Thursday, March 02, 2006

Cultural Learner


After 16 years of living in Spain, and much reading and reflection on the subject, I can't say I believe I know a whole lot better how to reach Spaniards for Christ than when I came. One thing I think I am learning, though, is that if I am to be used by God in any significant way, it will be through the path of the cross and the path of humility. And that means pain and being humbled.
I'm not advocating just being quiet and accepting the status quo. Sometimes the most humble thing to do is "step up to the plate" and say what needs to be said, without worrying too much about the consequences. If I believe God has given me insight into a particular issue, I am being selfish and a bad steward it I don't share that with others. But I've got to always remember that "while knowledge may make us feel important, it is love that really builds up the church" (1 Cor. 8.1). Attitude is everything.
As North American IMB missionaries in Europe, we hear a lot about things like "postmodernism", "church planting movements", "simple church", etc. And I'm not saying it's bad to read up on these things, and to have opinions. But so many times it is easy to fall into the trap of "I know best what this country needs".
More and more, I sense God leading me to concentrate on loving each stone, that is, each individual God is using as living stones to build up his spiritual temple (2 Peter 2.5). As a missionary in Spain, I believe this especially means my Spanish brethren. I need to honor and respect them, and do what I can to help each one to occupy the place in the "spiritual wall" that God has assigned them. It also includes my missionary colleagues.
I pray God will give me the grace to continue to see myself as a "cultural learner" and never think I have arrived at the point of being a "cultural expert".

1 comment:

stepchild said...

I'm encouraged by your humility. I totally agree with you about the danger of thinking we've got it all figured out. It seems like we're always reading books on postmodernism and going to conferences on postmodernism. May we never fall into the trap of thinking that labeling and stereotyping people would get them any closer to Jesus!
Thank you.