02.28.13

Living in two cultures

Posted in Ancona, church, family, kids, Newsletters at 2:13 pm

I realized the other day how Italian my kids really are. Based on recent events in the US, the topic of gun control came up. I think for the average Italian, the fact that most Americans can get and keep a gun is a little scary. Guns would never been seen as a defensive weapon, but an offensive one. So our oldest was talking about how crazy it is that so many Americans have guns. He speaks American English. He has American parents. He’s somewhat aware of American culture. But inside, instinctually, he’s Italian.

It used to be really hard for me as a dad to see just how not-American they are. I felt that maybe I had done them some kind of disservice by not educating them about a place that I loved so much.

But I gradually began to see what an advantage it can be to be so aware of two different places. My kids are able to dissect culture in a way most kids aren’t. And probably in a way that not even Heidi and I are able.

Which I think is a really good thing. John 15 shows us the two cultures that Christians have contact with: the world and the Kingdom of God. Sometimes, as citizens of the Kingdom of God, we have to be able to really look at the world that surrounds us and be able to decide what is sin and what isn’t. As citizens of the Kingdom, we have to pick apart the culture and (with the help of the Spirit) decide if all the habits and assumptions that are normal in a culture actually keep people away from the Kingdom. My kids do naturally what it takes some of us a bit longer to do. The experience of growing up in two different cultures (Italian and American) has helped them live as citizens in two other cultures (the world and the Kingdom of God).

And really, isn’t that a big part of church planting? Aren’t we called to be relevant and call the world to repentance and teach them to live in God’s Kingdom? As believers, we’re sent into the world as ambassadors of God’s Kingdom, with the goal of helping expand the city walls. It’s what we teach our church members to do, and I think the better we do at examining culture the better citizens we are, and the more mature we become as believers.

Can I ask you to pray for our church as we learn what is good and God-honoring in our culture, and what needs to get thrown out or redeemed?