3) Cross cultures to build relationships

Helen Bell | Jan 5th, 2013

Intro

1) Understand your Christian worldview

2) Challenge alternative worldviews

Challenging worldviews is a long-term strategy. It takes time to get to know people, understand what they believe and work out whether they live it out. It takes time for them to do the same to us. To challenge worldviews we need to cross cultures and build long-term, trusting relationships with people who are different from us. Effective mission begins with relationships not programs and processes.

In some ways this goes against instinct. Most of us naturally gravitate towards people we feel comfortable around and this is often people like us. So to cross cultures we need to move out of our comfort zones. But it is our responsibility to do this. Our God became human to save us from our sin. He initiated a relationship with us and he calls us to do likewise with others.

So be hospitable and invite a variety of people into your life (Heb 13:1-2). Invite them into your home and out with your friends. Invite them into conversations by talking about topics they can participate in. If they speak English as a second language, slow your speech down and pronounce your words clearly. And if you still don’t understand each other, laugh about it and change the topic.

Love your non-Christian friends as Christ loved you (1 John 4:7-12). The first Christians attracted people by their care of the needy. That should still be the case today. It's a rare person who is converted by intellectual arguments alone. Our visible love should adorn the gospel and verify our claim that Christ not only forgives but defeats sin.

Remember that such love covers over a multitude of misunderstandings. It allows us to apologise for the cultural mistakes we unknowingly make and forgive those made by others. It allows us to challenge the non-Christian beliefs and practices of our friends on the basis that we are seeking to care not judge. It allows them to challenge us.

And in all this remember humility. People believe all sorts of ridiculous and damaging things and there but by God's grace go we. In his mercy God has shown us the truth that is in Christ Jesus. Pray that he does likewise to those around us.

  

[1] In his book The Universe Next Door, James Sire lists a number of key questions and answers that different worldviews address.