Alienation; December 15, 2017

John 1:11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.

I think we generally gloss over this verse, because most of us have not experienced anything near the level of rejection that Jesus did. His own siblings didn’t really accept him until after his resurrection. Alienation is a timeless problem, and many have experienced it to some degree, but none to the degree Jesus did – and He did it for us. That’s why it was so absolutely devastating for Him, in taking our sins on Himself on the cross, to be alienated from God. Already rejected by men, (Isaiah 53:3) for our sake He was rejected by God. (Matthew 27:46) Thankfully, that rejection was taken care of once He had fully atoned for the sins of mankind. However, that had to be more painful even than the physical agony of scourging and crucifixion. I don’t think most of us really grasp that, and therefore we fail to grasp the depth and magnificence of His love for us.

I have had a lifetime of training in this very issue, and recent events have brought that to a head. I was born and raised in Japan, visiting the US at intervals for a total of about 18 years, but to this point have lived 51 years in Japan. I’d say the single, most painful spot in my soul is knowing I will never be accepted as Japanese by the Japanese. 43 years ago, right after I had brought my wife and children to Japan for the first time, we were staying with my parents in Fukuoka, and a representative of the Southern Baptist mission board came for a visit. There were quite a few Southern Baptist missionaries in the Fukuoka area, and we went with my parents to a meeting that was held in a regional restaurant. During that meeting the board representative asked me a serious question. At that point (and it still may well be) the Southern Baptists had the largest Protestant missionary organization in the world. I was asked why MKs (Missionary Kids) from Japan had more emotional/psychological problems than those from any other country. At the time I couldn’t give a good answer, but in the years since I have become convinced of the answer. I went to college at a Baptist school in America, and there were MKs from many countries there. Those from, for example, African countries, loved the country where they were raised, but they didn’t really identify that as their home country. In contrast, I remember two brothers who were born and raised in Argentina who felt totally accepted as Argentine, and because of the Vietnam War that was going on at that point, planned on dropping their US citizenship on graduation, to avoid being drafted. I was in neither category. Though I was born in Japan, that did not grant me citizenship. I identified with Japan to a very high degree and considered it my home, but the Japanese sense of racial/cultural uniqueness excluded me from acceptance. In my one year of high school in the US, one of my nicknames was “Jack the Jap,” because Japan was what I knew and identified with. I didn’t, at the time, recognize what was going on, which was why I was unable to answer the question from the mission board representative. The source of the emotional/psychological problems of Japan MKs is a milder version of the very alienation Jesus experienced. I found out just last night how much of a hindrance that has been to my ministry, when someone explained that my deep-seated anger on that issue has driven people away from the church. (I also found out that my perfectionism has been a real issue, but that is somewhat easier to address.) Japanese are very touched and impressed that my parents chose to be buried in Japan even though they died in the US. It has been painful to me that they express the same feelings when they find I expect to be buried in Japan, and not at all because my parents are buried here. If I am to be fully effective, I have to accept the alienation as part of my cross, knowing it was one Jesus bore, and not let that pain interfere with His love pouring through me to draw people to repentance and faith.

Father, thank You for continuing to work on me. I pray that my past mistakes would not keep me from the fruitfulness You desire for me. There is much going on. Help me release it all into Your hands, allowing You to work in and through me for the sake of the Body of Christ, 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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