Missions: Culture Clash

Jesus, Christianity, World Religions — Culture Clash
   Jesus paused for a drink; the Samaritan culture clashed with Him. Paul, Barnabas, and Titus went to Jerusalem to face a clash with Judeo-Christianity. Christianity clashed with the workers union of religious silversmiths in Ephesus. Paul and the highly educated of Athens clashed on Mars Hill. Paul and the immature Christians at Corinth clashed over cultural morality. Paul, bringing a Gentile love offering for the Followers of the Way that he loved dearly in  Jerusalem, faced entrenched Hebrew culture buried deep in the first church. This lead to a mob beating, arrest, jail, conspiracy, trial after trial, shipwreck, and house arrest in Rome. At last, Paul clashed with the Roman authority, and the Roman sword boarded him on the express train into Jesus’ waiting arms.
   Through it all, they never forgot Jesus’ admonition,  “Love your enemies and pray for those…” This is our template today in clashes with secular America,  Islam, Radical Hinduism, Communism, et al.
Jesus gave the battle plan on a mountain in Galilee: “Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: ‘God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age'” (Matthew 28, The Message). I grew up in a very missionary-minded family. Foreign missions, benevolence, caring for the less fortunate was always before us in daily prayer  and devotion, and by example. When I became associate or youth minister under  Dr. C. C. Crawford, I discovered that you were judged as to your Christianity by your view on missions. I took  sides. As I finished college in the secular and Christian world, and I began to see the true Jesus instruction in  ” Go out and train everyone you meet…” I began to understand that my mission field began within the four walls of my home; it reached out to the neighbors on all the city blocks of my town. Then it extended to the east, west, north, and south until it reached right back to my front poarch. I was now a Christian globalist with the Romans 13 instruction to obey the laws of every country in which I found myself. Or, if they contradicted the Bible, accept the consequences. I understood that Christian missions was defined by a lot more than how you raised or gave the money.
I, now, was first to minister to the bedrooms of my home, that for decades were peopled with kin and kids from everywhere.

Kiddos that come in every flavor: Anglo, Apache, Navajo, Zuni, Pima, Latinos, Negro, Mulatto, a smattering of Texans, Okies and New Mexicans, with a Norwegian Elk Hound and Tiny the cat thrown in. They came prepackaged by childhood with all available vices (Genesis 8:21). I would have been lost at first had it not been for Melba’s natural ability to adopt and mother the most ornery stray. But I am a quick study, well after a few closed door sessions, and we became a family with victories and tragedies. For Lori and I, this was our schooling in childhood education and evangelism.

Since I had chosen a bi-vocational ministry 50 to 60 hours a week, I was up to my eyeballs in cultural folks of the world. I was the closest thing to a Christian minister that many of them had ever known. My Great Commission world was expanding rapidly.

By design, I took small, new, broken churches that at best were immature, needy, and a hand full; my Great Commission was still at my front door.

Seeing the gospel need in all four horizons I developed a 200 year mission plan to reach the fifteenth-century Iberian Empire with King Jesus; my mission plan expanded.

   Because of all this, my mission view is strangely local as well as global.  The first thing I learned is that sin is really universal, and a stinking mess at best; you must learn to deal with it. The next thing I learned was that people were not defined by their sin any more than they are limited by color of skin. Paul was so right in Acts seventeen: we are all of one blood. We have the same hopes and desires; all have some limitation and everyone can improve and reach for their dreams. The Great Commission is designed to reach individual sinners or whole continents of sinners. You can’t be an obedient Christian and be for missions in Guatemala and not for missions at the local jail. You cannot decide to deal with gossips, and turn your back on homosexuals. I care not that the Evangelicals have made heroes out of those that refuse to deal with garden variety sinners like homosexuals, murderers, thieves, or sexually perverse people. I presume they have out gone, ran ahead of God, and wrote their own catalog of sins that they can deal with, and the ones to turn your back on. I understand the tendency; it was one of the first sins I had to confess under the instruction to the church in 1 John 1:9.

Thus, a Christian cake baker has no room under the great commission from Jesus to refuse on the grounds that you do not approve of a potential customer’s sinful behavior, to refuse to bake a cake for them. Who asked you to approve of anybody’s sin; that is where culture sneaks in to destroy the Christian witness? Approving of sin is not on the table.

You are to make Jesus appealing to them by your behavior toward them. You get them to fall in love with Jesus, let the Holy Spirit go to work on them, “To convict them of sin.”

You should praise God when the sinners come to you; your job is partly done at that time. There is a reason that of the 80,000 conversions to Jesus Christ daily, only a few are in the United States; we turned our backs on sinners in all too many places.

I am not speaking of Constitutional rights here. That is a different subject. A born-again Christian will forgo his freedom rights to obey his Lord.

If you think you are condoning sin by dealing with sinners, then you can’t deal with the public in any way on a daily basis.

Now that President Trump has done more for Christians from Washington D.C. in a year and a quarter than other presidents have done in eight years, we are still going to be dealing with more and more sinners on a daily basis. We have thousands of bureaucrats left over from the past administration that are fighting the President and working against our faith positions. More and more judges appointed over the past 30 years are ruling from the benches; we must deal with it.

We can win America back if we follow the obedience to Jesus and obey the Great Commission from our bedrooms outward.

Now that we have dealt with home, city, and country, let us reach out globally. I am a nationalist that needs to evaluate all our global commitments. We are an involved country, but we are a constitutional republic that has a firm, solid directive for our government just as the church has a clearly written Bible to guide and direct it.  For the past forty-eight years our presidents and congresses have ignored the Constitution, and righting the ship of state will take more than a few directives and a deadlocked Senate and House of Representatives to get it done, and like a fat man that realizes he has been eating too much, he can’t just stop eating all at once to correct the problem.

To avoid throwing the baby out with the dirty bath water, the president has to, with his staff, evaluate each treaty and consider the changes, consequences and unexpected consequences of each move. To get some things done he has had to make the trade-offs. The American people are used to sound bites and quick, poorly thought-through solutions. Most government leaders are ideologues for whom the decisions are made elsewhere; they just parrot out the directions regardless of what is good for the country.

The president has cut almost a half billion dollars from our dues to the U.N., stood firm with  NATO,  stood up to the bulling of North  Korea and has talks scheduled in the coming days. He has treated Mexico’s whimpering as it deserved. Mexico knows they built a wall to stop   Guatemalans from coming across their southern border; they have no legal or moral reason to object to our wall and controlled immigration and drug flow. He and Congress have given Americans a real tax break. All of this has helped the church in reaching the world for Jesus. Two years ago our dollars lost 20% in value when wired to Guatemala, even more at other countries. With a stable government our missions can be fully funded.

We are up against some hard times in S.E. Asia; in India, the worlds most populace democracy, Christians are being overran by radical Hindus; the government is looking the other  way. Christian and others are being beaten, killed, and houses of worship burned. Christians are not seeking retaliation, but offering forgiveness; Paul would approve. Christianity, with native leaders, is growing rapidly. Christianity has always had to face opposing culture, and clash with it, and respond with firmness, forgiveness and love and prayers. For every Christian killed, there are thousands taking their place.

In China with 1.38 billion people, it is totally different. China and the United States are like two contenders in a boxing ring competing for the heavyweight title; it is heavy competition. There are some great differences. David Goldman of Asia Times began an article by stating one of the differences:

“China is an empire based on the coercion of unwilling people. The United States became a great nation populated by people who chose to be in it…Our principle is E Pluribus Unum; the Chinese reality is E Pluribus Pluribus with a dictator at the top”.

He went on to describe some cultural differences. He pointed out that in America a rich president can get his son or daughter into Harvard, regardless of SAT score or grade average, with money. In China, President, now for life, Xi Jinping has no such ability at the University of Peking. There only grades matter, education is master.  He goes on with culture to point out that Chinese having lived under war lords and Communist dictators for most of their family remembrance have no problem obeying completely the Lord Jesus. Whereas, Americans are used to voting, bargaining, doing what they please. The Chinese have moved their culture from horse and buggy to the space age in 50 years. It took America 250 years to do the same. China today is in striking distance of beating the USA as the leading economic force in the world. Their plan to beat us is in progress today. Forty percent of their youth in college are studying engineering (research and development). In the USA, that number is seven percent, WITH A MUCH SMALLER STUDENT BODY.

Everyone is afraid of a trade war with China today as a result of our president taking needed steps to control the gigantic trade imbalance that the past four presidents have allowed to build up. China has been quiet on the subject wanting the imbalance to get so large they could demand rich Alaska for payment. Remember we bought Alaska from Russia; the Communists want it back. China has gained such an advantage by past presidents that we can’t build a new war plane with out buying Chinese chips to operate it, a great national security problem inherited by President Trump.

Culturally the church and China are in a clash. The government is blowing up churches, putting Christians in jail, and Christians are baptizing 20,000 believers a day in basements in barrels and in the rivers and streams in the countryside. There is no argument in China about baptism being necessary for salvation.  Jesus said do it; so, you do it   without arguing.

With 120 to 130 million Christians in China and less than half that number Communists, why don’t they revolt? They respect the Romans 13 instruction about being in obedience to the authority and the powers to be. The Chinese have best learned how to deal with culture.

    There is a new battle on all over the 10/40 window from China to Turkey and in Africa with economic development. China has developed the computer-controlled, 200-miles-per-hour super train and expanding treaty agreements across their land world to the west by building rails and expanding ground service. In so doing providing overnight market for food stuff grown in S.E. Asia.

South African countries remember the stranglehold the British had by the oil embargo seeking to control the breakaway empire countries, have welcomed in the business people of China. China is growing millions of acres of caster weeds and building refineries in Africa to refine the fast growing weeds into motor oil, gasoline, fuel oil, and diesel, making these countries fuel independent. This economic culture is changing the allied arrangement and political map of the world.

   Christians are caught in the middle of all this and need to stick with their knitting, “And live at peace with all as long as it depends on you.” As much as many want to spread western capitalism everywhere, actually, Great Commission Christians do not have a dog in that fight. Our job is to be a nationalist at home and a Christian globalist in other countries, staying as much as possible out of their governmental business. Christians are living better in China than ever before, whether we like their conditions or not.  It is not our business what the labor rate is anywhere else in the world; the economic level is rising. Christianity was designed by God to thrive under every culture without our economic interference. Our clash is never over economics, but over the freedom above the ground to share the gospel, or the personal cost to go underground.

Today, using all the modern tech that we can, we are moving across sealed borders into closed neighborhoods with the gospel and winning millions to Christ with the “evil one-eyed monster” (TV) and satellite broadcasting. It is not a matter as to how culture is using something, but how can we use culture for the Lord.

The Christianity and culture clash began in this Epistle between Jesus and a Samaritan woman.  Jesus made a simple request: “a drink of water.” This broke all the cultural rules; Jesus didn’t care and she warmed up at once; within minutes they were friends. To Jesus it did not matter that their cultures were at war; they could be friends and he could share the good news with her, and she could bring the whole village out for a two-day meeting on the grounds. Jesus is dealing with a five times married, shacked up, half-breed woman and made her his first cross-cultural evangelist. How is that for an example of applying the Great Commission to sinners?

If we want to obey Jesus and need an example, let’s go back to Jesus or the Apostles for our example, not some Johnny-come-lately. Let’s use culture to promote Christianity where we can, ignore culture when possible, and stand strong in clashes with culture when necessary.