With over 7 billion people in the world, so many have a culture that defines them The dynamics of an “Old World culture, Modern Culture, Western Culture, Latin culture, African American culture are fascinating. Traditions and the achievements of each people group have been learned and passed down from generation to generation, values that have stood the test of time and continue to stand.
In relationships, every person has their own culture and subculture. These practices makeup what they believe and value. Often when two people come together, there can be a “cultural clash” due to how they define their environment. Each has their “intrinsic dictionaries” largely made up of how they grew up and their parental influences. When coming together there are many adjustments and learning to appreciate each other’s cultures.
The environment and learned behavior in culture are often expressed in relationships. We are the products of our culture. Grace is “out of the box” and “counter-cultural”, but it is a secret to functioning in relationships.” As we developing a “Grace Culture” it means giving what is needed, not what they deserved. Culture profiles the individual, where grace goes beyond the family name or the family heritage; Grace represents a royal identity in Christ regardless of what “tribe” we maybe from or the cultural trend of the day.
There is a “religious culture” a historical framework that has grown to be acceptable – the norm. Sometimes we must step out of tradition and initiate a new way to reach the person afresh. Grace introduces the life and a new way of thinking beyond what is expected.
For example, Grace:
- Learns their language.
- Values the person first.
- Loves the person at the moment.
- Serves the person.
Often we do things the same way over and over without thinking about it because it is the way we have always done it. Often as we are challenged “why we do what we do” it helps redefine or reestablish our culture. Culture can put tradition first, but grace turns the order around, the person becomes more valuable than the best of their culture can offer – it defines true value.
When we enter another culture, there can be a shock. Entering another world different from what you expect can be challenging. A different language or different ways of doing things even a different way of thinking. How do we function in another culture and hurdle obstacles?
When living in Ukraine I learned a few things in honoring another culture:
- I am not there to change a person’s culture.
- I am not there to present my own culture.
- Respecting and learning traditions opens doors.
- Try not to offend people due to cultural ignorance.
- I am a student first, then a contributor.
The Ukrainian culture was so different than what I was used to, often I learned to love the differences and laugh a lot at myself.
Even with the “broad stroke” of culture, we are in an age of differences. People love their individuality and uniqueness – just look at all the coffee options we have!
Jesus was counter-cultural, He was not restricted to fit in people’s boxes; He often broke concepts because He gave what was so desperately needed and not what was expected. Here are some examples Jesus did:
- He was not afraid of initiate change
- He believed in what He was doing
- He was not trying to please people
- He wasn’t trying to be popular
- He was not representing Himself but His father’s heart
Grace goes against the norm; it is often misunderstood and looked at as a weakness. Grace ministers to the heart of the individual and introduces healing.
All of our relationships need a Grace culture initiated. Intentional forgiveness, mercy, and kindness are ways to introduce a grace culture. Introduce the unexpected, and change your culture.
Jason is a graduate from Maryland Bible College and Seminary, and presently he leads the Pastoral Care Team of Greater Grace Church in Baltimore. Since age 16, Jason has been involved with mission work among the former Soviet-Bloc countries in Eastern Europe, as well as in Asia, and in the United States. While living in Ukraine, he helped church plant three new churches that continue to thrive today under trained nationals. He has also written five books and has his own podcast (tinyurl.com/IRpodcast)