Intercultural unity — when people of different cultures fellowship deeply together in unity — is good for the health of the Christian community. Let me share some of my thinking:
- Intercultural unity can expose unhealthy ways in which our culture can become one and the same with our faith — as if there is no other valid way of worship that pleases God other than our way.
- Intercultural unity can expose ethnocentrism, a cultural arrogance that assumes our way is the right way.
- Intercultural unity can expose syncretism, the merging of absolute truth with optional cultural practices.
This is what the Jerusalem Council (in Acts 15) accomplished. The Jewish leaders, under direction of the Holy Spirit an at the uncomfortable assistance of those ministering to Gentiles, realized that their customs were not essential for pleasing God.
When you think of all that the Jewish leaders laid down at the foot of the cross, and what little they retained, you have to admire their sacrificial obedience. But what a benefit for the kingdom of God! Their gracious conclusion (Acts 15:28-29) unleashed exponential growth among the Gentiles for centuries to come.
But the tipping point had to come. The weight of Gentile acceptance of the gospel had to, at some point, overpower culturally Jewish dominance of the Way. So it was to their credit that the pillars of the Jerusalem church saw the inevitability of change and cooperated with the Spirit’s new wine skins.
Such changes have continually happened ever since, and in our day the rising tide of immigration is pressuring the dominant church to yield. If leaders will take a lesson from Peter and James, we will see what the Spirit is doing in our generation, one in which no ethnic group will hold a majority, one in which people from all nations now call the U.S. home.
Like the founding Jewish apostles, we can view this as an opportunity to be seized. Rather than retrenching in the fortress of cultural Christianity, we can take an honest look at our syncretism and take gradual but courageous steps to pare down the things that are “essential” and welcome into the fold a broad spectrum of expressions of following Jesus.
I unashamedly swiped this post from the Trinity International blog found here. I believe learning from others in this way reminds us that God is at work around the world, that the Spirit is giving wisdom, that God speaks every language, and that we all need a learners heart.
What follows is the Nepali version of the “Five Daily Disciplines for Devotees of Jesus”(पाचवटा प्रतिदिन् अनुशासन). For the one who has given their life to the Lord Sri Jesus, these yagnas are acts that can be done daily as an expression of devotion (bhakti) and faith (biswas). I will include below the Nepali and English translation.
[Five Great Sacrifices / Disciplines]
१. इश्वर यजन [Discipline of God-worship]
तपाईंको प्रेम जीवनभन्दा श्रेष्ट छ, यसकारण मेरा ओठले तपाईंको महिमा गर्नेछन. (भजन ६३:३) [Your love is better than life, so my lips with glorify you. (Bhajan 63:3)]
२. शास्त्र यजन [Discipline of Scripture Study]
तपाईंका वचन मेरा गोड़ाका निम्ति बत्ती, र मेरो बाटोको निम्ति उज्यालो हो. (भजन ११९:१०५) [Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path (Bhajan 119:105)]
३. पितृ यजन
[Discipline of Honoring Parents and Elders]
आफ्ना बाबु र आमालाई आदर गर, कि जुन देश तिमीहरुलाई परमप्रभु आफ्ना परमेश्वरले दिनुहुन्छ, त्यहाँ तिमीहरुको आयु लामो होस्. (प्रस्थान २०:१२) [Honor your father and mother, so that you will live long in the country that the Lord your God gives you. (Prasthaan 20:12)]
४. मानुष्य यजन [Discipline of Service to other People]
समस्त व्यवस्था एउटी वचनमा पूरा भएको छ, “तैंले आफ्नो छिमेकीलाई आफूलाई झैँ प्रेम गर्.” (गलाती ५:१४) [In one word the entire law is completed, “Love your neighbor just as yourself.” (Galaatee 5:14)]
५. सृष्टि यजन [Discipline of Creation Care & Stewardship]
आफ्नो निम्ति पृथ्वीमा धन-सम्पत्ति नथुपर, जहाँ कीरा र खियाले ती नष्ट पार्छन् र जहाँ चोरहरुले गर फोरेर ती चोर्छन्. तर आफ्नो निम्ति स्वर्गमा धन-सम्पत्ति थुपार, जहाँ कीराले वा खियाले नष्ट पार्दैन, र चोरले पनि चोर्दैन. किनकि जहाँ तिम्रो धन हुन्छ, त्यहीँ तिम्रो मन पनि हुन्छ. (मत्ती ६:१९-२१) [Don’t keep treasures for yourself on earth where insects and rust can destroy and where thieves can break into your house and steal. But keep for yourselves treasure in heaven where insects and rust cannot destroy and where thieves do not steal. For where you treasure is, there your heart will also be. (Mattee 6:19-21)]
What would you say are 5 daily disciplines for the Jesus follower? Look what the Nepali version says.