This Friday and Saturday I'm spending some much needed quality time with my "China-Sisters." I lived in China for a year after graduating college. My mind is on all the memories we shared while living and working in a foreign country. We are laughing and crying and making some of our favorite foods together while we reminisce.
So I guess it makes sense that these words from Jesus make me thing of the that time in China (and my time in other foreign countries or cultures) and it makes me think of how easy the differences in cultural traditions and practices can distract from helping people meet Jesus.
The Chinese "culture-shock" was tough on us and created challenges in adjusting to living in a new culture. In a similar way, I think sometimes we have a Christian "culture-shock" that can create obstacles for people coming to Jesus.
These words from Jesus make me want to look for ways I am either inviting or hindering people from coming to know him. Are there traditions or practices that are comfortable to me (or the church) that really I'm just holding on to because of human tradition? I don't want to hold on to my comforts or traditions or culture and set aside the commands of God to love my neighbor and care for the refugee, the least of these, the poor, the marginalized. I don't want me being American to stand before me being a follower of Jesus.