i am writing to you as a fellow asian american. i am writing to you as a fellow believer in Jesus through whom i also believe we share a special bond and understanding.
i’ve been meaning to write this letter for some time. i know it is not common in our custom to address issues head on but i am compelled by the model of our prophets and our master, Jesus, to call things out in our community, in us, in me before we find it is too late. i believe we as a people have developed a blind spot in our faith: we are ignoring Jesus in ignoring the least of these.
yes, i know i am speaking in generalizations. there are certainly exceptions. there are those fellow asian american brothers and sisters who are suffering in poverty and isolation as perpetual foreigners in america. there are those of our asian american brothers and sisters who are laying down their lives to love the least, the last, the lost. however, please, let us not be so quick to make ourselves (myself included) the exception. let us take the time to fully consider the ramifications that we as a race in america are the most educated and most wealthy of all. and from the ones much has been given much will be required.
why, am i saying that we are ignoring Jesus? i’ve pretty much grown up in the asian american church and have been cared for so well by my family in Christ. however, in the past four years through my study of scripture, I have become convinced, that loving those in need is ESSENTIAL to being a follower of Jesus and is a fruit of true salvation. by those in need i don’t simply mean those within our family, friends, and race (who even non-believers know to love) who may periodically be in such a place but rather those beyond our family, friends, and race (the people we don’t consider our “neighbors”) who may persistently be in such a place. sadly, this kind of love has not been the tenor of what i was taught from the pulpit or modeled in the lives of my asian american brothers and sisters in the fellowships that i’ve been a part of.
what does loving those in need, those that are different from us, have to do with ignoring Jesus? there is a terrifying passage found in matthew 25:31-46 that captures much of what i am addressing. Jesus says that we will be in for a rude awakening when we see Him on that day to discover that in ignoring the hungry, the thirsty, the foreigner, the naked, the sick, and the prisoner we have ignored Jesus. He says “Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” so closely does Jesus identify with the least in society that to disregard them is tantamount to insulting Jesus himself.
we, as asian americans, work so hard to not find ourselves in such situations of need (which is a great thing) that we get as far away as we can from those who still find themselves in such situations of need (which is NOT the mission of Jesus). i believe we as asian american believers have been so careful not to commit sins of commission (doing bad) that we have fallen into the sins of omission (neglecting good). Unfortunately, the consequence for such neglect is not just a slap in the face to Jesus, it is eternal damnation! again, i must clarify that i don’t believe Jesus is saying we must do good works to be saved but rather that we are saved to do good works. good works is not the root of our salvation but it is the fruit of our salvation. if we claim to know Jesus, we must know the heart of Jesus.
i am saying this just as much to myself as i share this with you.
i am grieved.
yet, i am hopeful. i am amazed by the way our people care for our own families. the sacrifices our parents make to see we are provided for. i am a recipient of such love and hope to love my children in such a manner. I believe God has put that into our culture.
but what if we obeyed Jesus and loved our neighbors in need like our own families? what if we loved our neighbor’s children as we did our own?
then the kingdom of God has come upon us.
let us not ignore the cries of the least of these. let us not ignore Jesus.