By God’s permission and design, people from around the world now live in my community and have become a part of my day to day and week to week sphere of life.
I regularly interact with a Sikh gentleman from Punjab state, India, a hard-working cultural Muslim man from Iran, and various culturally Muslim men from Bangladesh.
My guess is that at least sixty percent of the people living within a mile of my house are Spanish-speaking, cultural Catholics, originally from Mexico or a central American country, and that only speak English when they are at work or out and about around town.
Where ever you live may not be as ethnically diverse as my community, but it’s probably moving in that direction.
As a follower of Jesus that takes the bible seriously, I’m not discouraged about the changing ethnic make-up of my community and my country–I’m actually excited about it.
Because I’m convinced that the God I serve–the God who has revealed Himself through His written word, is intentionally permitting these precious people from around the world to relocate in to our communities.
And He has already told us what His “end game” plan is going to be–at some point in the future He will receive worship from at least a portion of every people, tribe, tongue, and nation that He originally created to uniquely reflect His glory.
I’m overjoyed at the reality that participation in the Great Commission that Jesus gave to His followers to make disciples from among every ethnic group is no longer limited to those who leave everyone and everything behind and relocate to far away places for the sake of the Gospel.
Oh, He still calls some of His servants to be missionaries–to leave everything behind and go to those far away places, and He is still calling the rest of His people to send and care for those that obey and go.
But He is now giving those of us who send and care for missionaries the added opportunity and privilege to participate directly in fulfilling the Great Commission by reaching out with His love and truth to our new neighbors that He is bringing to us from around the world.
In order for us to communicate His love and truth effectively to these people whose cultures are radically different than our own, I believe that God calls us to think about and study what the culture of His Kingdom is, what our own cultural values are, and what the cultural values of our new neighbors are.
When we take the time to do that, we discover that:
–Western culture in general and American culture specifically, is fundamentally different than both the cultures of the vast majority of the rest of the people that live on this planet, and the cultures and values of the people that are recorded in the bible.
–With few exceptions, non-western cultures today share foundational similarities with one another and with the cultures and values of the people whose lives, stories, and beliefs are recorded in the bible.
–By understanding and viewing God’s word and the truths it contains through a non-Western lens, we can both increase our hunger to worship Him for His goodness and grace for all people AND our ability to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the most life-changing way possible with those from other cultures.
With all of the above as an introduction, in my next few posts I will unpack the first miracle that Jesus did–turning water in to wine at a wedding–through a non-Western cultural lens.
I believe that if you take the time to go through it, you’ll be amazed at all of the cultural dynamics that were taking place as He strategically unveiled who He was and a glimpse of the reason He entered in to our world.
And even more importantly, that when given the opportunity, you’ll have the ability to share the Gospel with those from other cultures using an emphasis that you may not currently be familiar with.