Monday, August 07, 2006

The Culture of Heaven

Ephesians 4:24 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society
24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Cultural differences are fascinating and enriching. I've had first hand experience of two very different cultures being of Dutch and English parentage, and I remember the culture shock of coming to Canada as a new immigrant, almost 37 years ago. I was engulfed in the generosity and friendliness of the Canadian people, but missed the British sense of humour sorely.

All cultures have riches to share, as well as having funny quirks. I've laughed at Bill Bryson's book, "Notes on a Small Island," based on his years in Britain, and more recently "The Undutchables," by Colin White and Laurie Boucke made me laugh out loud on the train from Rotterdam to Amsterdam.

On my return flight to Canada I had the pleasure of being seated in the midst of a family of nine, of East Indian origin, en route to a family wedding in Toronto. During the seven hour flight, as we chatted, it was easy to see the strong commitment to family and the affection between the three generations on the flight. I learned of the beautiful saris in gossamer delicate silk - turquoise, royal blue and black, for the various events leading up to, as well as for, the wedding.

As I continued to talk with the couple that shared my row of seats, it wasn't long before two of us realized that we shared a culture in common - that of a faith in Christ. Her name was Panna and her vacation reading included the book, "What's So Amazing About Grace," by Philip Yancey, a book I told her God had used four years ago to bring healing and forgiveness to my heart. Before the flight ended we were friends and had exchanged cards and email addresses and she had given me one of her books, "Hungry for More of Jesus," by David Wilkerson because she felt she was supposed to do so. Such is the family of God.

No matter our culture, in Christ we are made new, and from the moment of our adoption into his family, we have new ways of being to learn and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives. Just as other cultures do, the family of God has some gained some quirks along the way. I believe we need to recognize them, laugh at them and ask ourselves where they came from and why and then whether they belong in our lives after all. Most of all, may the holiness of Jesus cling to us in all we do, in ever increasing measure.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I thank you for the richness and variety of the cultures of this world - and in the family of God too. My prayer this morning is that your beauty, holiness and goodness would be upon me. Help me not to misrepresent the Kingdom of Heaven through my own weakness, but to be an ambassador that rightly represents you, drawing others to you.

2 Corinthians 5:16-17 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society
16So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

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