In my Faith and Action class, we have been reading this book called The Primal Vision. It’s more or less about how western culture is not, in fact, the ideal culture. It looks at the pros and cons of Western culture and African culture and how they can compare, how they can help each other rather than damage and how different cultures allow us to see a better picture of the fuller picture of Christ.
In the end of it all, I see that Christ reveals himself in other cultures, yet also challenges those other cultures as well. It goes both ways…revealing and challenging for both cultures. Having adopted a love and passion for mission work, this book kind of blew my views up. It appears to see evangelism and missionaries as a negative concept. But here’s why…many cross-cultural evangelism does not take the time to see where Jesus is in the culture they are entering. Instead, they try to impose their own Jesus (and by doing so, their own culture) upon whomever they are “helping”. The fact of the matter is that Jesus already exists in each culture and every person, no matter their religion or way of living, has some beauty and truth to contribute to the big picture.
Evangelism does not necessarily have to take place in a different country to be cross-cultural. Cross-cultural mission work can mean beginning a relationship with your neighbor whose past and life-values are likely very different from your own. And in beginning a relationship with a fellow neighbor, church member, or new friend, you would never hop right in and slam your own doctrine and life philosophy in their face right off the bat, would you? Of course not. That would be insensitive and would certainly turn the person away from desire to hear you and get to know you. You must start small. You get to know the person, ask them about their life, their family, their thoughts on this that or other. This applies both cross-culturally and cross-continentally. How does the person, the village, the country you are relating to see Christ? You can’t expect their views to align perfectly with your own. Get to know what they have to say… remembering that each and every one has that bit of truth to offer to the grand picture of Christ…not the western Christ, the world’s Christ. Whether you are in your home city or across the world, such a humble approach is glorifying to God. And because of that, the Lord will lead you and show you when it is time for to teach or if you are the one who needs to be taught.