REPOSTToday’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Cami King who serves as associate pastor at Remnant Church in Manhattan, was first posted on April 7, 2014. Cami is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BA) and Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div.). We are truly sorry for the recent passing of her young brother.
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“Conflating ‘Christianity’ with our Own Cultural Preferences”
I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. 3 But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. 4 Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— 5 to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.
I think most of us know that the gospel message is offensive. Jesus taught His followers that he did not come to bring peace but the sword, separating even the closest relationships because of the offensive nature of His message.
But throughout Church history, during certain missionary efforts, it was not the gospel itself that was the site of offense, but the cultural particularities that came with it. Instead of teaching people to praise and worship God in their own culture and language (with their own style of music, preaching, etc.), some believers have made the mistake of conflating culture and religion, teaching both as one in the same.
This is similar to the situation Paul was facing. As a missionary to the Gentiles, he taught the gospel (God’s salvation plan for the world through Christ’s death and resurrection) and many were being saved, but Jewish believers came in and taught that the Gentiles had to also abandon their culture and adopt Jewish cultural practices (namely circumcision and dietary restrictions) in order to truly be saved.
Some years ago, I traveled to Brazil and encountered a small minority group that had not yet been reached with the gospel. They were not unreached in the sense that the gospel message had not made it to their region (there were Christians all around them). But the Christians had so demonized their culture over the years that most of them were no longer interested in hearing anything Christians had to say.
One of the most beautiful characteristics of the church is its multiculturalism. People from all different places, with different languages, cultural practices, food preferences, and worship styles can come together as a family, loving one another and learning from each other. When we conflate “Christianity” with our own cultural preferences, we often miss out on this amazing experience – by either rejecting differences (separation) or by erasing differences (homogenization). But God’s kingdom is a multicolored one and we benefit far more from our difference than we often think.
Prayer: Father, thank You for my brothers and sisters in Christ all around the world and that You value our various cultures and worship styles and all the many things that make us different. But more than these things, thank You that You unite us as one in Christ through the Gospel. Help me to be apart of building up your many-colored kingdom. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Bible Reading for Today: 1 Corinthians 5
Lunch Break Study
Read Colossians 3:11-14: Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. 12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
Questions to Consider
- Why point is Paul making in verse 11?
- How are we called to treat one another? What enables us to do this?
- Why might Paul have needed to give these instructions?
- We are one in Christ. Not that we don’t have differences, but that our differences don’t make us better or worse than others (as in the world). We are different, yes, but united and equal in Christ.
- With compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Essentially we are called to love each other as Christ has loved us. We are able to do this because God has purified us and loved us.
- Because conflicts are bound to arise – especially between people who are different from one another. But Christ enables us to love through difference.
Are there people whose cultural difference have created a barrier for you (especially within your Christian community)? Are there different types of people in your workplace, school, neighborhood with whom God may want you to build a relationship? Ask God to identify practical ways you can overcome difference with love in your community.