Well, I know, it’s a deep subject for such a shallow mind as mine. But the Holy Spirit finally led me to the concluding post about this scourge and plague infecting the Body of Christ known as Cultural Bias. I could go on and on listing views and even honest beliefs people hold as the truth from the Throne of God Himself that are influenced more by the culture of humanity rather than the richness of heaven itself. But all good things must come to an end, or so we are told. And even bad things come to an end. When life gets tough there are some words often repeated in the Bible I turn to: “and it came to pass”!
What the Holy Spirit reminded me of was back in the ninth grade in Mrs. McPeters’ typing class. Yes, I am that old. At the risk of sounding like an old geezer, back in my day it was all about typewriters when it came to “publishing”. But I do remember, probably much to the surprise of Mrs. McPeters, that the first lesson in operating a typewriter was in knowing the home keys, the position to put your fingers BEFORE you started typing. Oh yes, there were computers back then, but the one you hold in your hand has far more capabilities that those back then that took up very large rooms.
And the very first thing we typed was this: “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” This sentence utilized every letter in the alphabet. Our first appointed task was to type this sentence, over and over and over and over and over. Talk about boring. But then she added stress–she started timing us on how quick we could do it. I now understand what she was doing–making sure us students started in the right place, otherwise we would never master the typewriter. And this is where the Spirit offered me a jewel known as wisdom.
The home keys for the left hand are asdf and the home keys for the right hand are jkl;, unless you type with 2 fingers using the biblical method of “seek and ye shall find”. If we began there we would indeed type The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. But…if I change the home key for the left hand by moving it only one place to the right, it looks something like this: Yhr wuivy ntoen goc jumpd obrt yhr lsxy foh. Well, that certainly make a lot of sense. The spell correction feature of WordPress is scratching its head wondering, “What in the world is he trying to spell?”
Starting in the wrong “home keys” is not only disastrous for keyboarding, but also in living. The influence of cultural biases affect our thinking and will create theological nonsense just like that sentence when my fingers were NOT on the right home keys. So my mind began racing away by thinking of 7 simple steps to overcome cultural bias as Followers of Jesus. It was then I heard the Holy Spirit say, “Holf on nih noy.” Oops, my fingers were on the wrong home keys. What He really said to me was, “Hold on big boy.” So I thought, are there more than 7 simple steps? Is it like a 12 Step Recovery Program? I now can see the Holy Spirit doing a face palm.
Then it hit me, the word I needed to focus on is “simple”. By use of this word I do not mean “simplistic”, rather basic. The Bible is a narrative, THE Narrative of God. “In the beginning” God creates perfection. It remains perfect until Adam and Eve mess it all up and fall out of this perfect relationship. Then the Bible becomes the narrative of 2 stories. One narrative is how humanity keeps messing up God’s Intended Design. The other narrative is how God faithfully and persistently seeks to restore His Image Bearers.
Everything in the Bible is about this narrative, this story of falling and restoring. Unlike what most of us were taught, the Bible is not a library of different books. It is the unfolding narrative about us falling and how God is seeking and working to restore us. So to overcome the influences of cultural biases here’s what we all need to do–what I am doing. I read. I allow those words, just those words, soak and simmer into my mind.
Then I explore and study the what, where and when those words were spoken. In other words, I seek to know the context, but always filtering those thoughts through the narrative of me falling and God seeking and working to restore this fallen Image Bearer. And that is why I did not use the words “easy steps” and used the words “simple steps” because it is not easy, but it is doable because of this simplified process of allowing the Bible to speak TO us instead of us speaking FOR the Bible.
One of the good things, perhaps very few good things, about this internet thing is the easy access to uncovering the contexts of this Biblical Narrative. I do not have to be a Hebrew and Greek scholar. All I have to do is visit www.blueletterbible.org and see what people like James Strong and Joseph Henry Thayer have discovered about the ancient Greek or what Strong and Heinrich Friedrich Wilhelm Gesenius can share about the ancient Hebrew.
I can also visit www.biblegateway.com and look at that passage from a variety of translations and paraphrases and find certain nuances from each translation. I can Google and find out the history of those times and places. All the while listening to the Holy Spirit. Many times I wrestle and struggle with the Narrative, but I do not wrestle or struggle alone. I have my Companion, the one Jesus promises to freely give me if I only trust in Him.
So, first open the Bible then open your heart before you open your mind. Our mind is where the junk and garbage of these cultural biases live. Do not allow your minds to influence your heart as a Follower of Jesus. The restoring work of God begins in the heart because this is where His Image resides and longs to be released and unleashed upon the mind, and then the world. Jesus gives us a new heart that is designed to transform this mind that is polluted with the biases of our culture. I cannot stress enough that you begin listening with your heart first. Oh, you want me to give you a passage from the Bible on this? Ok……you asked for it; Romans 12:1-2 (NLT):
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (emphasis mine)
Better yet, listen to how The Message puts it:
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. (emphasis mine)
Oh, one more thing. This does not mean, by any stretch of even MY most active imagination, that I have mastered the Bible. It does mean that The Bible, This Word of God, is mastering my life. I am now being processed by God’s Word, and I am learning so much more than I ever have before.