My culture. Your culture. Our culture?
Growing up, I was surrounded by Christians whose primary goal in life was to be against the corrupt culture around them. As a part of that group, I found myself instructed to be against mainstream culture. There was just one problem: I had no idea what I was supposed to be against. "Culture" is a term that describes something nebulous because it is specific to particular times, places, and people. For example, my race, ethnic heritage, economic situation, language, dress style, music preferences, grooming habits, and learned behaviors are all a part of what makes up my culture. Because so many things combine to make up MY culture, it is not hard to see that other people will have different cultural expressions and experiences. So, if I was supposed to be countercultural, which aspects of my culture was I meant to rally against? Or was I supposed to be against cultures other than my own?
When I look at the elements of my culture, I can compare and contrast them to elements of other people's cultures. However, doing that makes it very easy for me to start judging other people as inferior to me. If they do not share my cultural values, then they must be deficient? Right? I'm pretty sure Jesus said that somewhere: "Go forth and make disciples of all nations....that look, think, and act just like you" (2 Speculations 1:11). Obviously, I'm being a little bit snarky. But, you get my point. Being countercultural can be confusing when we look at the smaller differences that make up the larger culture. As a young person, that is what I did too often.
Since I still believe that Jesus' life example and Scripture teach me to be different than the culture around me, I need to look at the bigger elements of my particular culture. I need to see if there are any places where those elements intersect with those of people who look, think, and act much differently than me. It is in that overlap that I will find what I can define as "our culture." In the next post in this series, I will identify some of those overlapping cultural places.
What are some of the ways that you define your culture? Leave a comment below or on Facebook/Twitter!