Monday, May 24, 2010

Talk Tuesday - Culture or Christ?

If you don’t know, I am from a small island in the Caribbean called Trinidad. My post this week is from the spiritual experience I had while living in Trinidad. I spent half my life there and half my life in Canada. I came to know Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior after a few years of finishing university in Canada. After becoming a Christian I looked back at how culture infiltrated the church in Trinidad.
When I was young I was really religious, but I was also really ‘Trini’. I loved Carnival, calypso and everything Trinidadian. My whole identity was wrapped up in the culture of Trinidad. Imagine a typical Trini would party, drink and gyrate on multiple people for two days straight (during our Carnival festival) and then go to church for ashes the next day. When I look back on how we used to behave I am so ashamed, but that was our culture. The cultural norms of the country was seeping into the church. To show you how strong culture is, when I first became a Christian I heard a preacher preach on how bad Toronto’s Carnival was, and I found myself becoming offended. I was so wrapped up in my culture that I did not see the sin the whole event represented. To make matters worse, when I went back to Trinidad, around the time of Carnival, I read a church bulletin where the priest said it is ok to go and 'free up yourself.'

How do we address sin when half the choir was out partying and drinking the night before? Do we say it is part of our culture? How do we keep our culture and still have our Christ? I believe Christ comes first and if our culture does not line up with the word of God then we have to say no. What has your experience been in your country? Is it Christ or Culture?

"...don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God." James 4:4

God Bless,

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Janelle said...


Andrew your experience is so close to home. I am Canadian, and there is so much of the Canadian culture that deceitfully comes into the church under the guise of "multiculturalism". There is a blending of false-god worship into many church services, which obscures the truth of how sinful our culture can be. From the music to television shows, magazines to shopping malls -- we are bombarded with anti-Christ images, words, and slogans.

Christ has called us to be a peculiar people of a royal priesthood, so we should look nothing like the world...actually the things of the world we should hate! But being aware of the "things of the world" only comes from immersion in the Word of God and seeking His face.

We can believe we are doing all the "right things", like going to church and singing on the choir... but what is in our hearts will eventually manifest itself. Does our heart desire the things of God or the things of the world?

It is almost like some people are comfortable living in contradiction to the Word of God, but because they desire to "get blessed" religion is held onto very tightly. People are tied to ritual rather than relationship...and it is a sad state of affairs.

However, Jesus will sift out the wheat and the tares, the sheep and the goats at the appointed time. We as Christians need to be more focused on preaching the Good News to everyone (this includes the people in the church)!

Andrew and Natasha, I thank you for going here, because too many people shy away from examining themselves to see if they simply have religion rather than Christ. Praise God that He is using the two of you to remind the Body of Christ to be ready.

Thank you and God Bless!

Anonymous said...

My new faith in Christ had - at first - and to some degree today - alienated me from my family. My 'dying to self' of my old life and all that I was, was interpreted as rejection of my culture and of them.

These are examples from my family:
1) I didn't want to go to the cemetary each quarter anymore to burn incense and pray to my ancestors). 2) Chinese New Year is ALL about the horoscope and I didn't want to know how auspicious the year of X was or what it meant for my particular birth year or my marriage.
3) I didn't want to 'talk' to my ancestors or know what they 'said'
4) I didn't care if superstition dictates that my rooms be configured in a specific way (Feng Shui)

My parents were particularly offended and claimed all - esp -ancestor worship) was not a religion and shouldn't contradict my new beliefs...that it's tradition and my culture.

Either way, it didn't sit comfortably with me.

I have family members who are Roman Catholic, and truly love the Lord...but ...they don't discriminate against any of my listed examples above.

Can culture co-exist with serving Christ? Maybe in some areas, but I'd say overall, it just can't. You have to take a stand for Jesus. Be true to the new creation you are in Christ, and be true to fellow Christians and non-Christians who are watching us. Choir members 'backing it up' on Saturday night and then singing hymns on Sunday? Not right at all.