Wednesday, May 06, 2009

culture

Last evening Deb and I enjoyed visiting Holland, Michigan which has the Tulip Time Festival on now. We enjoyed the Klompen Dancers again, and of course the tulips planted in the downtown area.

This area is rich in its culture, many Dutch people having settled here generations past. "If you ain't Dutch, you ain't much." I'm not aware of Deb or I having any Dutch ancestry, so I guess that applies to us!

Culture is simply expressions in various ways of what it means to be human. It is interwoven with both good and evil. Expressions of our humanity reflect God's good creation. But we're all impacted by the Fall, which means that what is sinful becomes a part of human culture, and what is good in human culture can become sinful, when we let it take the place of God in our lives.

I'm reminded of the book of Ecclesiastes. The perspectives there are from people who seem to want to live life to the full in content and in manner. The writer (or writers) wants to experience everything, and he wants to do so, so completely that these normally good things become ends in themselves, or the end and goal for himself. In other words they become idols in one's heart.

But in the end the book comes around to the abrupt conclusion: "Fear God and keep his commandments!" Knowing that God will bring every hidden thing into judgment, whether it is good or evil.

I don't think Ecclesiastes pushes culture aside. It simply warns us to see culture for what it is: in part God's good gift to humanity, but impacted by human folly and sin.

I saw nothing sinful about the Klompen dancing. The costumes are delightful, and the wooden shoes. And the dancing. We do well to embrace our humanity. Culture to a significant degree is a gift from God. Though we need discernment to see what might creep in that is not reflective of God's goodness and will.

At the same time we must not let culture or any part of it become our center. God in Christ and his kingdom must be our center. Then all God's gifts can be for us a blessing and not a curse. And an expression of the very image of God in us as humans in ways that reflect not only God's good creation, but his new creation in Jesus. Ultimately redeemed in Jesus.

Just a few thoughts. It was fun; we both enjoyed it. Was nice to be there and spend time together in that way.

What might you like to add here?

4 comments:

nAncY said...

this makes me think of how all the different cultures are so much the same in that they all have a certain music and dance, ways of dressing, favorite foods, etc.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Nancy,
Yes. We do have so much in common as humans even in all our diversity.

Diane said...

Hi Ted,

I don' want to add anything, except great post! I loved it. I am enjoying having a new computer--another thing that can be a blessing, rightly used--and thus a chance to catch up your blog without crashing every few minutes! I love your outlook on life.

Take care!

Ted M. Gossard said...

Diane,
Thanks for your encouraging and most gracious words! Well, we're all a work in progress and that's for sure. But what a delight to live in God's good creation and see the new creation in Jesus come into being right before our very eyes, even (and I might say especially) in my own life. A work of grace for sure, though we need to be awake and aware and active in it.