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Will you let Jesus turn your world upside down?

posted 30 Jun 2014, 08:04 by Stephen Childs
I still remember my first time living away from home. I was 18 and heading for a summer job in France. As soon as I got off the plane I realised I was out of my depth. My school French just didn't cut it - I could barely understand what real French people said. Everything was strange. People started work too early and stayed out for lunch too long. No-one drank tea, at least any kind of tea an Irish person would recognise. It was hard being plunged into another culture. I was disorientated and confused. I felt that everything I'd ever known no longer applied. I was suffering culture shock. 

When Jesus bursts onto the scene, he plunges his followers into a foreign culture. He calls it the Kingdom of God. He starts telling them that what they think is important really isn't (Mark 7:5-13). He tells them that what they think about right and wrong is, well ... wrong. He tells them that their hopes for a glorious Roman-bashing king are misplaced (Mark 8:31-34). He turns their world upside down. 

Culture shock really hits home when it comes to the things that really matter. And so it is in Mark chapter 10. Jesus addresses some really crucial topics: marriage, status, eternity, and power. As we've come to expect, he doesn't stick to the party line but takes people back to the radical teaching found in the Bible. Here's where he takes them:

   from  to ...
 marriage what can we get away with?
what does God really want?
 status some people don't really matter (10:13) there are no little people
 eternity do your best to keep the rules
all in or nothing (TM adidas!)
 power getting ahead is what makes you great (10:35-37) getting your hands dirty is what makes you great (10:42-46)

This was very hard for people to swallow. He was asking for costly commitment to difficult marriages. He was asking them to pay attention to people they usually ignored. He was asking them to give up everything for God when they were used to ticking a few boxes. He was asking them to throw their ambitions away and start putting other people first. He may as well have been flashing up "EVERYTHING YOU KNOW IS WRONG" on huge video screens. 

How do we deal with it when we start to feel just how counter-cultural Jesus is? One option is denial. People sometimes go there to deal with culture shock. So the American who has been living in Ireland for 15 years might keep talking about walking on the sidewalk, and putting stuff into the trunk of their vehicle, despite the strange looks they get. When it comes to Jesus, it might look like refusing to let him have any impact on your wallet, your social life, or your career.

A better way to deal with culture shock is to do your best to integrate. Learn to love the strange ways of your host culture. If you're a foreigner in Ireland, embrace Giles and Dunphy, lateness, cups of tea at any hour, and stories that don't seem to go anywhere. If you're wanting to follow Jesus, learn to love his ways. Learn to appreciate his values and priorities. Let him turn your world upside down. He says that no-one who is willing to do that will ever really lose out (Mark 10:28-31).

Image credits: "Girl Playing Outside" by imagerymajestic from