Mission and King Louie

No not Louie XVI or the Rapper but the one from the Jungle Book. This King Louie famously sang, “I want to be like you oo oo!” It seems to me that often in the West, and mission (not only from the West) turns that around and says, “I want you to be like me ee ee!”

Christians are often accused of imposing their views on other people, missionaries doubly so. This is sometimes a justified accusation but sometimes it is simply an aggressive reaction to a simple sharing of the Gospel. Much of mission training is to convince students that mission and planting churches is not about reproducing our own culturally appropriate (or inappropriate) models of church in other places.

Because the modern mission movement emerged from the Western European church it shared much of the West’s expansionist elements. This can be illustrated by seeing how Western politicians and song-writers see the establishment of peace. As much as I love and respect US President Barack Obama, his response to the Paris atrocities demonstrates this. He said,

“This is an attack not just on Paris, it’s an attack not just on the people of France, but this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values that we share.”

John Lennon expresses the the same attitude perfectly in his anthem “Imagine,’

You may say I’m a dreamer, But I’m not the only one, Maybe some day you’ll join us, I the world will be as one.

The simply way that the world can be as one, is by you joining us. You need to become like us for the world to be as one.

This attitude divides the world into “them and us” categories, much loved by media all over the world. This is an attack on “all of humanity and the universal values we share”. There are bad people; i.e. those who carry out these attacks and there are good people; i.e. those who share our “universal values”. Whose values? What values? Well the answer is simple; my values.

I believe there are very many people in the world who do not share my values. Many of them are good people as well.

Mission is not people becoming like me but they, and I becoming more like Jesus Christ.