In March of last year, my best friend and I, gave a teaching on Kingdom Culture. We discussed ethnic and cultural awareness but also the big picture of the Heart of God for His people when it comes to His Family.
I believe the Holy Spirit wants us to be aware that the Kingdom we are seeking, the one that is coming, and the one that's already here, may be foreign to us because of our own biases and preferences. Not only when it comes to ethnic diversity and integration but also in our values and morality.
You cannot allow where you grew up and/or your family preferences to dictate your understanding of morality, worship, and things like holidays or Christian traditions. Do they align with scripture? What is your understanding of Hebrew Culture and traditions? This will determine your understanding of scripture, which believe it or not originated in Ancient Israel. Moses, Jesus, nor Paul lived in modern day Israel or your local Methodist Church . Once you dive into it all, you will find the various pieces connect. Breaking away from man-made religion is the first step to grasping Kingdom truth.
As much as we try to "think outside the box" it's really hard for most Christians. Instead we make the box bigger, you know, be "radical" but at the end of the day, most Christians still operate out of a box of preconceived notions. Such as good Christians go to service unless ill or God is not pleased. Well...not exactly. At the end of 2018, for a season, I felt the call to step out of the traditional Sunday church routine. Jesus was calling me closer. That season was amazing, enlightening and liberating. For many years prior, I got to enjoy the routine of going before the Father on Sunday mornings, worshipping Him and hearing Rhema word. But I also experienced the routine of church that hinders and quenches the Spirit and therefore stifflies true salvation and transformation in the people of God. That's why you can have someone who looks the part of a Christian but has a pitiful love walk. Over the years, I have endured the "business" of church growth, the politics, and preaching, that was, at times, based more on denominational dogma, than actual unfiltered, Logos Word. The sort of preaching that drains you, instead of filling you up.
Jesus came to set us free
This is the time of year we celebrate the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. I prefer to remember also, why He came in the first place. He sacrificed Himself for more than my salvation from hell, He came to liberate me from man-made religion. Me, you, and everyone. When reflecting on this, I can't help but become saddened by the excess of man-made religious thought and exercise that is all around me. We have all been affected by it, rather we know it or not. I think the Almighty longs for the day when His people will choose truth, over tradition. Tradition includes denominational filters on morality, for example, one denomination says it is okay to drink alcohol and another condemns it. Both can't be correct. One view takes its cue more from tradition rather than what the bible actually says. Another big tradition of course, is racism. The basis of which is also not biblical, although many have tried to make it so. The most prevalent form of racism in the Church, is what I call "ethnocentric thought patterns" (your cultural expression is inherently better than others) which greatly plague relations between brothers and sisters in the body of Christ.
your culture vs. kingdom culture
Looking at the pictures above, which could you imagine in your church service? I believe God can use ballet and the many cultural dances of Africa. I believe we sell ourselves short when we only seek to please those of our own culture. This works both ways. Making fun of Riverdance (Irish stepdance) is not cute, nor acceptable. I also believe that God is waiting for those bold enough to put aside their fears and cross over, not only with open arms but an open mind. And let me say this too, what is considered "modest" in your culture may not be considered modest in another. It used to be that in Europe, a woman showing her ankles was considered sluttish. Well in many cultures of the world, showing a little midriff is not even a big deal, so just chill.
I've heard people call certain cultural expressions "pagan." Excuse me? Your European culture was pagan too and Orthodoxy doesn't get to decide what is on God's mind. If you follow a Pope, that's cool, you do you. I follow the Holy Spirit and I'm writing this because I believe that the Holy Spirit is going to challenge our way of thinking in ways we didn't know was possible. Church as usual is generally divided and segregated; if not racially, it is so economically or something else.
After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;
There is so much talk about unity and diversity, yet for the past decade all I see is minor gaines. I believe this is because, especially in the south: you can have friends of other races but don't marry them because "the bible says 'be not equally yoked" Seriously? Are we not all One blood by Christ? Once filled with the Spirit are we not members of One Body? Should not our cultures all reflect the Love of Christ and His saving grace? So what is the problem?
The world says there is a black race and a white race. Which is mainly for social and political tactics and excludes billions of people. Truth is, we are all a magnificent spectrum of earthy tones found in nature. There are people with very little melanin in their skin who appear like pearls and other stones, ivory or the sands of the seas and most people of the earth have more melanin and appear like gold, precious stones, plants, spices, trees, honey, and on and on. Beautiful isn't it? Every shade of the human skin can be found in the ground of the earth where God formed us. Coincidence? No. We don’t know what Adam and Eve looked like but I imagine them carrying a bit of all of us between the two of them in a beautiful harmony our finite minds cannot fathom.
GAL 3:26-29 KJV
For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
The Father’s heart is for all of us to come into relationship with Christ and with each other. God has divine plans hidden in people all around the world and we cannot reach the epitome of Kingdom existence without the input of people who look different and/or speak a different language. It is likely that some promise you’ve been waiting on is wrapped in the very people that make you most uncomfortable.
Please feel free to leave your thoughts and comments! If there is anything you want to know more about or suggestions for topics please let me know!
Desiree Cummings is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Liturgical Dancer, Fitness Enthusiasts and Foodie that has been impacted by the goodness and love of Jesus. All these things are woven throughout her writings.