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Friday, 3 May 2013

Culture Shock and Heaven; "You are FAT,ma"

 " and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying or pain...." Revelation 21:4 NASV

Having lived in Africa for several years we have experienced varying degrees of culture shock. Of course before we went to Africa we tried to prepare ourselves for the different cultural norms but sometimes you can only learn by being there.

AFRICA; Probably one of my least enjoyable shocks was the accepted cultural practise of expressing "how fat" I was. At the time I was not fat at all but friends, acquaintances and perfect strangers would call me fat at every appropriate opportunity which to my mind was far too often !! Later I learnt this of course was a huge compliment that carried the implied meaning that I was well fed, and wealthy enough to afford food that would make me "fat" and was not sick with malaria or tuberculosis or one of those dreadful illnesses that made you thin, so therefore was healthy. But I still did not like it.

A positive cultural shock was the sense of community in Africa that everyone shared. Vegetable sellers turned up on my doorstep to chat and display their wares. The guards regularly alerted us if they saw snakes slithering towards our front door. Women walking to market would sit under our large gum tree and I would bring out large cups of water and sit with them. I miss everyone knowing you and you knowing them.

AUSTRALIA; Returning to Oz we had our fair share of reverse culture shock. I found it difficult to get back into highway driving, the traffic was much heavier and faster. Very few people showed up on our doorstep our sense of being part of a community took much longer to establish. Nothing prepared me for the moment when I had driven with my mother down to the main street of our suburb at about 10 a.m.and I saw a sign "STRIPPER", absolutely horrified I was outraged and said something like;
"I cannot believe in broad daylight they are advertising female strippers what has happened to our society?"
My mother burst out laughing and said "It's a paint shop" .
To which I responded "paint shops are putting on strip shows now!!!"
"No"she patiently said "Its paint stripper for your house"
An embarrassed "ooohh" was all I could manage.

A positive culture shock was the supermarkets laden with food and different brands and choice. The great clothes and shoe shopping. I know many people find the excess and abundance of these items daunting as they adjust to being back in Australia but I confess I loved it, perhaps I am a closet shopaholic.

HEAVEN; For those of us who have trusted Jesus as Saviour and Lord and so graciously been forgiven, I wonder if  we will suffer culture shock on arrival in heaven?  I don't think we will have any "you are fat, ma moments"but I think our experience will all be positive for the Bible says there will be no more crying or pain or tears or sickness or suffering, because He will wipe away our tears, I say bring it on.
There, all will be perfect, no selfishness, no hurting others,  no cruelty, no one will lie, no one will be bullied, no one will commit crimes, I say bring it on. {Revelation 21; 1-8}

And God who is love will constantly be worshipped by all continuously and forever, I say bring it on. {1 John 4:8}

Can I prepare myself for this Heavenly Culture, Yes and No. I don't know what it is like here to not get sick or to not have hurts or to not be dissatisfied with life, or to not feel unloved or lonely or to not be a sinner  but in heaven I will know love perfectly and God will bring justice to all{ 1 John 3; 2}.
 Sometimes we catch glimpses of that on earth but I will have to wait till heaven to experience that culture in full { 1 Cor 8:13}.

But I can worship God now just like the heavenly creatures are already doing. I can do this by allowing God to completely order my days and follow His leading and I can verbally bow down and worship knowing that there is a time coming when all people and nations will bow down and worship God and His son Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
I can do that now and in every day, thankfully acknowledging that He is the Creator who lovingly created me and you. That He is the Redeemer who at great cost, by His own blood has redeemed me and those who would believe in Him.
For me this keeps me spiritually healthy knowing God is in control now and always and one day I will worship Him in His presence, so I want to start now and put God where God should be and me where I should be{ kneeling in love and awe at His feet}. {Revelation 5;8 -14}
In fact I acknowledge every day "I worship You, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, You alone are worthy".

May the worship of God NOT be a culture shock to us but something we do in this world and joyfully continue to do in the next. {Revelation 4;8-11}.

This blog is dedicated to my friend Therese, who I know longs for heaven where she will experience full health but at present worships God and accepts the loving plans of her heavenly Father.