I had already been thinking of writing something about 1 Cor. 13 from a missionary point of view when a friend of mine posted this version that she had saved from her language school days. So I decided to save myself some time and just shamelessly share Cindy’s post.
The point is that without love, missions is pointless. I think some of us THINK we have love, but when that emotion is twisted and broken by culture clash, then we realize that what we had was a sort of romanticization of missions. We loved the IDEA of being missionaries rather than loving Jesus enough to love fallen humans.
Love isn’t easy. If you think it’s easy, you aren’t doing it right. Jesus said even sinners love those who love them, so what’s the big deal if you do the same? The really hard thing is to love those who don’t love you back, who hate you and your nationality and your skin color, who don’t want you in their country. Now that’s real, gritty love.
A GUIDE TO CULTURE (According to 1 Corinthians 13)
If I speak with the tongue of a national, without love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I wear the national dress and understand the culture and all forms of etiquette, and if I copy all mannerisms so that I could pass for a national, but have not love, I am nothing.
Love endures long hours of language study, and is kind to those who mock his accent; love does not envy those who stayed home; love does not exalt his home culture; is not proud of his national superiority; does not boast about the way we do it back home; does not seek his own ways; is not easily provoked into telling about the beauty of his home country; does not think evil about this culture.
Love bears all criticisms about his home culture, believes all good things about this new culture, confidently anticipates being at home in this place, endures all inconveniences.
Love never fails, but where there is cultural anthropology, it will fail; where there is contextualization, it will lead to syncretism; where there is linguistics, it will change.
For we know only part of the culture, and we minister to only part.
But when Christ is reproduced in this culture, then our inadequacies will be insignificant.
When I was in America, I spoke as an American, I understood as an American, I thought as an American, but when I left America, I put away American things.
Now we adapt to this culture awkwardly, but we will live in it intimately. Now I speak with a strange accent, but He will speak to the heart.
And now these three remain: cultural adaptation, language study, and love.
Photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/brandoncwarren/4164759025/”>Brandon Christopher Warren</a> / <a href=”http://foter.com/Love/”>Foter.com</a> / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>CC BY-NC</a>