My best friend is pretty wonderful. She really is. And she’s the best of all the best friends out there. You might be thinking well my best friend is pretty great too... and that may be true but I can promise you that they are not nearly as great as MY best friend. One of the innumerably cool things about her is that she is from Brazil. I’m super lucky because that means, through our friendship, I get to share in and experience a different culture (and also eat lots of desserts made with sweetened condensed milk).
Recently, over the July 4th holiday, her cousin came to visit America for the very first time. We all went together to Kaboom Town in Addison so that he could get the full experience of an Independence Day extravaganza. It was so interesting hearing him talk about all the differences between American culture and Brazilian culture. One thing he said that really stuck out to me was how amazed he was at our patriotism. He said that in Brazil, even on their independence day, people don’t wear shirts with their flag on it or have their national colors on dishes and wall art and baseball caps. It was so difficult for me to try and picture what it would look like if we did that here in America because my way of life is the only one I have ever known.
Just like we have different cultures from country to country there is also a different culture between heaven and humanity. What I mean is that the way God does things and the way we do things are very very different. Humanity operates in a do to get culture. We work 40 hours a week and we get a paycheck. We respect our peers and we expect to be respected. We break the law and we get punishment. This is how humanity relates to one another.
The culture of heaven is contrary. The thing about God is that He gives without expectation and without demand for return. He comes and He gives and He speaks to us, us who are undeserving, us who are insignificant, us who are failures. He says to us—“Expect of me. Demand of me. Require of me.” We who are unfit to even wipe the dust from his feet are given the audacious ability to boldly demand of Him with the promise that He will give abundantly. What a scandalous culture.
Some would shout, “HERESY!”
And they would be right.
It is heretical to our culture because it is contrary to everything we have ever known. It is in opposition to our very being. It is divergent from our civilization. And… isn’t that kind of the point? Should our God not be different from this world?
I am thankful that God operates differently than we do. I’m thankful because I am painfully aware of what an unhappy and selfish god that I make. I’m thankful because I know full well that serving a god like me leads to a life of drunkenness and depression and destruction and devastation. I am thankful because my God is satisfied when I am gluttonous. I am thankful because my God is patient when I am petulant. I am thankful because my God is extravagant when I am stingy. And most of all I am thankful because sets He free what I have bound up.
So may you discover a new culture. May you find that God relates differently than you do. May you be overwhelmed by a one-way love that breaks down walls and sets captives free. And may you be fearless enough to let heaven overtake your humanity.