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What If…

What if this is much ado about nothing? What if there is no difference? What if my white friend is right–that I’m “just American” and the longer I wrestle with my Asian-ness that, the less constructive I can and will be? After all, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ”. And if “Christian” is the ultimate property of my being — how does one slough off other defining characteristics (i.e., male, middle-class, heterosexual, and Asian American)? Are all these issues and bringing them up merely a sinful, Sisyphean exercise to carve myself some property in existential significance? What if this issue of defining a cultural distinctiveness and lens to respond to who Christ was, is, and will be is a non-sequitur?

I’ve heard that one needs to find one’s identity in Christ, not in the world. While confidently calling Christ my savior, I still find this a difficult teaching. Jesus was a Jew, a rabbi, the fulfillment of prophecy, the Messiah, and the hope of the world. Perhaps, as others suggest, my problem is that I do not fully grasp how much of a sinner I am–implying that my preoccupation with my ethnic-specific issues is a mere red herring, a fruitless diversion that I commit myself to,  as though it would make me holy. I confess I’m speechless. I thought that my walk with God had been leading me to this point–towards confession and healing, not away from it.

I look back over my life and my long list of jobs and failures and I don’t know if I could explain how I got this heart. I don’t know if I could re-trace the steps that led me to the understanding that knowing Christ would help me be more myself — the way he made me, born of Asian heritage in America to give glory to my Jewish Messiah, the creator and sustainer of all creation. In my explorations I was just starting to learn the wonder of what God has made me to be, by showing me what I am not.

At a recent Korean youth retreat I attended, in the privacy of our little cabin, I asked a group of young guys the question, “How often do you try to be Korean?” followed by this question for follow-up, “What part of the day do you feel you’re most Korean?” They looked at me confused, all responding the same way — “I’m always Korean. It’s just what I am.”

May being a follower of Christ become that natural to us all. I’m sorry Lord if I make this more about what I am than who you are. Let what I am be who you made me. Be glorified in my satisfaction and wonder of who and how you made me to be.


About David Park

Christian 2nd-generation Korean American; Atlanta Georgia; more details to come.

2 responses to “What If…

  1. elderj

    hmm David… this is good food for thought

  2. djchuang

    I woulda thought that you’d post something more lovey dovey on Valentine’s day, and here I read you having a mini ethnic identity crisis 🙂 Yes, ultimately our rest and identity is in Christ, and that’s what has to shape us at the core. There is such a diversity of cultural values, be it Asian or American or Jewish, the Gospel does give us a way to navigate those differences, and sometimes even to call out the cultural sins and to redeem them. That’s what this ethnic identity issue should involve from my vantage point.

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