Last Chapters cont’d

23/Apr/2011

The next chapter is about self-worth and how it is gained in a culture. In some cultures, self-worth or status is ascribed. It is not really something you change but something you are born into. If your parents were thieves then, obviously, you will be a thief. In some cultures status is something to strive for and it is achieved. I think most cultures are a mix of both but have a tendency toward one more than the other.

I think this is one of most difficult chapters to live. (like the others haven’t, right?) But here’s the thing: You have to recognize how your culture does things, learn the new culture and then try to change the way they view status. You aren’t trying to make them see that your way is better but that God’s way is. We ALL need to change the way we view status and how it is achieved. This is SO hard to remember and SO hard to live! How do you teach someone else this?!?!? However, that is God’s plan. That through His  Spirit and each other, we learn how to truly live for Him. What is our status? We can choose to be either children of God and live for Him and His Kingdom or we are children of this earth and live for earthly things and status. Children of the devil, really.

As children of God, we are to put others ahead of ourselves. We aren’t striving for better status or more earthly things because we have the best status there is. It is not achieved by anything we can do and it is not ascribed to us because of our family lineage or our past. It is ascribed to us sheerly by God’s grace and mercy. We belong to Him and our homeland is heaven. In the Kingdom of Heaven, we are to serve God with all our hearts and serve each other. We don’t look to our own needs but we take care of each other and put others first. This is so completely other. The tension between what we’ve been taught all our lives and what God wants for us is so strong. Again, it is hard to live, let alone teach!

Whew! I feel like I should stop there. That’s enough.  =o) BUT there are a couple more chapters.

The next one is about vulnerability. Are you willing to show your vulnerability for the possibility of success or do you hide your vulnerability at all costs at the risk of not accomplishing anything? This is something I had never really considered before. In America, we love the underdog so much that we are always hoping for that last-minute win. Also, we have the belief that finishing has a certain dignity in it no matter how imperfect the finish. However, some cultures consider this a losing of face of sorts. An example Mayers used was a baseball game that was a landslide and the losing team walked off the field halfway through. They had lost enough and were finished. Because of this mindset, this culture is less open to new ideas and ways of doing things due to their fear of failure.

The important thing we learn from the life of Christ is that we need to have a decent balance (does that sound familiar) of vulnerability and cautiousness. You need to know your weaknesses and guard against them but also embrace your weaknesses to show that only Christ is strong. This can also be seen in the way different cultures approach confrontation. In our culture, it is seen as weakness to have a mediator or to let someone else “do your dirty work.” However, in other cultures, it is a way for the person being confronted to save face. This is an important thing to learn before you burn bridges by confronting someone in what will be seen as an offensive way.

I think the thing to come away with from this book is the importance of taking the time to truly understand your own culture and the culture you are wishing to enter. Understand the differences and that they are each valid. Don’t just jump in and take over assuming your way is better or that the other is inferior.

Enter the new culture as a child learning for the first time. Try to set aside your own culture in a way that you can be assimilated (that word is for WV) by the new one.

Then, remember the goal is not to just trade one culture for another but to learn the culture well enough to point the people to Christ and how He wants us to live. You won’t be effective if you ignore the culture but remember that the real hope is to show them that Christ wishes us to live outside all societal norms and live for Him and His Kingdom. This requires dependence and unwavering trust in God and His Word.

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One Response to “Last Chapters cont’d”

  1. Annette Nelson said

    I enjoyed reading what you had learned through the book. Understanding our own culture might help reach those around us here in the states too. I am excited to hear more of what you are learning and the amazing ways God is going to use you for His Kingdom. Love and Prayers, Annette

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