Privileged to Blend-in
In our work here lately, we've been newly reminded that we are foreigners. Our way of dressing is foreign, our speech is foreign and out point of view is foreign. While we may not hold our dress, speech or viewpoint to be any better or worse than others', it does play a role in how people perceive us and how receptive they are to what we have to say.
The complexity of serving in a cross-cultural context is nothing new; two thousand years ago the apostles of the early church encountered a similar culture gap to what we are experiencing today.
1 Corinthians 9:19-21
19 Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ.20 When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ. When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law. Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law.21 When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ.
We are humbled by being misunderstood. It's frustrating to be potentially rejected for the cultural background we come from. With cross-cultural work, it's to be expected, but it isn't fun or comfortable. Despite this, we see it as a privilege to tackle these tough issues with our Belizean friends. It's a privilege to work through misunderstandings and come out the other side with greater understanding and respect for one another.
I think about chameleons and how adaptable they are to their environment. Their outer appearance changes, but they remain the same underneath. God isn't asking us to change who we are, rather to adjust the things that are only skin-deep.
As Paul wrote above, "I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ." If that means adapting my dress, speech or behavior, sign me up. He said, "When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law. Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law." If that means choosing to subject myself to occasional legalism, so be it. Christ humbled himself to the utmost. Any sacrifice he asks of me is a privilege.