The Cross and Culture

There was a level of curiosity being raised through the roof as the keeper of the inn hears the story of the introduction of one stranger to another. The guest of the inn, clearly from the other side of town than his “friend” leaves a look only to be imagined on the hotel manager’s face. Only one day prior, the payor met his floundering acquaintance on the side of the road. His compadre was robbed, beaten out of his clothes and left half dead. Moved with compassion this stranger from the other side of town proceeded to clean him up, gave him a ride and put his lodging cost on his hotel tab. What an unconventional love being displayed towards a stranger.

The parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) gives us a model of what it looks like to love our cross-cultural neighbor as our self. Cross cultural ministry is the tough work of uncomfortable empathy, compassion and love towards a “stranger”. By stranger I’m referring to a person of a different culture. In Andy Crouch’s Culture Maker, he defines culture as “what we make of the world”. He communicates that God creates the world and human beings cultivate what he has made; we are to one degree or another culture makers. From the construction of our houses to fashion preferences to behavioral patterns to various social constructs each one of these things are distinct aspects of culture. To be a faithful cross cultural missionary is to acknowledge that we are engaging human beings that have made different things out of the world than us. However, even though we can acknowledge the differences we leave our comfort zone to love them as we would want to be loved in their circumstance.

For the Christian, the cross of Jesus Christ should serve as an impetus to our pursuit of cross cultural engagement. At the cross Jesus literally became what human beings made within the world as our sin substitute (2 Corinthians 5:21 and Genesis 3 for context). Through the peace accomplished through his blood spilt on the cross (Ephesians 2:13-16) he allows every nation the opportunity to be made in right standing with Him. Lastly, the message of what he did on the cross provides the same eternal hope for every nation, tribe or tongue (Revelation 7:9-12) despite our cultural differences.

Points of Application

Appreciate culture but don’t view it as ultimate – While the forgiveness of sins (1 Corinthian 15:3) is of first importance in the Christian experience. A faithful understanding of a cultural narrative can help a cross cultural missionary create a sense of awareness and compassion as they seek to love their neighbors. An informal resource helpful in understanding the cultural narrative of South Dallas is entitled the “Learn to Serve” South Dallas Project and it was created by a South Dallas based home group of the Village Church Dallas Northway Campus. (Summary –  http://bit.ly/2cmoKBd Full – http://bit.ly/29zr3OX)

View the message of the cross as ultimate while loving the people – Understand the gospel and its implications. A faithful comprehension of what God has done for His people should move you to want to share this message of love to people of every walk of life.

Remember the 2nd greatest commandment (Matt. 22:39) – A lot of cross cultural care is no different than same cultural care. Consider intercessory prayer for your protégé, keeping your promises, seeking to understand before trying to be understood or other ways someone would be a blessing to you. Love your neighbor as yourself.

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