|Christ, Death of
Christ, Death of
by Rubel Shelly
Published in LoveLines (Feb. 22, 1995)
The Peace Child
When the gospel is communicated from culture to culture, appropriate words and metaphors must be found. Saying that the blood of Jesus "cleanses white as snow" may communicate with you — but not with someone in a tropical region. The same sort of sensitivity with language must always be kept in mind in translating and teaching the Word of God.
Occasionally one enters a culture only to find a key concept that carries the message of Christ beautifully and powerfully. In his book Peace Child, Don Richardson tells of such a discovery he and his missionary team made.
Working among the Sawi people of Iraian Jaya, they were patiently searching for a culture-appropriate way to tell the story of Jesus. They spent many months in prayer and research. Then the Lord gave them the answer they had been seeking.
Richardson learned that all demonstrations of kindness among the Sawi were regarded with suspicion — with one notable exception. If a father gave his own son to an enemy, his deed of ultimate sacrifice was deemed proof that he could be trusted completely. Furthermore, anyone who ever touched that child was thereafter held to be at peace with his father.
What a powerful picture of the central event of the divine drama. With their knowledge of the "peace child" and his significance to the Sawi, Richardson proceeded to explain the gospel against that background.
God the Father delivered his beloved Son to us while we were still living as rebels, sinners, and enemies. What an absolutely breathtaking act! It is an act of sacrifice that cannot be explained on the basis of obligation. It is sheer grace. How can we doubt the sincerity of such a love?
And everyone touched by the Son is at peace with his Father forever. It is not in the his heart to reject anyone who has been accepted by the Son. Anyone whose name the Son confesses before his Father will be accepted for his sake. How could anything be simpler or clearer?
"For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation" (Rom. 5:10-11).
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