Challenged By Culture

“In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock.” (Luke 2:8)

I know that when most people marry, they have to learn how to compromise.  Two different backgrounds learning to coexist without killing each other. My husband and I had to learn the same lessons.  We both had to learn to navigate the minefield of our diverse cultural backgrounds.

I was from the very southern country of Texas. He had English parents who had spent 17 of his 22 years in Panama, Central America. They were confused. As English children they should be seen and not heard. As Latin children, everyone was heard at the same time at a much higher decibel level than I was accustomed to. Nearly thirty-four years later I have learned to be loud. Most of the time compromise is about changing your perspective not getting your way.

Understanding cultural differences in our own time is challenging. Understanding cultural differences in the first century is downright difficult.

When I picture shepherds living out in the fields my mind sees stained glass window depictions of the scene.   Three or four older men and a young boy laying in a field with a bunch of white robed, be-winged beings floating around on a dark night lighting up the heavens. Everyone is clean and tidy. This has always been my vision. Visions and reality don’t usually live on the same page.

Shepherds were not in the top strata of society. They were the most socially undesirable. They lived in the fields, they slept with their sheep. It was hard, physical labor.

Isn’t it just like God? He doesn’t send his angels to the wealthy, the famous, or the top government officials. He doesn’t even send the angels to tell the priests or the scribes. He announces the birth of a King to a bunch of shepherds. The angels went on to tell the shepherds, “Today in the city of David a Savior was born for you, who is the Messiah, the Lord.” In that announcement the angels defined Jesus’ mission as our Savior. His royalty as our Messiah. His authority as our Lord.

Our culture has not changed much from that day. We still look for a savior in the trappings of the world. We miss the simplicity of the message of God’s love because we expect a King that will rule the world. When God has given us a King that wants to rule our hearts.

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