(Part one of the Culture series)
Genesis 11:8-9 So the Lord scattered them from there over the whole earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel – because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.
(About heaven) Revelation 21:24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.
Revelation 21:26 The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it.
God loves the nations. He created them (Gen. 10:32) and sent them into the world. He called Abraham and used him to found the nation of Israel, through which He would bless all nations. (Gen. 12:1-3) Jesus will not return to judge the world till all nations have had a chance to hear the Gospel. (Matt. 24:14) He sent his disciples out to tell the world about the forgiveness of sins and how to be reconciled to God. (Matt. 28:19-20, Acts 1:8) Heaven is the ultimate multicultural celebration (Rev. 7:9) with all nations represented. And there is something so special to God about our nationality that we bring something of it into heaven with us. (Rev. 21:24, 26)
No doubt, we must lose something of our nationality as we grow in Christ. The scripture is clear that our citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20) and that He has our highest loyalty. Each culture also has inherent weaknesses within it that make it more difficult for its people to relate to God. But there is something about the cultures we’ve created that brings glory to Him. That somehow, He transcends language, culture, history, socio-economic status, education levels and geographical location. The things that divide humans in this world will help unite us in the next as they bring praise to God. Only He could do something so beautiful.
With that knowledge, it seems to me that it’s important for believers now to learn languages, to travel and to know people of different nationalities. God isn’t white, suburban or American. English isn’t His first language. It’s an amazing experience the first time you hear another believer praying in their heart language and you realize that the same God you know and love, is the same God they know and love.
Our nationality is an important spiritual trigger for us. Some things about where we were born draw us nearer to the heart of God. They are meant to be a blessing to the other nations. They bring glory to God. At the same time, some things about where we were born are like millstones hung around our neck. Worse than that, they are like millstones hung around our necks that most people aren’t even aware of. In the next series of posts, I’d like to explore some of these ideas about culture and how it affects how we relate to God a bit further.