I nearly cried when the immigration officer told us, “Welcome home,” just like I nearly did before.
We are in Oklahoma City, where the freezing temperatures are keeping us bundled. We have been busy seeing sweet friends, drinking coffee to stay awake, and being amazed at the amount of salt this country takes in.
And we’ve been participating in MarkedOKC, where we spent all of Sunday sharing about Partners’ work in Burma. I had an opportunity to speak on Development & Aid, as well as participate in a panel on how to leverage your skills to serve. I will be sharing on Development & Aid again today with partner agencies that helped to host the event on Sunday.
This week is PostMarked, a conference for agencies who participated in the Marked conference. We are able to listen to a number of speakers and network with other agencies. It has been really wonderful, and a great welcome to the States.
Yesterday we had a speaker sharing about the Kingdom of God across cultures, namely from his experience working with Muslim communities around the world. He discussed our world views and the five factors that determine our own worldview–which, research shows, is determined by the age we are four.
One of the factors determining our worldview is epistemology, or what knowledge is and how it is acquired. In essence, it is how we answer the question, How do I know what I know?
In the West, we know what we know through education. We value reasoning, logic, and what we have learned in research and education. In the East, knowledge comes through experience, particularly the experience of family and relationships.
Our speaker gave an example of Western missionaries going to share Christ in the East that loosely went like this: we usually go to bible school, load ourselves up with apologetics, surveys of Scripture, and systems of theology. We load our guns full of education, arguments, and doctrines, rushing over to reason the case of Christ.
And then our friends in the East, they take our gun of information, and they bend it into a circle. Because really, it doesn’t matter if logically this leads to this and makes this absolute truth, because my father told me this.
Logic is not value, information and proof is irrelevant. And education for the sake of argument is weak.
He continued to share about the importance of building relationships that become bridges strong enough to hold truth, something that takes great amounts of time.
This is something we have seen day in and day out where we are and in our community; it was refreshing to hear it put into words. But what really struck me is this:
The West is so focused on reasoning and information.
The East loves relationship, and to us, what seems ridiculously illogical.
And if we look at Scripture, we see more of the illogical. We see more relationships. We see things that seem paradoxical; we see things that counter our logical arguments. We see so much grey.
So really, Scriptures seem more Eastern-culture. And while that isn’t surprising if we consider where most of Christian history took place, it is surprising that the West is primarily “Christian” in today’s society.
To me, this explains why we in the West struggle so much with Scripture. We struggle so much to find points that meet our arguments and work into our logic. But really, Scripture and Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit seem to fit more in the bent, circular gun that values relationship.
And further, this showed me what an opportunity we have to live where we do. We have the privilege of attempting to live out the stories of Scripture in the East, where their lives can show us Scripture. They can show us the culture of Christ. They can ignore time constraints to value a person, and exemplify for us what we see Christ do on countless occasions. They can show us the hierarchical systems, giving us a glimpse into the drastic acts of love that Christ portrayed to the poor & lowly.
They can wreck our limits of logic and show us the beauty of relationships, while we wreck their limits of false gods and show them the power of our God.