I have been told the Christian church in Japan has an image problem. People who attend church in Japan are seen as people who have something wrong with them, something they can’t fix on their own. Attending a Christian church is admitting to society that you cannot deal with your own problems.
How ironic that the Japanese view of the church is more accurate than our own! Sometimes we see ourselves as the healthy ones and the world as the sick. But Jesus tells us in Matthew 9:
“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
The truth is that we are no more righteous than non-Christians; the difference is we recognize our need for help. What non-Christians in Japan are failing to see is that there is no shame in admitting that many things in our lives are too great for us to overcome on our own. Only by God’s unconditional love and unfathomable power can we be healed.
The real shame is people trying to get better on our own. Like a terminally ill person refusing medical treatment and trying to will himself back to health with the power of his own mind, the results can be tragic. Only this time, the stakes are eternal.
How much more effective witnesses could we be if we stopped judging people for their poor life decisions and instead extended compassion, lovingly convincing them there is no shame is asking for God’s help?