"You have allowed the world to mold you, you are a product of your culture, not mine. I recreated you to be formed into my image, not the one you cling to. Shed your culture, shed your old ways, free yourself from the world, the flesh and sin. The culture you honor is the one to which you will be conformed. I have a better plan for you; Transformation in the image....of ME."It wasn't rebuke. It was encouragement to examine myself and to put off the old for the new. This is a process I have been in for a very long time.
Yet, I have to admit, my cultural roots have potholes, dangers and traps that if I allow them to manifest above the culture of the new creation I was destined to be transformed into, I will never reach the destiny HE planned for me when he redeemed me.
I am culturally northern European, German and Norwegian. I speak pretty good German, and almost no Norwegian. I am white as white can be. I love the culture of my ancestors. I have read, studied, learned from and honored the Germanic heritage I enjoyed when I lived there. Spent more time in Museums, Churches and old castles than you can imagine. I have a family tree (Stambuch) that goes back to the middle 1200s in Estonia (Then a German outpost). The LUTHERAN church my family built 100 years after the reformation (late 1500s) still stands in the little town of Naugard in what was then Pommerania Germany, now Poland. The Pommeranian Christians adopted Luther's teachings more quickly than much of the rest of Germany. I have photos of this. This is a lot of history, culturally and spiritually.
The Farms from my mothers side in Fatland Norway still stand. I have relatives there to this day. My Grandmother came to the USA in the 1900s at the age of 13. One of my distant Norwegian relatives was the Violinist Ole Bull. Looking at his picture reminds me of this connection even to this day.
I can trace back my ancestry even for the last two centuries precisely. I know who I am. I know what my history is. That should make me stronger, right? My family name is a big deal.
Yet in all this there is a trap. I have been informed by my culture who I am supposed to be in the culture (the world), not in Christ. The two are in opposition to one another.
My eyes were opened to this truth last week, my culture can become my enemy. I began to see that it's true for every culture, every historical paradigm, every root. They are good to know so we can be effective in rejecting the chains that bind us to a past that would keep us from our destiny. What we came from can hold us there.
Hispanics have cultural things that keep them in bondage. I work with them. They are great people, but until they are set free from the cultural inhibitions of who they think they are and should be, they cannot reach their potential.
I worked for a while in Japan. Japan has been hard for the Gospel to invade. The issue is the Culture. They are steeped in a cultural framework, much of it good, that makes become a new creation difficult.
Europe is a dead pool spiritually, mostly because of a culture.
Arab cultures informed by the Muslim religion is very hard to break out of. Almost impossible.
In African countries, there IS a willingness to break free from a destructive culture in many cases and the complete changes that take place in people's lives is remarkable.
In China because much of their culture was destroyed in the cultural revolution, the ability to come out into the newness of Christ is easier it seems.
This is much less the case in the USA. The African American, the Black Culture, which has much good about it, has also cultural presses, cultural molds that if as a black man or woman you break out, as you are conformed to the image of Christ, you can find the divergence difficult. The peer pressure will be too much to take. For that reason, changing the culture in the black community has been less than a successful venture. Those things destructive in the culture seem to persist more than they should.
What I find interesting is, I have come to embrace much of what I see and hear as I spend more and more time in the culture. I have come to love Gospel music. I find much else not very uplifting. I love the purity and depth of good preaching and teaching such as I hear from many of my Apostolic friends and associates. I don't hear much of that in the Churches I frequent less and less. I love the LOVE of the people. Accepting. There is much in this that is culturally different from my roots, it IS conformed to the image of Jesus. In my vision, this is what it must have been like to be among the 5000 hearing Jesus speak and engaging in whatever worship existed. Pure. Love. Truth.
YET, the cultural bias that comes with this has the potential to mold people in ways that only perpetuate a lifestyle that destroys it's destiny.
Here's what I believe the Lord is saying in all this. We must come to HATE our culture. Turn our backs on our culture. Not to embrace another worldly culture (which I am in danger of doing) but to press toward our high calling, to come out from among them, to become a holy people, a Royal priesthood, peculiar to the world (culture).
I know who I am, I know where I came from. I don't know if I am wise enough to know what to embrace or reject from those cultural roots. I don't know if anyone is. We must learn to hate that which we think is our culture and become conformed...to HIM.
Anything less is double-minded. OR as John Eckhardt would call it--- Schizophrenic .
Come out from among them..that is your culture.