20 November, 2007

Culture or Bible

The Bible is the authority by which we should live our lives as followers of Jesus Christ.

Culture is what largely determines how we behave as a people group.

But what happens when culture goes against Bible teaching?

Sure, the answer is an easy one. We need to obey the Word of God instead of conforming to culture. The reason I bring up this topic is that I have had to really pay attention to the difference between culture and Bible as I seek to adapt to the new culture I am in here in Costa Rica.

Because I was so familiar with "American Culture" (or at least the culture of Kansas City, MO), it was fairly easy to identify elements of that culture that did not line up with the Bible. But here in Costa Rica, I am learning new elements of culture all of the time. With each new part of the culture I am exposed to I must examine it in light of God's Word.

Most of the culture clearly falls on one side or the other, but there are a few things I have had to take a closer look at. I want to give one example, but please understand that I am not trying to complain about the culture, only to make my point.

Driving a car in San Jose, Costa Rica is an adventure. Part of the culture in regards to driving is that in general it is every driver for themselves. It is defensive driving to the extreme. You have to expect people to do the unexpected becuase they will. (Maybe the unexpected needs to become what I learn to expect?). Anyway, it is uncommon to let anyone into traffic ahead of you, even if they are just trying to get onto the road and not "cut" in line. So I was faced with a question. Surely courtesy, putting others before yourself, and kindness are biblical qualities. So these qualities should affect the way I drive here should they not?

Culture or Bible? In this particular case it seems to be one or the other. I want to choose Bible even if it means I make it to my destination 2 minutes later.

Most elements of a culture do not go against the principles of the Word of God. But for those things that do, I must be careful to not go with the flow.

Only dead fish swim with the current. :-)

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