We have come to another culture perhaps with much study of Anthropology, Cross-cultural Communication, and the like. These studies and a heart for God’s heart and purposes for the peoples, tribes, nations, and tongues (Revelation 7, II Peter 3:9), have conditioned us, taught us, and instilled in us a certain, unique perspective; this knowledge equips us with a particular mindset, a worldview. We can especially see this by looking back at old journal entries dictating sufferings and troubles caused by living in a new culture and compare our current attitude toward the same cultural issues spoken of by ourselves in the past. Our cross-cultural learning and growth also becomes very evident when we are with “newbies,” such as friends and family who are visiting or even people who’ve lived in the culture for sometime but have isolated themselves from it and never learned or dealt with it: we are sometimes aghast at the way we were once. “Was I actually like that?,” we ask ourselves. This position of ours is a necessity for working in and among those of another culture other than our mother culture. Our maturity as a culture-learner, or cutlturalist, is not taught to be applied back to our mother culture, and we return to our past culture with disdain, distaste, and disappointment. As we look back at America, the land we left, we must consider our position as cross-cultural people and look at the country and its culture in light of this position, which demands a true biblical perspective regarding any and all cultures.
We are professionals, experts, in the field of practical cross-cultural work, by comparison to others and by experience. We are implored to have an understanding in this field that is not ignorant, thus the requisite study, and that is also biblical as Christians seeking to glorify God by following his best as he works in an dthrough us.
In order to have a biblical understanding of culture, especially for those returning to the States from the field prone to “reverse culture shock/disgust” who need to critically yet biblically look at American culture, one must understand the difficulties of cross-cultural and mother-cultural work, which is includes the popular terms of “culture shock” and “culture stress.” This discussion will attempt to define and delineate these terms from a biblical regard. “Culture” itself will also be looked at and a biblical regard for living out God-glorifying lives with and within culture will be discussed.
The biblical understanding of culture is a necessary perspective to be had by God’s children, and this is especially important for dealing with going to the field and returning from the field to the “home” culture, the American culture.