Shusaku Endo, widely acclaimed as Japan's finest modern novelist, penned Silence, a haunting story raising questions about Western religious assumptions concerning Jesus and the gospel. Emerging from his dual (and unique) identity as a Japanese Catholic, Endo used his novels and essays to push forward these core beliefs: Jesus' story was not imprisoned by the West, and essential to the gospel is its power to embody anew Japan's people, and all people. "Unless there is in [Christianity] a part that corresponds to Japan's mud swamp," said Endo, "it cannot be a true religion."
Though Endo wrestled with the implications (and though not all agree with the way Endo worked it out), he insisted on one of Christianity's most elemental assertions: the incarnation, the fantastic belief that God came and lived as a human. Jesus met us in ways we could comprehend. Jesus became, for us, a God we could touch.
When Jesus appeared in first-century Palestine, He didn't come as a mist or mirage. He was not some form of alternate consciousness. Rather, Jesus came as a man with a name; and He came to particular people, other human beings with names and stories all their own.
Jesus was most often found with people, participating in their life: attending parties (John 2), eating with the hungry (Luke 9), telling stories to anyone who cared to listen (Mark 4). Then, when Jesus met His friends after the cross, He (again) "was standing there among them," as He always had (John 20:19). Even more, "He showed them the wounds in His hands and His side" (v.20). Physical. Present.
Along with Endo, Christians proclaim that Jesus comes to all people. We believe in, and have experienced, a Jesus who comes near, a Jesus standing here, with us. Right beside us. , Winn Collier, Our Daily Journey
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