How does a Christian effectively live in a culture which is so different from their own?

Hi Yutaro! Thanks you so much!
I have (as we all do, right?) a background, and mine is very close to the Japanese culture (I watched a lot of anime and read tons of manga :sweat_smile: ) so when I became a christian a few years ago my “otaku” friends were very dissaponented at me and honestly very angry as well. I, as a new believer didn’t know anything so couldn’t like answer their questions or fears, thanks to the mercy of God <3 some of them are still my friends now and still have questions about how the culture, because they think that you can be christian and still have parts on cultural parties or celebrate some of their tradition.

My friends aren’t Japanese, by the way, they are just reaaaaaaally immerse in their culture. And I don’t really know how does a christian live their christian life in a a middle of a culture so so different, can you help me with that?

(I’m sorry If I wrote too much, I love the context)

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Hi Mariela, thank you for your question!
I was born and raised in Japan, so I have been exposed to Japanese pop culture. Although Japanese manga and anime seem to be quite unique, this question of how to deal with the culture applies to any context. How can we enjoy Hollywood movies? How can we maintain our spiritual health when we do Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook?

I think the key is to be aware of the influences and ideologies of the culture. I don’t think all Christians have to reject everything from the culture and isolate themselves in a monastery or a nunnery unless they are called to do that. If we want to be the salt and light in the world, we somehow have to find a way to engage in the culture without being affected by it. Watching movies, dramas, or even anime can be helpful in understanding and analyzing what captures the heart and the imagination of the people we want to share the gospel with, and that is why we see preachers, including RZIM speakers using them as illustrations and analogies in their gospel presentations.

However, we need to be wise in discerning what we watch and read because they can potentially affect our healthy relationship with the Lord. And here are some tips that I find helpful in engaging the pop culture.

  1. Prayerfully bring it in front of the Lord what you want to watch and read
    If you feel like you want to hide from Jesus the things you enjoy, that might be telling something about the nature of that particular movie or novel. Of course, you cannot expect non-Christian authors or artists to produce things that agree with everything from a Christian worldview, but bring Jesus into the conversation helps us discern if they are crossing the line or not.

  2. Share your thoughts and experiences at a healthy Christian community
    It is difficult and even dangerous to try to deal with the culture all by yourself, and that is why discussing with brothers and sisters in Christ is very helpful in the process. You can share perhaps with your small group members, and RZIM Connect is definitely a safe space for you to explore ideas!

  3. Read reviews before you actually watch or read, especially when it is controversial.
    This is rather a very practical tip, but I find it helpful to listen to people who have already seen the movie or drama to see if there is no violence or sexual expressions that is too much. Of course, there are things that are interesting, but guarding our hearts is our top priority.

I hope you find these helpful in your spiritual journey, and when we engage in the culture with wisdom, it gives us the insights and the language that speaks to the heart of our non-Christian friends. I don’t know if you have ever played the video game Super Smash Bros. and I have a friend who was a big fan of it. He used to hate himself wasting time playing it, but one day we were on a university mission together, and he happened to have a conversation with some students who belonged to the gaming society at the university. When my friend explained the gospel message to them, he came suddenly came up with an illustration that sin is like the item in Super Smash Bros. that freezes the characters. When you get frozen, you cannot do what you want to do, and human beings have this nature of sin that hinders them from doing what they hope to do and end up failing. Praise God, the analogy worked with the students, and they said they got interested in coming to the outreach events we had on the campus.

This is just a simple example of how we can explain biblical concepts in the language and the terminologies that our friends will appreciate, and I hope that you can use the things in the culture to share the glory of God in HIs wisdom.

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