Shan-Tai prayer month 2011, day 1
It was a struggle for Sai Sam to accept Christ because Christians do not have physical idols to worship. Since believing in Jesus, he is no longer consumed with worry. He knows the God he now worships will provide.
(Shan Prayer Guide)
All Shan people grow up Buddhist, a religion characterized by works, karma and reincarnation.
They also believe in other spirits that dwell in the jungle and environment around them. These spirits require offerings to appease them and obtain their goodwill.
When Shan people hear about Jesus Christ it is understandable for them to consider Him to be simply another god and add worship of Jesus to their existing pantheon. However, the lack of any idols in Christianity can be a stumbling block to people who are accustomed to these as an integral part of their worship to any god.
Desiring a physical representation of a god is not unusual. The ancient Israelites also wanted to be able to ‘see’ God and sinned by making a calf idol (see Exodus 32:1-6). And like the Shan, the Israelites also fell into the trap of collecting gods, worshipping numerous deities in the hope of obtaining blessings.
Then the cities of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem will go and cry to the gods to whom they make offerings, but they cannot save them in the time of their trouble. For your gods have become as many as your cities, O Judah, and as many as the streets of Jerusalem are the altars you have set up to shame, altars to make offerings to Baal.
(Jeremiah 11:12–13 ESV)
So we should not mock the Shan poeple for their confusion over how to worship Christ and that He is not at all like the ‘gods’ that humans are accustomed to worship. It is part of common fallen human nature to respond is such a way (see Romans 1:21–23) and shows they need Jesus to open their eyes.
And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.
(Acts 4:12 ESV)
- God to reveal the exclusivity of the Gospel to those who see Christ as one among many gods (see Joshua 24:15, Isaiah 45:18–19).
- Those who are culturally Buddhist to be willing to leave everything behind in order to follow Christ (Luke 9:23–24).