Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Non-Western Christianity is where to watch...

 Christian Spirituality has been dominated by western culture throughout history. When I think about the non-western world as it relates to Christian spirituality throughout the last century, I see a purity of passion and purpose. The New Testament is filled with people who were under persecution and were making a passion filled plea for the cause of Jesus. The goal was not to replace Judaism, but to preach it fulfilled through the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Modern third-world countries are living that same plea in the cultures of poverty and oppression today.

I appreciate how Holt agrees with William Dyrness and states, “His point is that Christians in the West can no longer afford to leave out of consideration the contributions and challenges of Christians from these continents. That is, these Christians have both gifts to offer from their own cultural backgrounds and hard questions to ask of the affluent Christians of the West.” The Christians of the world who have not been considered the most affluent of the world are growing exponentially in their discipleship and spirituality. It would stand to reason that the unique expressions of faith they bring to the Kingdom will have a great influence over the years to come.

Last week the Catholic Church installed a new Pope to lead their church. He is the first Pope from any of the Americas. He is also a Latin American from South America. It is the region of the world that is experiencing tremendous Kingdom growth and potential. Pope Frances' leadership is one of humble beginnings with a “common man” approach to relationships. He will highly affect both the Catholic and Protestant Churches in the years to come. There will be new cultural influences in worship, in leadership, in communication, and in style. The movement of influence the world world is gaining from these third-world believers instills a renewed passion and drive for the cause of Jesus.

Dom Helder states, “When I give bread to the poor, they call me a saint; but when I ask why people are poor, they call me a communist.” His statement is still ringing true throughout the world today. It amazes me how we try to fight for justice as if it is the cure, but we are not allowed to discuss the cause for the injustice. An example close to my heart is the cause for the value of life and for the inclusion of people with special needs. The republican party is the political party that supports the pro-life movement. The life inside a woman's womb should have just as much right to life and liberty as anyone has. The democratic party is the political party to advocate for special needs rights and for the support programs for individuals who need the helps. The problem is neither political party sees the need to join these efforts together. 
 
The unborn has a right to be born and it also has the right to live. Barriers are created from greed. The questions comes in asking from where the supports for the child are to be paid for and who is the responsible party for the unwanted child. As a Christian, my heart is in the justice of the life and liberty of that life to live to the fullest potential. Yet, in our political system, the cause of both parties has a fallacy in not joining the goals together.

As parent of children with special needs as well as a parent who has adopted three boys who could have been aborted, my heart knows that government is not the answer. Jesus and the church are the answer. The kingdom of God is a place for the hurting to be healed, the lost to be saved and the saved to grow close to God in faith. It is within this environment where injustices such as the one I mentioned above will find answers. The amazing work of God is that these answers are emerging from the one-third of the world that has been considered the least of the church throughout the ages.
It is through the discernment of the Holy Spirit where believers of all nationalities, race, and gender will see an increase in the purpose of spreading the good news of God. I believe this is why the “pentecostal” movement is so prominent in these non-western countries. Holt states, “The Pentecostal version of Christian spirituality does not depend on learning or wealth; rather, it is simple and experiential.” These non-western countries are not as educated, not as industrialized, or not as technologically advanced. Thus, there is a dependency on the Holy Spirit for guidance and direction. 

As we look back throughout the history of Christian Spirituality, we see this dependence on the Holy Spirit which brings great revivals and change to the Kingdom of God. The call is for all believers to trust in God and to put our faith in him.

Kazon Kitamori of Japan states, “We become united with the pain of God through our pain, and we are united with God through the joined pains.” The church of the west has become dependent on itself and its knowledge while losing it's awe and wonder in the mystical power of God. God is not impressed with our production for a cause. He is impressed with our faith and dependence on him through the progression of hope that is found as injustice is found to be resolved in the name of Jesus.

Seeking to bring peace, grace, and truth to the world around me...you know I love ya, Don
 

Bradley P. Holt. Thirsty for God. (Fortress Press: Minneapolis, 2005)

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