I’ve always been fascinated with meeting people from different international cultures, and ethnic backgrounds. It has been a privilege to travel to many different countries including Thailand, Brazil, Poland and South Korea, not as a tourist but engaging in various mission projects. Here in Leeds for over twenty years, together with others, I have helped organise the annual Global Day of Prayer gathering, International street festivals and more recently an Intercultural mission forum. My passion and interest continues and I’m currently researching intercultural theology. 

In thinking a lot about different cultures and their contexts, it’s made me realise how much we are conditioned by our own particular worldview, even when we consider our view of God, the life and teaching of Jesus and the Bible. An African colleague commented to me recently that a typical western/Eurocentric view is that “There is theology and contextual theology” suggesting that it is thought Western theology is superior. But there are now voices from the ever-expanding church in the Global South saying loud and clear “all  theology is contextualised”.  We should no longer be thinking “The West and the rest” or “The West is best”. This is not to say that a western world view is not important but there are other cultural contexts that are just as important and can help us “together with all the Lord’s people to grasp how wide and long and high and deep  is the love of Christ.” Much more could be said about this and it is good to see a lot more research being done.

As we approach Easter and for many, a special time of reflecting through this Lent season, I wonder if in considering what led up to and including the death and resurrection of Jesus, (totally outside our cultural context), we can allow God to reveal to us how he speaks in and through different cultural contexts. There are millions across the world who have experienced the living Christ breaking into their cultural context and transforming their lives.

What is our cultural context at this present time – what are the concerns and challenges we face? What about the context of those around us, our families, neighbourhood and work contexts as well as those who are of a different nationality and background to us? These are all cultural contexts. Let us be more open, listening to people, whatever cultural context and circumstances they find themselves in and allow God to speak through us His life-giving words of love into their lives.

By Paul Lancaster, Hope for the Nations