Tuesday, May 30, 2006

1 Corinthians 13 for cross-cultural workers

If I speak with the tongue of a national, but have not love, I am only a
resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I wear the national dress and understand the culture and all forms of
etiquette, and if I copy all mannerisms so that I could pass for a national, but
have not love, I am nothing.
If I give all I possess to the poor, and if I spend my energy without reserve,
but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love endures long hours of language study, and is kind to those who mock his
accent; love does not envy those who stayed home; love does not exalt his
home culture, is not proud of his national superiority;
Does not boast about the way we do it back home, does not seek his own
ways, is not easily provoked into telling about the beauty of his home country,
does not think evil about this culture.
Love bears all criticism about his home culture, believes all good things about
this new culture, confidently anticipates being at home in this place, endures
all inconveniences.
Love never fails: but where there is cultural anthropology, it will fail; where
there is contextualization, it will lead to syncretism; where there is linguistics,
it will change.
For we know only part of the culture and minister to only part.
But when Christ is reproduced in this culture, then our inadequacies will be
When I was in America I spoke as an American, I understood as an American,
I thought as an American; but when I left America I put away American
Now we adapt to this culture awkwardly; but He will live in it intimately: now I
speak with a strange accent, but He will speak to the heart.
And now these three remain: cultural adaptation, language study and love. But
the greatest of these is love.
—Author Unknown

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