What cultural lenses do you bring to your engagement with the gospel?
We default to our comfortable narratives, to the ones we've inherited, to the ones that sound right to us.
Pastor Ken Fong talked about this at MESC last week.
He asked us to imagine a community where parents and grandparents left their jobs and homes and immigrated to another place, for the sake of their children. Their children are told all their life that they need to achieve, to live up to their parents, to live a life worthy of the sacrifice their ancestors endured.
Now, preach the gospel. (Pastor Fong is so insightful here)
God himself left his comforts of heaven and came to earth. Earth. For us. He sacrificed for us, for our good and our salvation. And we now it's our turn to live lives worthy of the gospel.
Is this the gospel? Not exactly.
Now, Pastor Fong made it easy for us to see his Confucian cultural lens and the distortion it caused. He did this by scratching the lens, taking the invisible and making it visible. And I'm sure he could create an appropriate response.
We might be tempted, in this case, to make it our ambition to remove all of our cultural lenses, expecting to see the gospel with perfect clarity.
But we cannot remove our cultural lenses entirely. There is no such thing as trans-cultural space (even heaven will be filled with culture, Rev 7:9). We actually need our cultural lenses to navigate the world. They are a gift from God, scratched and imperfect for a reason.
Alone, we can know God well enough to love him. Together, and only together, we will see him clearly.
For more on this concept, check out Santa Biblia by Justo Gonzalez