• by Stephan Joubert

Cultural servants for Jesus


In my childhood years some expressions used in the church sounded Greek to me. I was reminded of this recently when I read a cartoon about Hagar and his friend Eddy. A preacher walks past them, shouting “Repent!”. Hagar then wonders what this means. A clearly bored Eddy tells him: “I think he wants us to repaint the house!” How did “repent” suddenly become “repaint”? Perhaps such cultural misunderstandings happen to us as well. We, as followers of the Lord, should understand the language and culture of our time. If we don’t, no one will understand us, and we won’t understand them either. Paul was a master at reading the culture of his time. Not only was he multilingual, he knew the cultures in which he worked very well. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 9 that the Jews felt he was a Jew, and Greeks thought he was Greek. No, he wasn’t a chameleon; he was a servant of Christ. His reasons are clear: he wanted to introduce people to Jesus. He led people to Jesus in their own cultures! This is our mission too.