20 June 2014 by Jason Law CM –
Dr Joseph Ozawa is a man with an impressive record as a psychologist. He has consulted diverse organizations through many capacities including governments, private companies, and NGOs. As a psychologist, he has a wide area of ministry and he has done post-crisis interventions/training in such countries as Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Rwanda and South Africa.
Amidst this impressive record as a psychologist, however, as a former licensed Anglican pastor, Dr Ozawa’s deepest passion remains bringing revival to the Kingdom of God globally, with a special focus on the South-East Asian region. Dr Ozawa possesses a captivating sense of humour, and a talent to present deep and tough issues of the spiritual life in a refreshingly honest and down-to-earth manner.
On the 13th-15th of June, 2014, he spoke at a church camp in Kinta Riverfront Hotel, Ipoh, about discipleship and what it truly takes to be one with Christ. In order to be a follower of Christ, we must understand who He is and what He actually said about discipleship.
‘The first question Christians must ask themselves is ‘Who is Jesus to me’?’, Dr Ozawa opened the first session. Dr Ozawa demonstrated that each of us has a preconception of who Jesus is, and there is nothing wrong with this. However, the actual individuality of Jesus is in fact larger than anything the human mind can encompass.
Many of us know Him as a Friend and Father, with the image of Him carrying children lovingly on His shoulders; a few others know that He is capable of a fierce holy anger. But the Bible also tells us that He is the King of Kings that will return on the Judgment Day with fire in His eyes. He is each of these and all of them at the same time; He is both the Lion and the Lamb.
‘The second question we need to ask ourselves is ‘Who do I say I am as a follower of Jesus? Who am I?’ This is a more difficult question. But you see, the question is, what does it mean to be a Christian or a follower of Jesus?’ When Jesus came into Jerusalem, very few people (including the disciples) actually really knew who Jesus was. This is actually a very Biblical truth, that very few people in fact really know who Jesus is (John 8:12-30; John 12:16), even today.
‘’Do I know who Jesus is?’ Sometimes I think I know and sometimes I think I don’t know. There are times when I think I know who He is only to find out that I don’t actually know. When the early Israelites expected a King of kings and a Lord of lords, He came into Jerusalem on a donkey. People expected Him to have political power, economic power, social power, etc and to overthrow the Romans.
'And to many Christians even today, this is also what they expect Christianity to mean; to be a Christian is to have all these powers. The Israelites expected Him to have all these powers and then He ended up on the Cross,’ Dr Ozawa shared. What would be our reaction if we lived in those days?
But then, instead of dying, He rose again, and instead of people conquering Him, He conquered the world. Instead of His enemies getting rid of Him, He came back in Glory. And when the disciples expected Him to conquer the world physically for good this time, He rose to Heaven again after 40 days. While Jesus promised to come back very shortly (John 14:1-3; Acts 1:10-11), the disciples did not see this in their lifetimes.
Jesus did things that were extraordinarily radical and out of the human confine, and the Disciples must have often been confused and did not know what to expect. What did it take to be His disciples even in those days?
'[In 1 Corinthians 11:1], Paul said “Follow my example, as I follow Christ”. The only problem is, Paul’s life was miserable. He was tortured, beaten, everybody hated him, and he was often at the end of his line. The thing about Jesus is that He did not just teach; whatever He taught, He did, and Paul followed the example. That is the nature of faith, and often, what it takes to be a disciple of Christ. The problem with many Christians is we teach, but we do not do what we teach,’ Dr Ozawa pointed out.
When Jesus spoke about the Second Birth with Nicodemus, he said something very pointed in John 3:8:
“The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
For many figures in the Bible, this was very much the case. Their lives were submissive to every direction from God. When Abraham was called to move to the land that God had promised Him, he was venturing out to a completely foreign land and leaving behind everything that he had ever knew, but he obeyed without questioning.
When Noah was asked to built the Ark, he did not question God. He just obeyed. For the Israelites of the Exodus, their every step was directed by God. Dr Ozawa pointed out that there are 4 keys to empowerment:
1. ENQUIRE of the Lord;
2. LISTEN to the answer from Him;
4. CHECK that what we’re doing is consistent with the Bible.
This, however, is not easy and requires a lot of faith, trust, and discipline.
‘The other thing is Jesus came to seek the hurt and the lost. He did not come for those who do not need His help. I know a lot of people who don’t feel lost. They have everything figured out, they are very smart, and Jesus did not come for them. He came for people who were really in trouble, people who were lost, people who really need help.
'If you do not need help, you’re self-sufficient and do not need Jesus. As Christians, we need to look for those who are hurt and lost and bring restoration to the broken-hearted (Isaiah 61). We must love them in the way Jesus loves them (John 15:12),’ Dr Ozawa shared. That is the core of the Great Commission and the call of discipleship. It is also a great encouraging reminder when we ourselves feel hurt and lost.
This is very often what it is truly like to take up the Cross of Christ in this world; it amounts to dying to ourselves. The Christian journey is not an easy one, and the Kingdom of God is primarily a Spiritual one. How could we do this through our own strength? It is the reason why we must trust and depend on our Father at all times, and the rewards, though not of the system of this world, are great and everlasting. Some of His answers may not be the ones you want to hear but they are based upon His amazing purpose for your life.
Ask yourself these two questions, who is God to you and what it is to be a follower of Christ? If we truly trust Him, then we should be ready to ask, listen and obey Him no matter what the answer may be, knowing wholeheartedly that whatever the circumstances may be He will be there with us.
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References for pictures
NOTE: Pictures of church camp courtesy of Kajang Assembly of God