EMERGING VALUES ~ CULTURAL AWARENESS
Cultural awareness for those in the emerging church implies that we become educated and aware of the culture and cultures that are part of the society in which we live. As a transplanted Brit, living in Canada, who is also a product of the French culture of the 1960’s, I well understand the multicultural dynamic at work in the dominion of Canada.
As a Christian, I have come to understand that the Gospel, the good news is more than the salvation of souls, and includes the redeeming and restoring of all things, including the preservation of the environment with sustainable growth, and a myriad of social and economic issues.
To be culturally aware as emerging Christians, means to be actively engaged in building relationship with those who live in our society, creating consensus and understanding about what we can do together, to bring hope and resolution to the whole gamut of problems that we are facing in society at large.
Authenticity and transparency, and honesty, and understanding are fostered in an engagement and conversation where all the people come together and dialog and come to a consensus on the issues at hand. There are no cultures that are Christian, but there are all kinds of Christians that are within a diversity of cultures. As an emerging Christian I find that those who are wired as emergents are suited to deal with this sea of change, as we embrace the diversity of culture.
Culture is best defined as the quality in a person or society that arises from a concern for what is regarded as excellent in arts, letters, manners, scholarly pursuits, and other such things. We believe the best that comes from and through a particular culture, comes from the God who is the source of all life and all that is good, and is given its greatest expression in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Jesus built bridges to others, those who were Aramaic, Judean, Samaritans, Greeks and Romans, in a plethora of cultural diversity.
The narratives in the book of Acts reveals that same passion in the hearts of the apostles, and the challenges to the exclusionary mindset of what became known as the Judaizers, who attempted to force on new Christians, all the customs, traditions, rules and regulations and laws of Judaism. The Early Church knew that Jesus did not come to give a new religion but a restored relationship to God.
The question for the emerging church is not whether, but how can we best express that reality in our own day, to become a bridge to the diverse cultural expressions in which we live, and become a conduit for the breaking out of the Kingdom of God that transcends and embraces people of all cultures?