Â Pastor Santar Singh is a Punjabi Christian and the Pastor of Khush Khabri Fellowship. He was a devout follower of Sikhism till he had an encounter with Jesus and was filled with the Spirit of the living God.View all articles by Santar Singh
It is an oft-heard criticism on the part of genuinely open-minded agnostics and skeptics that Christianity, far from being universal and absolute truth, is a western tradition, a product of Western civilization. According to this perception of the Christian faith, Christians are merely followers and proponents of one particular world-view – in this case western – that is just as legitimate as another originating from other cultural traditions.
Indeed, in the post-colonial era it has become almost fashionable among Asians in particular to dismiss Christianity as nothing more than a Western philosophy whose relevance to Asians is at best limited and at worst unwanted.
At first glance, it's easy to see how this misconception of equating Christianity with the West could have come about. Historically, Christianity spread from Jerusalem, through the Mediterranean to Europe. So people tend to think that every Westerner is a Christian and every Christian wants to be a Westerner.
The confusion could also arise due to the common tendency of some converts to change their names to English or Biblical names. This again can be misunderstood by some to mean that in becoming Christian one is also becoming a Westerner.
Thus it is immediately obvious how in some post-colonial settings becoming a Christian is equated with no more than an unfavorable submission to western influence. India's political past, for instance, does not have good memories of the Colonial masters. The Christian missionaries who accompanied the British Raj still linger in the Indian mind as western imperialists. The British Empire was not a representative of Christianity.
But what does Jesus have to tell us about such attitudes towards following Him? It's clear from His own words that faith in the one true God was meant to be a universal inheritance that no one culture can claim ownership over.
Jesus said: "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." - Matthew 7:21
While it is understandable that the Indian finds it hard to differentiate Christianity from the West, the teachings of Christ clearly state that faith in Him does not make one a Westerner but only a citizen of heaven.
"But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ..." - Philippians 3:20
Jesus was not a white man. He was a Jew, born in Bethlehem. How can Christ make us Westerners when He was a Middle-Easterner? Furthermore, Christ admonished his disciples from the very outset to take the good news of the Gospel to "all the ends of the Earth."
We must redress this misconception that becoming a Christian means becoming a Westerner. The West needs Christ as much as the East. Today if you would put your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, it will never change your nationality but one thing is for sure...Jesus will change your eternal destiny.
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." - John 14:1 - 3