Monday, May 23, 2011

Repent, Believe, Follow: Worldview In Words

If you ask a Russian about his conversion he/she will generally talk about the day they “repented.”

Ask that same question to a North American and they might very well say it was they day they believed, got saved or trusted in Christ. (Interesting thought…you “trusted”?)

Muslim background Christians in Iraq might frame their conversion as becoming followers of Isa (Jesus), meaning that they might maintain much of their cultural belief, but rather put their emphasis on following Jesus rather than Muhammad.

The difference in Russians, Americans and Iraqis in their confession of faith is more than mere semantics. The distinction lies at the core of who they are as a people and how they express their decision of faith. Russians and Americans are “guilt” cultures. For a Russian or Ukrainian, salvation is less about faith than it is about repenting for one’s sins before a Holy God.

Individualistic Americans, while guilt driven, take a softer approach to their conversion, as though they were doing God a favor in “trusting” in Him. Trusting is a good thing for Americans as it acknowledges that we trust God more than we do ourselves and, for a self-sufficient driven society, that's a big deal.

Muslims and Buddhist are “shame” cultures. Family and clan ties run deep. It’s the holistic dynamic of the society that is all-important therefore being a follower of Jesus is done with deliberate hesitation. Being baptized, while a big deal for guilt cultures, is seen as bombastic to those who want to maintain harmony and equilibrium in shame cultures. To cause shame on family members for ones individual decision is not seen as courageous but rather selfish and arrogant, two offences that is unpardonable in such societies.

Words have meaning within context. In studying culture, learn what words mean to those who speak them. Repent, believe, trust, submit…these are the keys to understanding the worldview of others.