Living Beyond our Culture is a Choice
Living beyond our Culture is about the choices we make. Everyday we choose who we are and what we say and how we interact with the world around us. We can choose to be a reflection of Christ and his teachings or we can choose to reflect our society’s trending behaviors and emotions. Or we can just choose to reflect us, the us that is our past, or our present, and all of its pain and heartaches.
Living beyond our Culture is crucial for our spiritual growth. Stretching ourselves to live beyond our personal preferences, can tear down walls between us and God and others. It could be the greatest step towards our living in the fullness of God.
** The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; ** Luke 11:34b
If we, as Christians, try to live in two cultures at once, it will dim our light. We will experience an inner conflict between two worlds: ours and the Lord’s. This sends out a mixed message to the people we interact with everyday: they see us as half us, half God. Half light, half darkness. But, when we leave our old culture and old ‘us’ behind, our light will shine as bright as the sun!
** But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. ** Proverbs 4:18 (This verse is for you, Ginny!)
**…that ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God ** Romans 15:6
Our personal goal as Christians and as a body of believers in our churches should be that our light is brighter from year to year. When we take on the Culture of Jesus Christ by loving God, loving one another, and loving our neighbor as ourselves, our old culture, fades into the background and Jesus’ light shines as bright as the sun in us. We begin to truly live beyond our natural culture.
We need to understand what Culture is before we can effectively deal with it. Culture is formed through repeated behaviors and mindsets(thought processes). It is the root and motivation for everything we do and think. Culture determines who we marry, what career we choose, how we dress, and what we eat. It also determines how we relate to people by influencing how we interact in every relationship we have.
This is why Romans 12 is so important to the new Christian and to the old. The renewal of our minds is essential and needs to be perpetual. This renewal will weed out one by one all of the thoughts and attitudes and behaviors that have taken root in our minds and hearts. It will rid us of all that contradicts His Culture. The Word of God will challenge each thought and action and bring us to a place where we need to make a decision to choose the Lord’s culture or cling to our old and imperfect one.
For example: The United States has a history of a ‘right for independence’. This is a strong mindset. It is an idea that makes each of us an island. The “I am my own ‘man/woman’ ” attitude. This heart attitude is contrary to the culture of God.
Scripture tells us in 1 Corinthians 6 ** For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. **
We, as Christians should not be ‘independent’. We are bought with the blood of the Lamb and are now under the authority of our Supreme owner. Declaring independence is contrary to God’s point of view. Yes, we have liberty, but it is liberty that gives us freedom to serve Him and others and not ourselves. Saying that independence is one of our core values, tells others that we are independent even from the Lord’s sovereignty over us.
What is my Culture and How do I change it?
Paul’s letter to the Romans challenges us to change our culture (our mindset and our habits) and to discover the culture that the Lord lives by. We are to be a ‘living sacrifice‘, to ‘be transformed by the renewing of our minds‘. Mind renewal will help to illuminate all areas of ourselves that reflect the wrong culture.
** So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.** Romans 7:25
This, like so many aspects of our walk with the Lord, is a process over time. Every time we hold onto a cultural aspect that contradicts the Lord’s, we are slowing that process down. We are missing out on all that the Lord has for us. The hardest part is recognizing what needs to be changed and allowing the Lord to work in us to change it.
For me, at the moment that the Lord saved me, many thoughts in my mind seemed to change overnight. I felt as though the Lord had turned the lights on in my brain and in my eyes so that now I could see and understand so many parts of my life from a different perspective. I had begun to Live Beyond My Culture.
But, all of my thoughts did not change at once. Many did. But not all.
The rest have changed by bits and pieces, ‘poco a poco,’ (little by little) as they say here in Spain. Learning from my church leaders, reading my Bible at home and reading books by Christ-centered authors, all played a part in the transformation.
I experienced more inner cultural changes as life taught me the difference between my perspective and the Lord’s on many subjects. Moving abroad gave me even more opportunities to examine my inner culture. Was I reflecting me, or Jesus, to this new culture of people who reject God openly and unashamedly? Do they see God as He is or do they see only my religion or worse…Am I teaching them American Culture or True Christianity?
In our next post, we will dig in a little deeper into how we can start Living Beyond Our Culture. In the meantime, we can all ask the Lord to show us one thing where our personal culture is in conflict with His Culture. I am currently learning to live the Lord’s culture of ‘taking joyfully the spoiling of my goods’ and learning how to let go of what I have and surrender all of it for His purpose. Maybe you would like to share with us something that the Lord is transforming into your own personal culture! You can let us know what it is in the comments section below!