You Are Not Asian: Using Culture As A Ministry Crutch

Cultural Crutch

You are not Asian. You are not any color. Your identity is not based in your cultural roots. What you are, is a beacon of God’s image. You are meant to shine His glory in dark places. You are meant to be God’s living story and go wherever He tells you to go.

The problem with cultural Christianity is that we make ministry decisions based on man-centered identities. We put our accomplishments, entitlements, gifts, abilities, and culture before the will of God. We love to use phrases like, “My mission field is….” or “I am gifted with…” or “I am called to serve….”

Once I sat in the house of a very successful Asian Christian entrepreneur. He was a committed believer, family man and leader in his all-Asian American church. His crib sat on top of a hill on beach front property overlooking a beautiful skyline. There were 50” HDTV’s in every room. The house was decked out with marble counter tops, a grand piano, state-of-the art security cameras and a huge stuffed deer. He began to explain how God had called him to serve right where he was. That this city was his mission field. He mentioned the very cool and honorable ministries he was engaged in; helping Asian refugees, organizing Asian conferences and leading an Asian church.

As I looked around the emaculate home I saw the Xbox and stuffed deer staring back at me and I was tempted to say, “Hell yea! I just heard God calling me to this city too. In fact God wants me to move into this very house and serve Asians from right here!”, but I kept that thought to myself and acknowledged his calling. Yet I couldn’t help feel like he was missing out on God’s best by using culture as a ministry crutch and settling for a man-centered identity.

We keep asking the wrong question, “What is God’s will for my life?” Rather, we should be asking “What is God’s will?”

It never begins with us. A Jesus-centered identity does not hoard blessings but extends it to places and people that need it the most. Many times He asks us to extend it to people outside our cultural comfort zone; outside our gifts, abilities and accomplishments. God wants us to think, go and love outside of our all-Asian (all-any culture) churches, camps, retreats, networks and conferences. He wants us to put His redemptive agenda first. To go where the needs are the greatest. To serve where we see Him working.

This doesn’t mean we throw away our cultural identity or any part of who we are. It simply means we throw off the crutch of self and give them to Jesus so we can run alongside Him. He wants to redeem who we are and use us in ways we can never imagine. Our identity is found in Christ alone. In Him we are sent ones. God’s best is doing what he commands.

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