A while back I was challenged to think about the way I dealt with culture. I heard the challenge described in these two aspects that are to be held in tension: high context and low context. I’m not going to go in depth about how these cultures function. For that, I recommend this blog.
But one thing that did stick out was how I need to continue growing and adapting. I come from what is generally considered a low-context culture (the United States), but have been living in a high context culture (Taiwan) for nearly a decade. I’ve seen myself change in many ways over the last few years. For example, I sometimes avoid directness more than I did in college. I often find myself expecting people to read my body language and pick up on what I want, rather than telling them explicitly. In some ways, this may be good. Perhaps, I’m naturally finding ways to connect with Taiwanese.
While this may be beneficial (or potentially harmful depending on how you look at it), I want a Kingdom Culture more than I want to belong to any particular other culture. I appreciate the example we have in Jesus. He lived an “incarnational-hopeful culture,” in which he could meet us at our level and experience life with us, while preventing himself from diverging off the path of what He knew was right. Ultimately, He was able to honor people (John 4, woman at the well) regardless of culture, but also call people out when necessary (basically every time He talks to Pharisees, see John 8:44 if you need proof).
My prayer is that each of us would learn to discern the way Jesus did: connected and relevant in the cultural context while inviting into the glory of Heaven.