There is a conflict going on all around you, and you may not have even noticed. “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7, NIV) If you’ve ever lived in another country where English is not spoken you may have gone through culture shock. Culture shock is NOT being shocked by stuff we see in another culture– it’s the emotional impact of assimilating into a foreign society.
Culture is related (obviously) to cult, which makes sense if you think about it. In any local environment, we all listen to the same news, wear the same fashions, and somewhat slavishly follow the same celebrities and customs. When we travel to another country and are plunked down into a different language and set of customs, something starts to happen…
After a brief honeymoon period where everything is exciting and new, you begin to experience frustration and alienation. You can be particularly frustrated over your inability to express yourself and to have meaningful dialog with those around you.
Culture shock is like hitting an identity wall because you feel stunted and dense. You can’t explain some of the most elemental things you feel or think. It’s hard for you to share your opinions, your humor, or your feelings as effectively as you are used to doing. Your self-worth is challenged because almost all of the things you value about yourself are locked inside, hidden away unexpressed. Peter called believers sojourners and pilgrims on this earth (1 Peter 2:11), because we are aliens in a foreign land.
The Great Divide
Jesus said “that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit”, and because of that irreconcilable tension, Christians are forced to live as spiritual beings in a culture driven by flesh and the values of the world. The world adores celebrities, the kind of people who project themselves out there by any means available, who say “Don’t you know who I am?”
You receive literally thousands of messages a day celebrating the shallow and the temporary, calling your attention away from things that are actually important. But Jesus called his followers to be sanctified, to be “as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves”, and to somehow live “IN the world without being OF the world”.
In or OF?
And at this we fail. Early and often. We compromise. In churches we withdraw into holy huddles. Some church-goers reduce the amazing Christian life wherein we are forgiven and reborn to a bunch of lame “do’s” and “don’ts”. We justify ourselves, we rationalize our mistakes, and we criticize all those OTHER sinners. Believers struggle at articulating what we really feel about being a follower of Christ in a world that doesn’t always care about that.
Have you ever had spiritual culture shock? Have you felt like a hypocrite? Found yourself frustrated over being unable to express love the way you know Jesus wants you to? Ever used the usual excuses: “I’m not a speaker/evangelist/professional? I don’t like being up front, that’s not my gift, I’d rather work behind the scenes, or I’m really nobody special, God will use gifted folks for that kind of stuff…”?
Ever felt like the love of Christ within you is an amazing treasure locked inside of you, but you’re just not sure how to express it? Then there is GREAT NEWS! God never intended for YOU to be accountable for that. In fact, Paul says the opposite is true. God has placed His amazing love within you so that people see it and recognize that it’s not yours, but HIS. We are only “earthen vessels”, but Paul says there is more to us than that!
The TMZ world celebrates looks, money, achievement, power, and external things. It rewards those who push their way to the front of the culture. It is designed to make us all feel like we are missing something. Paul says that it is not the obvious outer stuff that makes us amazing. It is the hidden inner treasure.
Whose Are You?
While we place tremendous value in what we can SEE, the Lord apparently says there is also great value in what is NOT seen. There is a spiritual dimension to us that enables the very Spirit of God to uplift us, inspire us, and motivate us to be different than the world. It is not so much a matter of who we are. It is more a matter of WHOSE we are…
You don’t have to tweet a lot, or drive a fancy car;
And You don’t have to get tattoos or try to be bizarre;
You don’t have to play guitar, or have your name on a candy bar,
Or get too far in politics, or be a senator or a czar!
You don’t have to be too rich, or be a movie star;
You don’t have to get drunk, and impress friends at the bar;
It’s not celebrity, my friends, that actually takes you far:
It’s not just who knows you that counts, but more in WHOSE you ARE.
To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread