Can we figure out the Bible without cultural contexts?

There I am, standing in the parking lot, and a person who comes up and yells “There’s a murderer in your car!”  I notice the person is from a different culture than me.

Do I run?

OH YES, I run!

Let’s look at some specific examples to see how ridiculous and truly offensive I would be for me to disregard the warning based on my ignorance of the stranger’s culture:

“I’m sorry, but I can’t run from the murderer, because you are from Ethiopia, and I don’t really know much about Ethiopia.”

“Are you talking to me?  I can’t understood you because you are wearing a sari.”

“No, no, no.  I can’t run from the murderer because I don’t know how your culture relates to mine.  You see, you’re from Canada, and I don’t know all your customs, so it’s a no go.”

Ridiculous? Yes.

Offensive? Yes.

We are all humans, and we instinctively know how to relate to each other.

I once visited Hungary, and I found that, even though I knew only a handful of words, I could recognize compassion, generosity, empathy, and patience, because these virtues don’t belong to any one culture.  They belong to God.

I could also easily recognize anger, meanness, and abuse, because these vices don’t plague any one culture, either.  They belong to Satan.

The virtues and vices described in the Bible are in every culture.  Regardless of what I do or don’t understand about Jewish or Egyptian or Roman culture . . . I can understand God.  God is above all cultures, and yet He stepped into Jewish culture . . . and changed the world forever.

And He invites every one of us to become a part of His family.

We need no cultural context to understand Him.

“Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Then pointing with his hand at his disciples, he [Jesus] said, “Here are my mother and my brothers, because whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:48b-50, ISV)


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