“Living By Faith In The Son Of God!”(Gal.2:15-20).
The other day a colleague remarked to me that of all the places where he has worked, it is only in Bali that Christianity has blended so well with traditional religions and culture. The danger herein is that whenever there is such a blend, syncretism may be the practice. This is especially so when we seek to “Africanize Christianity,” instead of “Christianizing Africa.”
Of course, there is no unique gospel culture. In every clime it is necessary to gospelize the culture. But there is no better way to do this than by culturizing the gospel with the aspects of culture that are not inimical to the gospel.
The incarnation took place within a specific cultural context. Jesus was a very cultural person in his food, dressing, especially his mastery of the language which is the expression of a people’s cultural and religious beliefs. His use of parables – extended form of proverbs demonstrates how much he used his cultural context to explain heavenly kingdom realities.
In continuing the work and teaching of Christ, we should copy his example by utilizing what is useful within the cultures, and intentionally moving away from the cultural practices which cannot accept the gospel.
Once we embrace the cultural practices that are not opposed to the gospel, we should not play the hypocrite when we are maybe in the company of those who introduced the gospel to us – unfortunately using their own Western cultural categories.
Peter became one such hypocrite by moving away from Gentiles with whom he had been freely interacting. He joined the Jews who came from James and behaved as if he had not already appreciated the Gentiles as they were in their uncircumcision. His action was destructive as “other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray” Paul confronted Peter to his face when he “saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel(Gal.2:14).
The freedom, knowledge and clarity which the gospel brings comes by faith in Christ alone. In faith we have died to the old law so that we might live for God.
Like Paul it should become the confession of the faith of anyone of us: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
The question for reflection is, If Christ lives in me, am I conscious that he lives in me as reflected in my words, thoughts and deeds? If not, how do I improve?
Sunday prayer: Holy Spirit prod me daily, reminding me that Christ lives in me. Amen!
Have a blessed Sunday! Peace be with you!
Rev Babila Fochang.