“Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee:” Gen 12:1
Culture, a way of life and living that is invisible yet so powerful that confines and defines an entire people, has a strong hold on many of us. It is an identification. It influences how people think. It affects what people do and how they act. It has control over all aspects of a person’s life. You can identify traces of culture in every little detail of a person’s life. And it can be a strong bondage on the person, because it confines the person into this mold and limits set by the culture. A person may not step outside the boundary of his culture. He may even view all things outside of his cultural box with hostility. In essence, the cultural box defined what is right and acceptable for the person. Yet, culture is the product of men. It is the culmination of experiences and wisdom and men. It is men discovering how they should live in their given environment. So, to sum it up, culture is the way of men in this world. Different groups of people have different ways of life, hence thousands of different cultures in the world.
In contrast to the ways of men, the ways of God is much different. “For my ways are not your ways, my thoughts are not your thoughts.” The ways of God is definitely higher than the ways of men. And His ways, revealed to us through the Word of God, is definitely above all human cultures. As Christians, there should be no doubt which culture or which way of life should we follow. As Christians, there should be no doubt that Christ and His way should be our only way of life. Yet, it is a constant struggle with our old men, and our old selves that is much defined not only by sin, but also by our culture.
It is true that a culture can contain godly elements. It may contain biblical principals. And many elements in the culture may work because it contained godly principals. It may be a “good” culture in our eyes for the most part. However, it is still the way of men. And to be a Christian, we are to die to the world. “For ye are dead, and your life are hid with Christ in God.” We are dead to our old lust and flesh, our old ways of life, our old thoughts and our old culture. It is the principal of God, that He brings about new life into us, a new heart, a new mind, and a new way of life, hence a new culture. It is a culture that is completely godly, biblical, flowing out from the life of Christ in us. It is not just abandoning the false way of doing things of the old culture, but a change of nature inside of us. When the new life springs forth, when that new man inside of us grows stronger and stronger, our ways of life will be changed.
God often uses the environment and circumstances to help us get to where we need to go. Just as God called Abram out of his land and his father’s house, many Christians also were called to do the same, leaving their homeland and culture. It is helpful that we are plucked out of our culture. Yet, what is truly needed is that the culture is purged from the inside, and replaced with the one and only true Christ. Instead of our culture telling us what to do and how to do it, it is the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us guiding us and leading us. Christ needs to be our center. If our culture is not biblical, then it has to go, not the other way around.