Our culture may not define us but it affects how we think and act, what we become accustomed to and decide to join in with or not. We can deliberately set ourselves apart from the norm or allow the thoughts, words and opinions of others to shape how we behave and react to a certain extent. It can be hard to walk an independent path.
As a Christian in a mostly secular society, I’m often made aware how my inner life can differ from others. Because my faith affects how I think, what I believe, the choices I make, and what I decide to allow into my life. Although we cannot totally gate-keep our souls from every unwanted influence or temptation, it’s always worth trying, with God’s help.
Jesus lived a singular life. He wasn’t completely a product of the society He grew up in. He flew solo with courage and focus, walked an often lonely path of total integrity and obedience to the Father’s will. Jesus lived a life of deepest compassion, with a selfless kind of love we’re not fully capable of.
Yet the Good News He came to proclaim reveals the way to a changed life, mind and heart. We can experience transformed thinking and have the gift of Holy Spirit living within, empowering us to be the best possible version of ourselves by God’s mercy and grace.
You were bold and unafraid
to challenge the status quo
the culture you grew up in
the way of life a Jewish man
would follow as closely as he
said his prayers and read the Torah
To outside eyes you seemed
reckless sometimes, different
from the others, one of a kind
because of how you lived and loved
and welcomed women disciples
into your teaching and your heart
For you appreciated each person’s
uniqueness, what made them tick
even if they couldn’t always behave
in ways the culture and society itself
condoned or thought was appropriate
Your very self-possession led others
to mark you out as special, unafraid
to challenge the wrongs you saw
and the injustices you knew deep
down you had come to right at last
As our Messiah, not everyone would
welcome you with open arms but you
didn’t let it deter you from your task
of living out God’s mission, and revealing
his glorious grace, forgiveness and love
My poem has been inspired by this week’s five-minute-friday prompt of “culture” and also by viewing the History channel’s part drama and part documentary series about the life of Jesus. It’s well worth seeing because it offers a perspective from a selection of the gospels’ major characters, plus thoughtful comments from ministers, theologians and historians.
Each episode uncovers a personal insight into what it might have been like to encounter Jesus during His time on earth. You can find out more here. And you are warmly welcome to join in with the fabulous #FMF writing community here.
Let’s be confident in God’s ability to be here with us, to make a way no matter what obstacles and challenges we might face. He will equip us to live in the world without being one with the world in the areas where faith says no.