Embracing the Middle: Thoughts on Culture and Gospel

Our time in Guatemala was fantastic. My two oldest children had a blast. Even though we were in a completely different culture, we seemed quite comfortable. For some people culture shock happens on the way into a new culture. For others, it happens on the way back to their culture of origin. Our team in Guatemala discussed this the night before we left to come home. This reminder helped me to navigate the cultural differences.

Part of our conversation that evening was on how the new culture affects us. Shawn Smith, our mission director, illustrated this by calling the culture of origin, square, and the new culture, circle. If someone from a square culture spends time in circle culture, he will begin to appreciate some circle ways of doing things. His experiences in the circle culture will change his perspective. He will know that he is not a circle, but he may also feel that he is not quite square anymore either

squircleIn our conversation, we coined a word, squircle.

Living as a squircle will have its challenges and benefits, but either way it will be a new normal.

As Christians, we are in some ways a squircle. We have experienced the love of God. We’ve received the grace of new life. We have seen the example of Jesus’ earthly life. We have embraced the hope of the gospel — all things put to rights and all things made new.

These experiences change us. We don’t fit any longer in the world as we know it. We are still in process toward becoming like Jesus. This is the now and not yet of the kingdom of God. We find ourselves in the middle. It’s in this middle place that people of God can make the most difference (granted we don’t wall ourselves in to preserve our “squircleness”).

With all cuteness aside, my prayer is that when we find ourselves in this in between place, we will realize that we are not alone. This is where we find Jesus and his people. Remember, we love God best when we love other well. This can only be done from the middle.

Grace and peace,

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