Culture and Faith

It is easy to confuse one’s culture with one’s faith.  Our culture is about customs and socially acceptable practices and behaviors.  Our faith is about our relationship with God and growing and becoming more like one’s God.   Culture is about the way we dress and what music and foods we enjoy or don’t enjoy.  Faith is about morality and how we treat each other.  How often through the years have I not only seen immorality thrust upon others in attempts not to make people like Jesus but to make them like us.
I have been guilty.  In my mistaken zeal I championed that all our students at our school in Africa wear neckties when coming to church.  I sent young men back to their dorms to “finish dressing” before they could be counted present at church.  How often have I judged people by the items in their grocery carts and chastised a fellow faculty member for his politics.
Now years later I realized how misguided and unChrist-like I was. Jesus’ brother James wrote, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”  Please note the admonition is to keep oneself unspotted and not our neighbor.  Paul wrote, “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:14.
We all have personal tastes, likes and dislikes.  That is okay.  We just need to be careful not to censure someone because they like vanilla and we like chocolate.  Since we cannot go back and undo we can rejoice that God understands and is quick to forgive.