Making the Foreign, Native: Connecting with Culture on Three Levels

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Cultural awareness is very important in Christianity. We get focused on this when it comes to international missions, especially full-time, long-term, over-seas missionaries. They can spend years studying language and culture in order to be effective in a new content. It is an attempt to make the foreign native to us. It is to identify with those we reach out to. Again, we heavily emphasize this with foreign missions.

But there are two other levels we need to think about this principle on.

The first is biblical study. In order to understand the text you have to enter into a culture and a language that is foreign to us. We must study to make the foreign more native to our understanding…to immerse ourselves in another world with layers of meaning that are not quickly understood by our ears because of the third level and that is our own culture.

If we are going to be effective in evangelizing our own backyard we must be just as much a student of culture as the missionary going over-seas. We must get in tune with our own culture. We must immerse ourselves in our own neighborhood. We should spend time learning our history, development of our worldview, and working to understand the underpinnings of Western society.

Be a student of culture. It will enrich your life, your relationships and your effectiveness in sharing your faith in your own backyard.

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