Monday, November 7, 2005

From knowing to understanding: The missional work of Sundar Singh in India

Sundar Singh, a preacher in India in the early 1900's, and the people of Cascade Hills have a lot in common. Specifically, we are all domestic missionaries, born in the local culture and radically changed by God's intervention in our lives. Having named Jesus Christ as our Savior, we have joined Him in His mission to reach out to a hurting and broken world, starting with the people immediately before us: the people across the street, in our marketplaces and neighborhoods.

In a recent article over at Christian History & Biography, an article talks about Sundar Singh and the radical impact he made on the people of India. It was because of his ability to take the radical message of the gospel and make it indigenous--that is, not bound up in the cultural trappings of Western Europe:
In hundreds of villages where he preached, this connection between local religious traditions and the Christian gospel made a crucial difference to his audience. In one instance, nine Hindu listeners, now ready for baptism after seeing and hearing him, stood and proclaimed, "We knew all about Christ for the last 20 years from the European missionaries; but now we understand truly that He is the only Savior."
Right here in south Salem, we find people with very much the same difficulty: they have heard just enough about Christ to think they want nothing to do with Him or his church. This is the old saying about our culture being "innoculated" against Christianity. Like a vaccine by which the body builds up an immunity against a virus through exposure to its weak and dying form, many people in our culture have been exposed fleetingly to a weak and dying form of Christianity, causing them to reject it as having anything to do with the real world or their own lives.

Like Singh, it is our task at Cascade Hills to take the radical message of the gospel and make it real. That means that we must hear the gospel again for the first time, not confusing it with the cultural trappings of 20th century American Christianity (which is merely one example of gospel-meets-culture). May we be useful instruments in the hands of a God expert in confronting and transforming all the cultures of this world, and may He establish among us a lasting community that reflects the power of the gospel!

1 comment:

Alien Shaman said...

I like the innoculation line, I think it is very accurate. Good luck with your teaching.