IT ALL COMES BACK TO CULTURE!
HeavensUp blog is about setting our eyes on things above (Col 3.1). It is about discovering and dialoguing about how to live KINGDOM CULTURE – God’s ways and thoughts – the redeemed, righteous life He has bought us for and brought us into to.
Before we talk Kingdom Culture, let us talk CULTURE. I find culture very, very interesting. It explains so much, how we react and live our lives as individuals, families, organisations and nations.
WHAT IS CULTURE?
We do not even realize it, but culture is so important in developing who we are. It is also significant in how we perceive and interpret the world we live in. We understand the surface of culture, but 9 times out of 10 we are not even aware exactly how much we are affected by the culture we grow up in.
Professor Edgar Schein, a professor emeritus at the MIT Sloan School of Management, gives a great picture of organisational culture. He explains culture as an iceberg. His metaphor makes it easy to understand the workings of culture in every arena where culture exists … that means literally every arena where two or more people are in community, for example: couples, families, businesses, organizations, churches, neighbourhoods, cities, nations, ethnicities, parts of the world etc.
I want to present and explain how culture is described in the iceberg metaphor. Below is a picture of an iceberg and some explanation taken from Edgar Schein’s organisational culture [Schein, E. (2017). Organisational Culture. New Jersey: Wiley.].
The largest part of the iceberg
– the part that is under the water and which is not seen.
This is our assumptions about how the world works. It is the very core of our perceptions of ourselves, of others and of the world we live in. From a Christian point of view, it is also how we perceive the person and ways of God. It is the core of our belief system and generally inhabits our unconscious or subconscious mind. Often we are not aware of our cultural basic assumptions…we just behave and interpret and perceive through it.
This unseen part of the iceberg is influenced by others around us through sense knowledge (i.e. our 5 senses: sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell) which we accumulate from the moment we are born.
It is our upbringing; it is our environment. It is also our own thoughts and experiences with the types of knowledge we encounter. When we are born, we immediately start to conform to the cultural knowledge around us through our 5 senses. This becomes and defines our REALITY.
The smaller part of the iceberg
– the part that is above water and which is seen.
Sometimes we consciously develop our values, our society systems, procedures etc. based on our culture. The reality of our culture becomes evident in how we react, build, establish our world around us. This also includes on the very large scale of society. For example, in the Western culture our culture is based both in Christianity and Humanism. The evidence of this is seen in our democratic values, our constitutions, the days we celebrate and make into public holidays etc. We prioritize what we think is right and wrong and the physical things we do, for example, art, jokes, media, museums, traditional holidays and celebrations etc. are all evidence of our deeper basic assumptions lying hidden in our culture.
Why is this relevant when we speak living an authentic Christian life?
Our human culture is formed by things on the earth. Our perceptions are formed through our sense knowledge which are our five senses: what we physically see, hear, taste, touch and smell.
It is also formed through ideologies, which defined means: ‘the body of doctrine, myth, belief, etc., that guides an individual, social movement, institution, class, or large group’. (“Ideology” Dictionary.com)
When we are not born of the Spirit – we can only live in and from our human nature and culture.
BUT, when we are born again of the Spirit – we are able to become spiritually minded and understand God’s world, God’s heavenly culture. His Kingdom. And begin to live from our godly nature and culture.
- Corinthians 2:11
So, also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.
BUT how does this practically work?
Just like babies that are born naturally, we become conformed through the knowledge of the world we live in. We also experience things through our senses and create thoughts about the world. These thoughts are influenced by our individual personality, but also the context we grow up in. Satan is also extremely busy trying to fill us up with anti-god ideologies through media, entertainment, relationships and education.
So, we grow up into human beings that are conformed to the world; how it thinks and operates and decides what’s important.
But what happens when we become saved – born again?
It says so in the term; … we are BORN again.
We actually become another type of creature.
A new creature that is born of the God Spirit.
We have a nature that is both created and Divine – like Christ’s nature.
Therefore, when we are babies we are born into a natural world. This world we become conformed to, and it is our reality.
So too, when we are spiritual babies we are born into a supernatural world. This world we need to become conformed to. It needs to become our new reality.
It is exactly here where the battle of doubt and faith rages; where the tension exists in our Christian walk.
Our natural reality, which is temporary, does not want to submit to the greater reality, which is eternal. This is understandable. We have lived in our natural reality as our plumb line of truth before we met Christ as our Saviour. But when we meet The Truth, our perception of reality needs to change to The Reality.