Skip to content




         A person’s character is shown through their actions in life, not where they sit on Sunday (Navonne Johns)

         Glory to God in highest heaven, Who unto man His Son hath given; While angels sing with tender mirth, A glad new year to all the earth. (Martin Luther)

         Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still   will (Jonathan Edwards) ·      

         The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God (C. S. Lewis)

         You first loved us so that we might love you—not because you needed our love, but because we could not be what you created us to be except by loving you (William of Saint-Thierry, c. 1085–1148)

         The idea is not that we do work for God, but that we are so loyal to him that he can do his work through us (Oswald Chambers)

         Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover (Mark Twain)



TEXT: Luke 2: 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required . . .   

36 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four.   She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.


What takes place in our private and individual time with God, our families and those close to us is part of what becomes our inner sight that determines how we interpret what we see. The culture around the birth of Jesus Christ as indicated in the first two chapters of the gospel according to Matthew and Luke, indicate some people had awareness of God’s presence. Both Elizabeth and Zacharia have messages that are rooted in the knowledge of the word of God as they knew it. I could go on, but to get to the point: the point is that people pay attention to what feels most relevant to them as individuals. How people come up with what is attention-worthy may not always be what stands before us, but what makes one socially acceptable. That means the people through whom one develops their sense of self influence interpretation of issues. Simeon, who was an upright man, understood ‘what the custom of the Law required’, had the Holy Spirit on him even as he waited for the consolation of Israel.  Anna, a widow, advanced in years and her description is ‘never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying’.  She had an attitude of gratitude that enabled her to share about the child, Jesus Christ, ‘to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem ‘.  The temple, prayer, fasting, listening, and sharing news created the culture or local context where there was in-depth analysis of events that illuminated and informed the community. Though there were Herod’s (Matthew 2:1-9), whose perception of the king was power that he could control and eliminate, Simeon, Anna, Elizabeth and even Zachariah remained focused. In a secularized culture, it is so easy to make the mistake of appearing to want to worship Christ, while the real motivation is survival and promotion of self.  




Intrinsic motivation – The fundamental beliefs in a person act as the compass that point to the True North. True north is one’s inner sense which forms the intrinsic knowledge of what is right. The struggle between listening to God through His word or getting the attention in organized places is won on what one has as their True North or the foundational beliefs.  It is easy to get caught up in extrinsic motivation like money, fame, or power. Those foundational beliefs are like the roots of a tree that influences the development of every part of the tree such as the stem, leaves, and fruits. The benefits of a tree may be associated with its products such as beautiful flowers, edible fruits, shadows, among others. However, it is the roots that hold the parts of the tree together; they determine the uptake of nutrients for the other parts to thrive. Strong and healthy roots help the tree to withstand harsh weather to meet the expectations of the tree planters. The tree being the Christian faith whose roots are the understanding of the reason Jesus Christ was born. 'Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”’ (John 18:37). That knowledge shared in a society is foundational in the church's growth, development, and sustainability. The longing nurtured in the heart of every believer is to know the truth and be on the side of the truth which is pivotal in providing a roadmap for individual and collective responsibility in building the church that Jesus said, ‘I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it’ (Matthew 16:18). In such a culture, there’s acknowledgement that every believer has a role in advancing the values that align with the kingdom of God. This therefore leads to extensive progress for the entire kingdom of God on earth.


Transmission of pattern of meanings– Culture is the sum total of beliefs that are learned and shared and passed down from generation to generation. ‘Culture denotes a historically transmitted pattern of meanings embodied in symbols, a system of inherited conceptions expressed in symbolic forms by means of which men communicate, perpetuate, and develop their knowledge about and attitudes toward life’ (Clifford Geertz). Traditions, rituals, and habits are like the DNA of one’s beliefs. Values are a culture’s standard for discerning what is good and just in society. Values are deeply embedded and critical for transmitting and teaching a culture’s beliefs. Beliefs are the tenets or convictions that people hold to be true. Cultural beliefs are so strong that sometime in history, Christians accepted slavery as normal. Culture gives people what they view as their reality. Culture gives people a language that guides their thoughts into what to see and how to attach value, and somehow provides constraints that blind people from some aspects of life. The message of Christmas viewed through cultural lenses can make people hold beliefs that make people remain captives while professing to be free. For example, the labeling of people as sinners can make believers seek refuge from the spiritual siege of the outside world.  “Some proponents of ‘Christianity against culture’ tend to view the Church primarily as a bomb shelter.” (Bruce Riley Ashford). This belief externalizes godlessness and treats it as something that can be kept out by man-made walls, rather than understanding that godlessness is a disease of the soul that can never be walled out. The cultural beliefs that inform believers can close people out of the kingdom of God. That means one has to transcend culture to be ‘in the world but not of the world’  (John 17: 14-16).  Anna shared what she knew with others. Since everyone is influenced by the society he/she is born into, one has to learn to allow God’s information of His kingdom to be the foundational belief. Though Jesus was influenced by culture during his time here on Earth, he remained focused on God's plan.




Choose the cultural influence that feeds the beliefs that align with your desired destination. A culture where people weaponize God’s commandments, along with their own intricately detailed traditions and so quickly label others as outsiders is likely to be toxic.  An environment where people acknowledge that nobody on earth who has a relationship with you will not hurt you because human beings hurt each other. Instead of accepting the chameleon- like high monitoring individuals who tend to modify the way they present themselves in a social setting in response to social cues, instead ‘confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed’ (James 5:16). It is dangerous when Christians encourage modification of the outward appearance and behavior in hope of impressing others. That makes it hard to recognize God’s presence and power, making it hard to have a grateful attitude. To transcend the culture that results in a darkened mind (Romans 1:21), go to the place where God is magnified.


Ø  Read the bible – Listen to the scriptures, raise questions.  As the year ends, you end up counting what you got, or what you didn’t get, enjoying inner peace—or feeling hurt and neglected. To read Scripture well, we must read ourselves and our culture well.

Ø  Prayerfully allow God to shine His light on your mind – It is through prayer that heaven reveals the power of God available for use on earth. ‘Men who represent God and who stand here in His stead, men who are to build up His kingdom in this world, must be in an eminent sense men of prayer’ (E. M. Bounds).  Through prayer we acknowledge that God has a plan and we are willing to be used in the fulfilment of that plan.

Ø  Fellowship with believers – Read about believers who ‘cut through their cultures’ to see a difference. Read about William Wilberforce, the British politician whose Christian beliefs led him to start the movement that abolished slave trade.  Read about George Mueller who did not believe in sharing needs with people, instead he talked to God who used people to meet the needs. Listen to the testimony of those who have wrestled with issues of corruption, poverty, dependence, education that transforms, economic transformation and other innovations relevant to God’s people. Our eyesight brightens and clarifies as we listen to one another—to past believers who have journeyed with Christ before us, and to present-day believers who initially seem so different from us. As we embrace the wisdom of the Holy Spirit in the church's journey through time and humbly receive the Spirit's enlivening of Christ's body around the world, our ability to read the Bible well significantly increases.


God has given us His word and His authority which postures us to be His agents on earth. For that to happen Christians should press beyond cultural influence and come to know Jesus on a personal level. That is what Simeon and Anna did. The greatest threat to the body of Christ is our indifference, our apathy and assumption that we can be neutral. It is so easy to blame others and retreat in fear, but our own indifference or apathy is slowly eroding, weakening, and undermining the faith of individual believers, as well as the capacity of congregations for vibrant involvement in their cultures while being faithful to the cause of Christ. Ultimately, while there is a subjective dimension of the Christian faith, there is a distinctly objective part that allows us to come to know God, ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus’ (Galatians 3:28). Christ continues to speak to all Christians and all cultures through the Bible—a text that always points to Jesus himself. We can't stop being Africans, or American or Asian, or other races and colors; our cultural identity and language, though warped by sin, is a gift from God. What we can do, though, is increase our awareness of the cultural and historical settings in which God has graciously and providentially placed us in. ‘But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life’ Jude verse 20-21). Do you know that God who never tires of manifesting his love for all humanity in an unequal society?


'We have become so accustomed to the idea of divine love and of God’s coming at Christmas that we no longer feel the shiver of fear that God’s coming should arouse in us. We are indifferent to the message, taking only the pleasant and agreeable out of it and forgetting the serious aspect, that the God of the world draws near to the people of our little earth and lays claim to us. The coming of God is truly not only glad tidings, but first of all frightening news for everyone who has a conscience’(Dietrich Bonhoeffer)v



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *