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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

31 Mar '11

Third Culture Citizens: A New Worldview

Posted by T.J. Addington in Intentional living, society, spiritual formation, The heart
I grew up in Hong Kong in the sixties and early seventies. It was a very different place then, full of refugees from China. When I came back to the United States at fifteen I realized that I didn't really fit. My worldview and experiences were light years different than my new high school classmates on the east side of St. Paul. I was in my country but I felt like a stranger. I feel most at home when in Asia but I have no home there. I still live between two worlds: my Asian home where my formative years were lived and my home in the United States which is in some ways my adopted home.

Many who have lived overseas or who have immigrated understand the phenomenon. There is actually a name for us: Third culture kids. When my wife read a book on the subject she said, "OK, now I understand why you think like you think and and do what you do." Third culture people often look at their own culture from the outside: after all, it was not their home culture. It is all about our world view and what shaped it.

Christ followers, are also third culture people. Our passports identify us as citizens of a particular country. But in coming to Jesus, we have become citizens of His Kingdom and the values, priorities and indeed, entire worldview of His Kingdom is light years from those of the world we were born into. We were born into one culture, have been adopted into God's family and culture but our Kingdom passport has not yet been stamped for entry so we live between two worlds. Third culture citizens.

This is why Peter's letter (1 Peter) is addressed to "God's elect, strangers in the world."  And again, "aliens and strangers in the world (1 Peter 2:11). He is clearly saying that we are now outsiders in our own world looking in from a very different perspective: His perspective. Our world view has changed. 

One of the great challenges for us is to learn to look at life, relationships, priorities, world events, justice, indeed the issues of life from His point of view because we are no longer citizens of the world but citizens of the Kingdom. Romans 12:2 nails this concept: "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will."

The key to living out God's good, pleasing and perfect will is allowing Him to transform our minds so that we no longer conform to the pattern of this world. Our citizenship has changed and therefore our perspective and worldview must change and when that happens, our lives start to conform to Kingdom culture rather than the patterns of this world. 

We are third culture citizens. As we think like third culture people, we will live in the tension between two worlds: the one we were born into and the one we are destined for. Our citizenship has changed. The question we must constantly ask ourselves is "How should I view this person, this issue or this situation from a Kingdom perspective, and then to conform to that perspective rather than to the perspective of the world.