Laymanointing

…. they were unschooled, ordinary men …. they had been with Jesus …. the crippled man healed standing with them – Acts 4:13,14

Worship Jesus in diversity – Native, Indigenous, Aborigine Cultures

After coming to know Jesus, … how should we view our own culture that we grew up in?

What’s some principles we can use to navigate in a cross-cultural setting?

A divided world … a divided church …
healing ?

The cross-cultural content in this post may be new, unfamiliar and … even uncomfortable for some,
hence, a beginning preamble section is included to ease the reader into the main sharing.

Crossing a culture, … is like learning a new language with new tones & expressions,
… tasting a new cuisine with its exotic flavors, textures and scents.


Greet one another with a holy kiss.
Romans 16:16, 1 Cor 16:20, 2 Cor 13:12, 1 Thess 5:26 (NIV)

Paul said this 4 times,
so, … to kiss or not to kiss?

Some greet by …

bowing,
wai, sampeah (slight bow with palms pressed prayer-like together),
nodding one’s heads,

shaking hands,
shaking hands, followed by touching one’s heart with the hand,

nose kissing,
kissing the cheek, … some once,  … others twice,  … and others three times,
… (left then right, or right then left depends on region)

fist bump, … high five,
hand shake/hold with a shoulder bump.

some prefer to hug …

all expressions of welcome, warmth, …. shalom 🙂 ;
culture.

A spectrum of greetings from … non-touch, .. touch, .. close touch .. gentle touch, .. strong touch … 🙂

Sometimes in cross-cultural settings,
using an unfamiliar form of greeting to a stranger from another culture,
may be taken to mean something else.
For one, it feels absolutely right, acceptable, social norm, … friendly,
… however, to the other, its ambiguous, … discomfort;
beginning a friendship with a wrong foot.

Furthermore, the meaning associated with any form of bowing is interpreted differently by different cultures.

Hence, expressions & articulation of greetings, love & affection vary across cultures.

In the business world, in some cultures its OK to flick one’s name card across the table,
while in other cultures its done with 2 hands holding the card, a slight bow of the head, and the name card text placed in the right direction for reading by the receiver.   Having a name card in the working language of the receiver also helps.

Furthermore, something as simple as color preferences
is to some extent influenced by the culture of different ethnic groups.
(due to the symbolic association with each color)

In the English language, when we say,
feeling blue, … black & white, … out of the blue, … someone is green, … see red, … grey area, … etc“,
a non-English native listener may interprete it as something else 🙂

Recently, I met a Christian friend from a Western country.
He’s  Caucasian, attending a Brethren church with an Egyptian congregation.
He shared with a smile, … that when he first joined the church,
it took him quite sometime, … to figure out what he was observing
— which was Brethren,  … & which was Egyptian 🙂 .

By crossing a culture with child-like curiosity .. & a warm smile,
we’ll all be enriched.


18 For John came neither eating nor drinking,
and they say, ‘He has a demon!’

19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking,
and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’

Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.
Matthew 11:18,19 (NASB)

The religious leaders’ critique of the way of life of both Jesus & John the Baptist was biased,
and not based on any consistent yardstick, … shifting goal posts.
Hence, their conclusions were contradictorily obvious to everyone.

Fault finders are quick to highlight flaws, faults in others,
… not themselves.

Instead of engaging Jesus and John on the substance of what they were experessing,
the religious leaders attacked Jesus and John personally.  (Ad hominem logical fallacy)

He has a demon!’ …  a gluttonous man and a drunkard,
Name calling, gross branding/labeling of the way of life of others, … through one’s eyes & values
… hurts.

Different … is not synonymous with … incorrect, wrong.

Lets humbly clarify,
…. instead of being quick to vilify.

Thankfully, there were religious leaders like Nicodemus who personally came to Jesus
to meet Jesus, to enquire,
to fellowship with Him,
to understand Him.

Dear friends, let us love one another,
for love comes from God.
Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
1 John 4:7 (NIV)

Following Jesus, unlike religion,
is a daily personal relationship with the Lord — loving God, loving others,following God’s Word.
This reality begins in our hearts, flowing out into the fruit of the Holy Spirit
— from the inside out.
Christ-like character,
rather than, adherence to human-made forms, standards.

Treat others
the same way you want them
to treat you.
Luke 6:31 (NASB)

The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
Matthew 22:39 (NASB)

Let’s respect others by being culturally sensitive to others,
Respect others as individuals, made in the image of God.

Respect everyone, and love the family of believers. Fear God, and respect the king.
1 Peter 2:17 (NLT)

And if we ourselves are being judged by the yardstick of others,
lets follow the Jesus way,

15 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life.
And if someone asks about your hope as a believer,
always be ready to explain it.

16 But do this in a gentle and respectful way.

Keep your conscience clear.
Then if people speak against you,
they will be ashamed when they see
what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.
1 Peter 3:15,16 (NLT)


God created variety, diversity in His creation.

24 “The God who made the world and everything in it
is the Lord of heaven and earth
and does not live in temples built by human hands.
25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything.

Rather, he himself gives everyone
life and breath
and everything else.

26 From one man
he made all the nations,
that they should inhabit the whole earth;
and he marked out their appointed times in history
and the boundaries of their lands.

27 God did this so that they would seek him
and perhaps reach out for him
and find him,
though he is not far from any one of us.

28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ …
Acts 17:24-28(NIV)

God seeks to reach out to all nations, tribes, tongues.

Created in God’s image, …. human kind is creative in expression.


After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude
that no one could count,
from every nation, tribe, people and language,
standing before the throne and before the Lamb.
They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.

10 And they cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”
Revelation 7:9,10 (NIV)

Source: user Tribal Mission (Vimeo)


“We see God working in terms of Jewish culture to reach Jews,
yet refusing to implore Jewish customs on Gentiles.

Instead non-Jews are to come to God and relate to Him
in terms of their own cultural vehicles.

We see the Bible endorsing then, a doctrine we call biblical sociocultural adequacy
in which each culture is taken seriously

but non advocated exclusively as the only one acceptable to God.”
— Charles Kraft, Anthropology for Christian Witness, Orbis Books, 1996.

10 and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him
11 a renewal in which
there is no distinction between
Greek and Jew
,
circumcised and uncircumcised,
barbarian, Scythian,
slave and freeman,

but Christ is all, and in all.

12 So, as those who have been chosen of God,
holy and beloved,
put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;
Colossians 3:10-12 (NASB)

nations

Sanctification.  This is the proper biblical response to someone of a cultural background different from our own.  Sanctification means setting something or someone apart for God’s intended purposes.  God wants Native believers to grow up into Christ and to judge their own culture by the light of God’s word.  Whatever can be examined and is true to the Word of God.  Many native cultural expressions are not a violation of the Word of God and therefore do not need to be abandoned.  They can be redeemed and transformed into valid Christ behavior and usage.
…. By sanctifying people and their cultures, Jesus transforms them to become instruments of praise to his glory.  Cultures without Christ are dead when they are separated from Him; to resurrect and transform these cultures is to make them alive or bring them to life as an expression of Himself.  Cultures are to be instruments through which Christ reveals Himself to the nations.
— Richard Twiss, One Church, Many Tribes, Regal books, 2000, chapter 3 (A Redemptive view of Culture)

Sanctification is the proper biblical response,
not absorption, syncretism, and rejection.

Absorption.  Pagan beliefs and idolatry practices are overlooked or tolerated within a local church if the person holding these beliefs is a member of good standing.  Such practices may even be allowed to coexist alongside the church.

Syncretism.  This is the attempted union of different or even opposing principles or practices.  The syncretist assumes that because two philosophies or religions are similar, they are in fact the same, or synonymous.

Rejection.  The outsider’s culture is dismissed as pagan and ungodly and is regarded as having little or no redeeming value”
— Richard Twiss, One Church, Many Tribes, Regal books, 2000, chapter 3 (A Redemptive view of Culture)


Richard Twiss:

“A Holy Visitation
In January 1998, my friend Jim Brenn, pastor of Skyline Foursquare Church, held his second missions conference in Anchorage, Alaska.  Part of the vision for the conference was to work through some reconciliation issues among the Alaskan Native and non-Native brethren and to gain new understanding of the role of Native people relative to God’s purposes for Alaska and beyond.

Something very powerful occurred at this conference on a Tuesday afternoon after I taught on the value of Native people in God’s redemptive purposes for the nations.  At the close of my presentation, I showed an 18-minute video on the inaugural World Christian Gathering of Indigenous People that had been held in New Zealand in 1996.  The video contained highlights from the eight-day gathering of indigenous believers from 32 countries, each group worshiping Jesus with its own unique cultural music, songs, dancing and attire.

At the conclusion of the video, a beautiful song of reflection was sung, talking about the returning of the indigenous peoples in dignity, strength, hope, courage and purity and their walking in the light and praising God because their deliverer has come.  While the music played the video showed aboriginal peoples, including a few North American Natives, dancing, praying and worshiping in various traditional cultural expressions.  As the video drew to a close, I heard a few people behind me gently weeping.  Slowly, the sound of their weeping increased; and I could feel the wounding and deep heart cry of the Native people in the room, including my own.

By the time the video ended and the credits were rolling, nearly everyone in the room was crying.  No one even bothered to turn off the video player.  I too began to cry and was soon undone, head in hands, sobbing from a deep place of loss and identification with the pain of Native people.  Men and women alike began to wail and lament loudly, as though they were at a funeral.  Soon the room was filled with the weighty presence of the Spirit of God, accompanied by deep intercession with groanings — Native and White were groaning together in travail.  This holy time of visitation by God among His people went on for 15-20 minutes.  It was a time of healing of souls and release from hurt and loss for Native people.

This was a bittersweet experience because there was a sense of deep loss and, at the same time, overwhelming joy at the return of something of great value that had been lost.  Some then began to speak words of prophecy.  As this time ended, I asked a few Native folks to come up and try to explain what had just happened to all of us.

People said that when they saw the Native people in the video dancing, they wanted to be free to do the same thing but felt the loss of not being able to.  Several said they saw in the video what they themselves had longed for in their own lives but were afraid to try for fear of persecution from the Church.   One lady said how bad she felt at the sight of others enjoying the freedom to worship in their cultural forms, a freedom they themselves had never known.  An Athabascan woman expressed great sadness because, when the missionaries came to her village, the Church had taken away their dances and now they couldn’t remember how to do them anymore.

One individual said he felt the Lord was giving back to them the Native culture that the devil had stolen and had attempted to destroy.  As these things were shared, there was much agreement and affirmation among the people and a distinct sense of joyful hope being restored.  Many of these Alaska Natives were, in their words, “set free to be Native again.”  This time of visitation and healing served to lay the foundation for a powerful time of reconciliation.”

Source: Richard Twiss, One Church, Many Tribes, Regal books, 2000, chapter 7 (A World in need of Healing)

twissfamily

Paraphrasing a thought expressed by Chief Spokane Garry, a follower of Jesus, in a meeting in 1855,
beyond the color of our skin and the clothing we wear,
underneath, … the body and blood is the same.
If we cut ourselves the blood is all red.

So God created man      in His own image;
in the image of God        He created him;
male and female             He created them.
Genesis 1:27 (NKJV)

And He has made   from one blood   every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth …
Acts 17:26 (NKJV)

Sadly, in varying degrees, we tend to be ethnocentric,
i.e., the belief in the inherent superiority of one’s own ethnic group or culture,
a tendency to view unfamiliar groups or cultures from the perspective of one’s own (wikipedia),
… eg.  ‘not invented here‘ syndrome, … not ‘like us

We need Jesus love and grace to help us
see others through His eyes,
love others as He has loved us;
seeing each person as one who Jesus also died for.

gs

The Good Samaritan – Dinah Roe Kendall

Let’s honor others & view others in God’s eyes,
— truly created in His image.


Sometimes the tongue praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those
who have been
made in the image of God.

10 And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth.
Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!
James 3:9,10 (NLT)


Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!
Psalm 150:6 (NASB)

“Musical pentecost is not one music pitted against another.  It is a sharing, a commingling, a co-celebration, a co-usage among many tongues.
Artistic pentecost is community.  It unifies.  It brings the bagpipes of Scotland in union with the balalaikas of Russia; it tunes the nose flute of Papau New Guinea to the marimbas of Guatemala and joins the Jesus rap of the inner city to intercourse with the gamelan of Bali.

If we genuinely love ourselves, culturally and ethnically, we will naturally love the ways of others.  To love our own musical ways brings us to the resilence, assurance, and freedom to look lovingly into the musical ways of others and even to be nurtured by them.  This is simply the Golden Rule stated musically:
If and as I truly love my immediate musical world,
I will be able to understand the love of others for their ways.

“Shape-note hymns, cantatas, gamelan ensembles, rock and roll: all are invited to proclaim God’s glory!
There is no single musical culture or musical style that can, better than all others, capture and repeat back the fullness of God’s glory.  God does not want to hear only Beethoven, or Ken Medema, or Christian rap, or Cameroonian drums, or Pakistani chant.
God wants to hear the whole world in its countless tongues and amazingly diverse musics making praise after praise.  God accepts not only the offerings of a highly trained choir, but also the song of the arrow maker in Brazil…. God awaits entirely new songs for the first time from a tribe in Cambodia, a Mexican barrio, and a Scottish hamlet”
Harold M Best, Music through the Eyes of Faith, Harper Collins Publishers, 1993.


Multi …. ??

The videos above are examples of multi-ethnic, multi-cultural & multi-lingual meetings.
When the people come together, … they’re free to come to worship in their traditional native dress, … express their prayers in their native language, … worship in meaningful expressions of their native culture,
…. and led by multi-ethnic leadership;
where diversity is honored and celebrated,
accepting & respecting one another in Christ.

Recognising that the gifts and ministries of God are not exclusively endowed upon any particular ethnic group only, or cultural form,
but given to everyone to edify the body of Christ, by the same Spirit, the same Lord and the God who works through all (1 Corinthians 12:4,5)

Romans 15:7 (NIV)
Accept one another,
then, just as Christ accepted you,
in order to bring praise to God

In general, when ‘multi-cultural‘ is used to describe fellowships and churches, …
it usually refers to multi-ethnic,    mono-lingual & mono-cultural  (i.e. using a common shared language & culture).


Crossing a culture

When the Holy Spirit was first poured upon the Gentiles,
let’s note Peter thoughts when he first entered the Gentile home of  Cornelius, the Roman Centurion.

27 While talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people.
28 He said to them:
“You are well aware that it is against our law
for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile.

This is what Peter’s culture, background taught him.

But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean.

This is the truth that God just taught Peter, … a mindset & paradigm shift.

29 So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?”

30 Cornelius answered: “Three days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me 31 and said, ‘Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor. 32 Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He is a guest in the home of Simon the tanner, who lives by the sea.’ 33 So I sent for you immediately, and it was good of you to come.
Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.”

34 Then Peter began to speak:
“I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism

35 but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.

44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.
Acts 17:27-34, 44-46(NIV)

God is sovereign, … He filled the Gentiles in Cornelius home with the Holy Spirit,
He sent an angel to speak to Cornelius,
Similarly, when Jesus was born, … Gentile wise men from the East,
angels spoke to Jewish shepherds in the fields.

God does not show favoritism
but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right,
Amen!


Cross-Culture Attitudes

How should we view the  cultural practices we grew up with?

Paul’s advice on cultural expressions,

12:9 Love must be sincere.
Hate what is evil;
cling to what is good.
 

Evaluate, filter culture through the Word of God,

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword,
and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow,
and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12 (NASB)

Finally, brethren, whatever things are    true,
whatever things are    honest,
whatever things are    just,
whatever things are    pure,
whatever things are    lovely,
whatever things are of    good report,
if there is any   virtue
and if there is any    praise,

exercise yourselves in these things.
Philippians 4:8 (JUB)

and living out,

17 Whatever you do in word or deed,
do all in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
Colossians 3:17 (NASB)

31 Whether, then, you eat or drink or
whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 10:31 (NASB)

About cultural practices, Paul used the examples of food, and honoring sacred days or celebration days
in the letter to the Romans,

14:6 Whoever regards one day as special does so   to the Lord.
Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they    give thanks to God;
and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and    gives thanks to God.

14:7 For none of us lives for ourselves alone,
and none of us dies for ourselves alone.

14:8 If we live,   we live for the Lord;
and if we die, we die for the Lord.
So, whether we live or die,
we belong to the Lord.

15:7 Accept one another,
then, just as Christ accepted you,
in order to bring praise to God

15:16 Therefore do not let what you know is good
be spoken of as evil
.

15:17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking,
but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit
,

15:18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way
is pleasing to God and receives human approval.

14:1Accept the one whose faith is weak,
without quarreling over disputable matters.

14:12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.
14:13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another.
Instead, make up your mind
not to put any stumbling block
or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.

14:19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to
peace and to mutual edification.

13:8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another;
for
he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.

Romans 12:9-11, 13, 16;   14:6-8;   15:7,16-18;   14:1, 12,13, 19 (NIV);   Romans  13:8 (NASB)

Build bridges of understanding, respect, tolerance, and patience with one another.


When we choose to follow Jesus, what should we put away ?

1 Corinthians 10:5-7 (NASB)
But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.
Now these things became our examples, to the intent that 
we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.
And do not become idolaters as were some of them.

2 Peter 2:19 (NLT, NKJV)
… For you are a slave to whatever controls you.

… for by whom a person is overcome,
by him also he is brought into bondage.

Some modern day idols are not physical or material in nature,
but are the focus of one’s thoughts and inevitably actions,
addictions which enslave, control and brings people into bondage.
you are a slave to whatever controls you

Thank God, only through Jesus, we can be set free.
And having been set free from sin,

you became slaves of righteousness
Romans 6:18 (NKJV)

Therefore, after coming to know Jesus,
in our own lives,
we should not lust after evil things and  not become idolaters.
i.e. turn our hearts to Jesus, & walk in the Word of God, with the strength of the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us,
let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us,
and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith
Hebrews 12:1,2 (NASB)


How should we view the practices of others?

17 Whatever you do in word or deed,
do all in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
Colossians 3:17 (NASB)

Using food as an example, Paul explained,

1 Corinthians 10:23-33 (NASB)
23 All things are lawful,
but not all things are profitable.

All things are lawful,
but not all things edify.

24 Let no one seek his own good,
but that of his neighbor.
 

Seek the good of our neighbor,
to profit and edify our neighbor

25 Eat anything that is sold in the meat market
without asking questions for conscience’ sake;

26 for the earth is the Lord’s,
and
all it contains.

27 If one of the unbelievers invites you and you want to go,
eat anything that is set before you
without asking questions
for conscience’ sake.

28 But if anyone says to you,
“This is meat sacrificed to idols,”
do not eat it,

for the sake of the one who informed you,
and for conscience’ sake;

29 I mean not your own conscience,
but the other man’s;

for why is my freedom judged by another’s conscience?
30 If I partake with thankfulness,
why am I slandered concerning that for which I give thanks?

31 Whether, then, you eat or drink or
whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

32 Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks
or to the church of God;

33 just as I also please all men in all things,
not seeking my own profit
but the profit of the many,
so that they may be saved
.

whatever we do, do all to the glory of God,
… giving thanks through Jesus to God the Father
respect and honor others who are not yet followers of Jesus;
not to offend them, or their way of life,
so that they may be saved.


In summary,

But the goal of our instruction is
love from a pure heart
and a good conscience
and a sincere faith.
1 Timothy 1:5 (NASB)

we should not lust after evil things
and  not become idolaters.
i.e. turn our hearts to Jesus, & walk in the Word of God, with the strength of the Holy Spirit.

Love must be sincere.
Hate what is evil;
cling to what is good.
 

Discard evil works and idolatry practices,

whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Hence, a key question is,
in our daily living, … how can we glorify God?
in this cultural practice, … does it glorify God?
Can it be redeemed to glorify and honor God in thanksgiving ?

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking,
but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,

And in our relationships with people of other cultures,

Treat others
the same way you want them
to treat you.

You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples,
if you love one another
John 13:35 (NIV)


Footnote:
Indigenous cultural expressions of worship are as diverse as worship liturgy in churches.
Historically, churches from various parts of the world have evolved various forms of liturgy in worship, eg orthodox, denominational, contemporary, etc,
such that a Christian coming from one liturgical form may find it very different with what they’re used to,
when attending a church service in another liturgical form.

Here’s a list of liturgical forms from wikipedia (click here)


Further Reading:

One Church Many Tribes, Following Jesus the way God made you

One Church Many Tribes, Following Jesus the way God made you

musicthroughfaith

Music through the Eyes of Faith

Embracing the discomfort of diversity (click here)

Epic Journey — The Hmar Bible (click here)


Cross-Culture | Worship/Praise

by 林弟兄, bro Lim
October 20, 2016
laymanointing.wordpress.com

Copyright © 林弟兄 bro Lim, Laymanointing, 2014-2016 – All Rights Reserved
Creative Commons License


 

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