CULTURE & How Different Cultures Can Make Us Feel Uncomfortable: A Picture

by Bob Whitesel Ph.D., 7/11/15.

Have you ever wondered how Jesus might look today, and what kind of disciples He might call?  Steel City Church in Pittsburgh has some ideas.  This is a picture they utilized depicting Jesus at an updated version of The Last Supper:

Steel City Last Supper

So tell me, what do you think?  One student replied this way:

Dr. Whitesel,  I like that they see themselves as a continuation of the book of Acts rather than a copy of something that was. They definitely have the feel of a group of people who are willing to “be all things to all people”. They see where the need is and do what they can to take the message to the streets. At least that’s the feel I get from the website. It makes me a little uncomfortable to be honest, which probably means it’s a good thing. – Student

I too felt some uncomfortable feelings, and thus I penned the following response.

Hello ___ student name ___

Some students have a real aversion to this picture. And, you, like me, have some uncomfortable with it.
 Let me probe deeper and tell why I think this may be.

First, some of these people look like they may have been just a few years prior: streetwalkers, petty criminals and troublemakers. Thus, if they were in my class I would feel uncomfortable with them. Not because I don’t like them, but because I feel I might say something to offend them, or show that I am ignorant of their lifestyle.  I guess, I don’t like feeling like I am in an culture that is not like mine (it makes me feel uncomfortable).

But, what I am trying to say is that we all prefer our own cultural surroundings, because it makes us feel more in control, more powerful, and less likely to be embarrassed. But, if we are called to follow Christ, then we must be willing to go into these uncomfortable realms and learn foreign (to us) cultures to share the Good  News in their culture.  Thus, the uncomfortable feeling that I felt (and this student too) is probably the result of my pride in wanting to feel in control and empowered.

But, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:26-31:

“Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let him who boasts boast in the Lord’.”

Now, ask yourself.  How will you react the next time someone from a different culture invades your “personal space?”