from those around me. That’s interesting, considering how long I’ve lived in Japan! It’s clear that I don’t have sufficient wisdom to communicate the Gospel effectively on my own, so I’ve got to be actively dependent on the Holy Spirit to do it through me. I need to speak to people where they are, rather than demanding they come up to where I am, and I am not to put them down for where they are! This is why personal testimony is always more effective than theology. It is why Cathy’s friends, especially at her rehab, are opening up remarkably, because they are seeing what it’s like to live with personal faith in a Creator who loves you. The Lord has allowed me to lay down a foundation in this city, and now I need to let Him build on that foundation to raise up a mighty Church of people who are committed to Jesus Christ as Lord. I am not to focus on how wrong people’s current theology/worldview is, but rather allow the Holy Spirit to straighten them out through direct encounters. Nothing else will do the job, but He is up to the task.

Father, thank You for how You are continuing to grow and teach me. May I make the use that You intend of all that You place in me so that I may be a good steward, doing my part in Your plan, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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