Having moved from Australia to England, I’ve noticed some obvious cultural differences. In Australia it is totally normal to walk around the shops in your swimwear, gym gear or even barefoot on some occasions. I quickly learnt that that is not culturally normal in England! Another cultural difference: in England, cards are a big deal – birthday cards, Christmas cards, wedding anniversaries – everyone gets a card for every important occasion. In Australia, they aren’t so much of a big deal. In Australia, you celebrate Christmas eating prawns on the beach. In England, it’s a hot roast, wearing a woolly Christmas jumper.
When I first moved into a new culture, I felt like a sponge, noticing all the differences and ensuring I didn’t do anything culturally awkward. One day I had a thought… Living in a new culture isn’t about following the cultural pattern of the place I’m in, I’m called to carry and follow a kingdom culture way of doing things regardless of where I am. In other words, I don’t look to a culture to tell me how things are done, I look to God to tell me how things are done.
We are a product of our cultures. A culture’s influence on who you are and how you think effects you in more ways than you realise. It comes at us from all directions – from our family, who share their values and beliefs with us as we grow up, from our friends and who we give our time to, our nationality and race, and even the media. Our culture saturates us. It tells us what person we should be, what it looks like, how it behaves, and what it wants. We internalise our culture’s rules. But which culture are we ultimately following? There is much of what we may consider normal, which may not actually be God’s normal.
The beauty of kingdom culture is that it both connects with every culture, and disrupts it. Jesus was always culturally conscious, but never culturally conformed.
Likewise, you are called to bring the culture of God’s kingdom to whatever culture you are in today. This may be a family culture, a work culture, a city’s culture. When we pray “your kingdom come” (Matthew 10:6), we are praying for the culture of heaven to be experienced on Earth. Who brings that? We do! We are the hands and feet of God. It is through us, that a culture, environment or atmosphere meets God. May it be known that we are a product of the Kingdom of God, not a product of whatever culture we are surrounded by.
Consider the day-to-day things that you do. Am I doing this because it is culturally normal? Can I stand out and do it God’s way? Practically speaking, it may be culturally normal to arrive to an event late, but kingdom culture says, ‘I will honour a person and arrive on time’. It may be culturally acceptable in your work place to complain and gossip, but kingdom culture says, ‘how can I bring life, encouragement, hope, and positivity with my words?’ It may be culturally normal to just do the bare minimum, but the kingdom of God says, ‘you are called to carry a spirit of excellence.’ The culture may tell you to judge people by how they appear, what they do, and how they look, but kingdom culture says, ‘material possessions don’t reflect a person’s worth’.
Challenge your thinking and why you do things a certain way, as Paul says, ‘And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind’ (Romans 12:2).
When animals are kept in captivity for long enough, and they are finally offered freedom, they often struggle to move from their confines and embrace freedom. The culture of their cage has become their norm. Don’t let the limitations of your culture become your cage and your norm, you have been set free to bring heaven to earth! You are a citizen of heaven (Philippians 3:20)!
A daily devotion for a better way of living.