Culture is a wonderful thing. It brings us into a long heritage of identity. There are rules and traditions that mold us and guide us. Over time, culture has functioned in all societies to help us interpret life and given us a place in time and space. God has created a community based people; we live together, we grow together, we work together for the benefit of the whole. I wish we could live as God intended but it is not possible. Sin, with all of its ills, has taken the function of culture and turned it into a system of control and suppression. What God wanted to create in us, as free and independent souls, culture is now being used to confine us into schisms that do not progress the individual, but rather lock us into identities that are not defined by God.
There is nothing wrong with culture, but a culture without God, or even a culture that is counter to God is detrimental to everyone involved. We Christians must look at our culture and see what traditions still help us guide our way, but we must also subject every part of our culture to the scrutiny of the Gospel. It is not religion that must be interpreted though the lens of culture, but
rather all culture must be born of the truth of our Creator.
“You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also" (Matthew 5:38-39 RSV).
Why do we do what we do? What makes it right? How do we know how to live--in our society, our families, ourselves? The true test is actually a simple one. Does our culture, our beliefs, our traditions make better people, families, and societies? Humans have learned enough from the past to understand that Truth, Honesty, and Love always prevails. It is unfortunate that many people have forgotten history. We continue to seek a “better” way, but the past is a storehouse of all the best ways and the worst ways. As Solomon has said, there is “nothing new under the sun.”
Culture is a system to help people live better and fuller lives. A culture based on high morals and honest conversations creates vitality to any civilization. God has a culture, and His culture is based on the ultimate Truth lived out in Love. It teaches, it guides, and it gives us our place in this world. It tells the story of our Creator, our ancestors, our families, and even ourselves. God is the ultimate definer of souls, and He has called you “mine.”
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