Changing Cultures: Cultural Markers of a New Kingdom
By Steven & Peggy Beverly
24 July 2017—Most people in the States may not know what it truly feels like to live outside of your own culture. In Sri Lanka, there are many indications that we are not in our own culture. Some of these cultural markers are on the surface and easily observable: dress, hair, driving, and eating are just a few that we have observed in Sri Lanka.
But there are cultural markers that are not as easily observed that are part of being Sri Lankan: age deference, hospitality expectations (especially at tea time), dating, classism, and other differences that we struggle to recognize.
Deeper still, there are cultural markers in Sri Lanka that we might never understand without the cultural history and social influences of being Sri Lankan: motives, responses to conflict, shame and honor, social merit, and much more.
We have been wrestling with culture in Sri Lanka, not Sri Lankan culture vs. American culture, but Sri Lankan culture vs. Kingdom Culture. Jesus’ teaching was essentially about who the King is, what God’s Kingdom would be like, and how to live and behave and interact as citizens of God’s Kingdom (Matthew 5; Ephesians 4; Colossians 3).
We are challenging our church leaders to see and understand their own cultural markers and then to see and understand the cultural markers of God’s Kingdom … and to recognize for themselves where the two are in conflict. We have been calling this “Kingdom Culture.” Huge. Huge. Huge. … Not just in helping the Sri Lankan church leaders reframe cultural influences on their lives, but in helping us examine our own cultural influences.
Every human culture, not just Sri Lankan culture, has cultural markers (norms, expectations, behaviors manifestations) that run directly counter to Kingdom Culture. “Love your enemy”? “Pray for those who persecute you”? No human culture promotes and values cultural markers like Kingdom Culture.
Our prayer for church leaders here in Sri Lanka and for our own life and mission is that the Holy Spirit continues to show us how to live as Kingdom Citizens as we seek to live out fully the Kingdom Culture that Jesus taught us. Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have been rescued from the kingdom of darkness and transferred into Christ’s kingdom (Colossians 1:13).
Excerpted from the Summer 2017 issue of the Beverlys’ newsletter. To read the full newsletter, learn more about the ministry in Sri Lanka, or support Steven and Peggy, click here.