Countering Culture

May 2013

Being American, I naturally see the world with a certain bias. In my last blog, I mentioned that we often let our culture color the lens in which we see the world. Subsequently, we see the world based on our personal experiences and indwelt biases, which can limit our ability to care for others and share the Gospel effectively. I believe that if we want to take the Gospel to every culture, we can’t dilute it with our cultural bias.

So, here is a quick quiz. You might be American-Centric if:

  1. You think of Africa as one giant desert (probably thanks to National Geographic).
  2. You think that Hurricane Sandy was that last major natural disaster in the world.
  3. You think that coffee and doughnuts should be a normal part of the church service.
  4. You would feel un-patriotic by calling soccer “football”. You also think Cricket is just the name of a bug.
  5. You think that pizza was invented by Americans.
  6. You think that the Beatles were an American Band. Or maybe you thought that of the Spice Girls.
  7. You have never prayed for a country besides the United States.
  8. You think everyone except Americans have an accent. Or you wonder why everyone doesn’t just learn English.
  9. You think that Al Jazeera is a bad group from the Middle East.
  10. You can name more States in the US than countries in the world.

 

If you did not pass the test, don’t worry. Here are a few simple steps I believe everyone can take to become less American-Centric and more aware of our world.

  1. Read an international news source. There are many out there like BBC and Al Jazeera. None of them are perfect, but they will give you news stories that are outside the US (and certainly not American-Centric). Take the initiative weekly to find out thoroughly what is going on in the world.
  2. Make international friends. If you don’t have any friends who are from another country, then find some! Maybe there is an outreach program at your church for internationals or maybe in your community. If not, consider starting one. The United States is an incredible place to meet people from all over the world who come to study, travel, or work.
  3. Pray! If you are keeping up with steps 1 and 2, you should have plenty of things to pray for. God is completely aware and deeply concerned with what happens in the world. Find out what God is passionate about and let him burden your heart with the same passions. I recommend visiting Operation World’s website (http://www.operationworld.org/), which is a great resource to find out specific prayer needs for countries around the world.
  4. Lastly, go! Spend a few weeks out of the country, on missions trip or just experiencing another culture. Make it a regular habit to get out of the US and experience another way of life. If you are fortunate to make international friends, then you already have a place to stay! If you’re a student, consider studying abroad.