Jesus welcomed the people, taught them about the Kingdom of God and healed those in need. Luke 9:11

Seeds of the Kingdom

Is God's Culture Above My Own?

by Yulia Kariuki

30 January 2016

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Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children.
Ephesians 5:1, NLT

I was captivated by thoughts of God's Kingdom recently. I thought about how, when we receive Jesus into our hearts, he’s our Saviour and King, and we enter His kingdom.
As I’ve worked for quite some time in an international environment I’ve come to realise that a person’s culture plays a huge part in the way they behave, or deal with situations, for example, in how they communicate with authority figures. So I’ve found the key to good communication is to be aware of cultural differences and take this into account.

Our views of life are largely determined by the culture of the country we come from, and our family beliefs. For instance, being born in Russia, I was brought up in a culture where people are intolerant towards others. They’re also careful about smiling at others, or being friendly, unless they have a good reason to do so. That reason has to be obvious to everyone, or they’d be considered stupid.

So, as you can imagine, when a Russian person meets someone from a more ‘friendly’ nation, there’s inner conflict and they get confused about how to respond. They’d be looking for the reason why someone’s being friendly, while that person is being friendly because it’s just the way they are.

We have a tendency to bring our ‘culture’ with us into God's Kingdom. I’m not talking here about the beauty of each nationality and culture, which brings a rich diversity to the world.

In God's Kingdom Jesus is the King of kings, and His reign is without end (Luke 1:33). In His kingdom we must have His culture. But what does it look like? We could write many books in answer to this question, touching on different aspects of life, but, to put it in simple words, I would say that God's culture is when we live according to the Word of God, do what pleases Him, and praise His Holy Name.

Our ultimate goal is to please the Lord, and worship Him in our approach to life, to people, and how we handle situations, such as conflicts. God's culture is above our own. It has different purposes and goals. So, when we come to God, we must bring to the cross our own cultural traditions and practices which contradict His.

I can see that my Russian culture of intolerance towards people is contrary to God's will, as it doesn't fulfil His command to love one another. Jesus said ‘As I have loved you, you must love one another’ (John 13:34).

So I must choose His culture above my own. And I believe that, if all of us looked carefully at our own different traditions and cultural beliefs, we’d see something that doesn’t line up with the Word of God and His culture. But, when we do see it, are we willing to let it go?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I thank You for making me, me; for my country and my cultural traditions, and I pray that You would help me to see and let go of the things that are contrary to Your Word, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Yulia Kariuki was born in Russia and studied translation and interpretation as her profession. She joined Ellel Ministries in 2009, after graduating from university. The same year she met her husband and Bernard and Yulia served on team for many years both in Scotland and at Ellel Grange.


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