Catherine Clarkson, International Volunteer, UK reflects on what it means to live out Kingdom Culture:
“When I first joined Hands at Work, I arrived totally saturated by the culture I had been raised in. But I guess this was to be expected! I had been born, raised and moulded by one particular culture and therefore carried with me certain expectations, norms and a sense of entitlement. My culture had shaped my attitude and the values that I lived out in my life. There were attitudes and values that were often helpful and life-giving for those around me and have been celebrated over the years. But there were also attitudes and values that were not only damaging to myself and others around me, but ran in total contrast to kingdom culture values I was later to discover and desire to adopt for my life.
I realised – though it took me more time than I’d like to admit – that my attitude and values which were formed and shaped by my culture, ‘flavoured’ the community that was around me. Of course, when everyone around you is the same – mono-cultured - it can be extremely difficult to even identify the attitudes and practices that cause pain, hurt and damage, let alone challenge those practices.
But in those times that my culture has been exposed by people around me who weren’t just from several different cultures, but who desired for me to become more mature and to grow, I realised that my ideals, attitudes and values weren’t all as ‘normal’ or correct as I thought. It was challenging but it also became a gift for me.
Over the years serving with Hands at Work, I have lived and worked with people from many different cultures around the world. Each of our attitudes and values flavour the very community we are a part of. I have found that the temptation to dominate with my culture and my own sense of ‘normal’ makes me feel safe and in control. But I must surrender that on a daily basis if the community around me is to grow and become mature and more Christ-like. I’ve also found that there are aspects of my culture that, offered in a right and humble way, become a gift to the family around me. So it’s about a daily surrender, but also of giving freely and serving sacrificially.
In our pursuit of becoming more mature as Christ followers, I am so struck by what Jesus says about living in this countercultural way. In John 18, Jesus make this statement: ‘My Kingdom is not of the world’. So what does that mean for me and for the community of Hands at Work, and for you? Recently in Hands, we have together studied the book of Colossians. Paul speaks about setting our minds on things above, not earthly things. As the community of Hands at Work seeks to live out Kingdom Culture values, we must fix our eyes heavenward; on Christ. Following Christ’s example of love, humility and servanthood is how we truly live out a Kingdom Culture here on earth. The Message translation puts it like this: ‘Pursue the things that Christ presides over’ (Colossians 3:2).”