Rediscovering Christ in Christianity and Asia

a writing by Elizabeth Padillo Olesen

Rediscovering Christ in Christianity and Asia

Christianity and Asia! What big names in history and geography and for the future which have to be given attention and reflection. The time is just right!

For what a big name Christianity is which has been claimed to have been given birth in its own cradle, the Asian soil, the largest continent in the created world of the Maker.

What a powerful religion of great challenge Christianity is, as it is set in the contextual soil of Asia, that is, of multi-cultures, multi-races, multi-languages and multi-faiths! And what an irony in its name—a religion that has been historically referred to as having originated from the East, is the same religion that has been transplanted from the West by the power of conquest and domination and grafted into the Asian soil that has made it more strange and foreign!

What symbols has it carried in many Asian lands! Christianity, having posed as a mighty warrior and conqueror of lands and peoples, came with the cross and the sword—two contradicting symbols of humility and violent subjugation. No wonder Christianity in Asia has been associated with the long years of arrogance, of bloody turmoil, of divided communities and of political and economic misery.

Both Christianity and Asia have been gloriously kidnapped and glued with foreign face. How should Christianity and Asia be saved from the clutch of terrible bondage they both are in?

Christianity should go back to its own roots. Christianity should find the living Christ that its own adherents have professed. The Christ of the world must also put on an Asian face, speak the Asian language, and give deep ear to what other faiths the Asian folks have professed.

The Christ of Christianity in Asia must be rediscovered by the Christian churches. The living Christ who preaches and lives in love and justice in humility and acceptance of others, the Christ who espouses radical obedience, the denial of one`s self and the glory of servant hood, the Christ who lives with the people and who gives his own life so that others may live should be affirmed and lived as the way of Christianity in Asia.

Christianity must be stripped of its elegant masks and pretensions and should bring to the open the True Christ. It is the Christ who promised the gift of the Holy Spirit for the renewal of individual lives, the human communities and the total creation. The Christian churches have the responsibility not to espouse Christianity as an empty slogan or a dead religion. They themselves have to go through purging, the experience of the vibrant resurrection and the fire in the Holy Spirit like the dry bones that have been given back to life.

The Living Christ is able to purify Christianity. Christianity should never kidnap or imprison Christ. Neither should it work out that Asia be made as its own prison house. Let Christ rule and head the Asian Christian Church. Let these churches, minority or poor as they are, render radical obedience to the Living Jesus Christ which is not to espouse male dominance over women but recognizes the women`s role and capacities. Let such obedience work out towards putting an end to racial, ethnic, religious, political and economic prejudices and hatred. Let it work out for a sustainable life for all. Let such obedience embrace love and respect for every man and woman, child and youth and for every created being. Let such obedience go through a deep confession for cleansing and forgiving.

The Living Christ should be seen once and for all, the flesh and blood and the bone of Christianity. Without Jesus Christ, Christianity is only an empty man-made sophisticated toy or bomb which is able to endanger Asia. The rediscovery of Christ by the Asian churches, which is a true witness to surrounding communities, brings hope to the Asian soil-the ancient cradle, that should have continued its role to support and nurture human life as in the birth of Jesus and not to serve as the seat of the human destruction in the man-made game of wars that are presently lodged in the Asian lot.

Asia can live in peace with the true symbol of the wooden cross of Christ. The Living Christ cries for Asia over its dictatorial governments, corruption, military control, nuclear boasting, foreign domination, gender violence, flesh trade, enforced poverty, religious intolerance, crash materialism and the awful degradation of its own ecology.

And yet the resurrection of Christ gives witness to the power of God over death and decay and human evils. The resurrection gives breadth to Asia that it should stand again as the land of the Asians to practice love and hospitality to strangers as people among them and not rule over them. The resurrection and the gift of the Holy Spirit towards the building of new communities bring hope, comfort and healing.

Let Asia breathe again as an alive cradle that should continue to sustain and nurture life for everyone who dwells in its soil. Let Christ be seen walking on its ground again, the Christ, who was born, crucified, buried and resurrected. Let the Asian Christian Church experience the true touch of the Risen Lord. And let Christianity cease as mere dead cell but an Asian rooted living organ that should continue to seek to uphold, protect and transform life.

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