When I first moved from China to the United States over 10 years ago, I thought American movies and TV had prepared me for the cultural differences I would encounter. I knew that Americans tend to be open and enthusiastic, while Chinese are more reserved. Chinese society values groups, hierarchy, and indirect conversations, while Americans value almost the opposite. Despite my knowledge, I was shocked to experience the difference my first weeks in the U.S. When some friends invited my wife and me to visit their church, the people we met there were “American Plus”—even more enthusiastic, kind, and open. We had rarely met anyone like them in our entire lives in China.
One summer break, I had the opportunity to return to China. As a new believer, I was excited to plug in to a local house church. I was amazed to see the same traits I had noticed in my American church friends in Chinese house church members. They greeted me warmly, spoke with love and care, and referenced God’s Word regularly. They even held a weekly potluck—a concept I had first seen in the American church and suggested to my Chinese parents, who doubted it could ever work in China.
Though Americans and Chinese are so culturally different, Christ followers from both cultures are much the same. Isn’t this beautiful? A shared love of Christ and commitment to discipleship have overcome the dramatic earthly culture difference: Christ triumphs over culture.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ taught us to be the salt and light of the world. We are called to distinctiveness that glorifies our Heavenly Father just as Jesus glorified God through His life and service. Regardless of our background, may we all adopt the culture of Christ, becoming salt and light for others, as the Chinese and American Christ followers were for me.
Father, we pray that our steps would follow Yours closely, so we can be salt and light in a broken world. May we be first and foremost citizens of heaven, above any other culture or creed. We pray that our words and deeds would set us apart for Your glory.
by Kevin Yan, HOPE director of internal audit