Being a follower of Christ is 24/7 and trumps everything in your life, including your culture. Your old nature and its culture was taken by Jesus Christ, and replaced with a new nature and His culture. As you live out this new identity, you must actively evaluate and change your values, thought-patterns, and actions.
Why Did Jesus Say That?
Jesus told all believers to go into the whole world and make disciples, teaching them to obey all of His commands. Why did Jesus go straight for the moral jugular? Why not just make disciples and then let those disciples adapt and adjust to make it work in their respective cultures? The golden rule is a moral command in most cultures. Why did Jesus command believers to go out make disciples, teaching them to change their thinking and behavior? While there are many answers, one little word steps to the forefront: culture.
Everyone is Cultured!
Your culture is your values lived out. Many of the values are so ingrained that you don't even realize that you have them. To be honest, most of us have to force ourselves to evaluate our own culture. We think, feel, and make decisions based on values that we've learned from our parents, our peers, media, and even our linguistics. Some of our cultural values actually are just raw humanism emanating from our sinful nature, while others have Biblically-moral origins.
We Inherit a Bankrupt Culture
Naturally, the foundation for all of our prejudices, preferences, and culturally-appropriate actions is riddled with the rot of rebellion against God. Of course, all cultures have some semblance of morality, depending on how far they've slipped from the truth of the Bible. But, even the most moral cultures have the Achilles heal of humanism, which conveniently allows for ungodly solutions like abortion, idolatry, and manipulation.
Example: Fear is Cultural Value with Negative Results
In the Philippines, fear is cultural, based on moral beliefs. Fear of doctors and fear of evil spirits are cultural values for many. Parents threaten their children with injections from the doctor. Instead of going to the doctor, some people take their children to spirit-healers who infuse demonic spirits into the children, causing some sicknesses to become medically untreatable. Children are terrorized by demonic apparitions. Fear of offending spirits creates a daily prayer life for many. When they cross a river, dig in the soil, and interact with nature, they talk to the spirits and apologize because they are fearful of being attacked with sickness and death. This culture of fear produces a cycle of appeasement to the demonic spirits, which is a no-win situation.
Each culture in the world has glaring anti-Christ values, as well as truthful values. The challenge for the Christ-follower is to look at his actions and beliefs, in order to discover the truth about his natural culture.
Discovering Your True Culture
There was a day when your culture started to shift. It was the day that you received a born-again spirit and you became the house of the Holy Spirit. On that day, you became a disciple of Jesus Christ, and you began the process of learning God's family culture. It is a life-long task of evaluating your natural-born culture and adjusting to think and act within Jesus' culture. This is the culture that you were created to live out: Consciously and subconsciously obeying Christ in your thoughts, emotions, and activities. We call this process sanctification: the process of sanctifying your culture to be morally pure like God.
Missions and Culture
Here's where the cultural rubber meets the Biblical road. Jesus said, "I am the way (road), the truth, and the life." Missions is not about changing culture, it's about changing lives and changing thinking. But, authentic, Holy-Spirit missions result in changed cultures. The missionary is the not change agent. It's the Holy Spirit training Christ's disciples how to obey Jesus' commands in all life activities. The missionary consistently, lovingly brings the truth and helps the disciple to reflect on and evaluate his current culture. Through this process of learning and reflection, the disciple changes his moral beliefs, resulting in a change in lifestyle. Resulting in Christ-culture.
Change Your Worldview, Change Your Culture
Discipleship is teaching Christians use the Bible to change the system of values and beliefs by which they view their world. People wear corrective lenses in their glasses to view the world clearly. Discipleship is helping the disciple craft correct lenses for viewing his world. Let me ask you a question: Who crafted the lenses that you view your world through?
Evaluate Your Culture
Look at your life choices from a fresh perspective. Ask yourself these questions: Whose moral values define my culture? Where do I need to repent? What cultural assumptions do I have to root out? How can I obey Christ in my thoughts, job, family, church, and neighborhood? As a citizen of Christ's kingdom, how can I conform to Christ's culture?
We're a family on mission to bring the good news of Jesus to the Philippines.