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The Ultimate Cross-Cultural Experience

“Being born in the likeness of men…” (Philippians 2:7)



Pets are common Christmas gifts, but not all Christmas pets are easy to communicate with. How would you communicate with a fish?

Say, for example, you got a very delicate, exotic fish for Christmas—beautiful to see, fascinating to watch, but hard to talk with (despite your “talks” every time you feed it). But how do you tell it to clean its tank? For your fish to live, the tank must be clean, but who will do it?

Would you place your face against the glass of the tank and calmly try to tell your fish what to do? Not only does your fish not speak your language, but your overly large countenance pressed up against the glass of the tank may be frightening in its own right.

Would you catch the fish with your bare hands—believing the fish will understand better if you communicate through touch?

Would you translate your speech into fish language?

Perhaps you could get another fish to communicate for you?

Let’s be honest—the only way you could ever communicate your good intentions to a fish … is to become one! You must have a “cross-cultural” experience!

The Incarnation represents the ultimate crossing of cultures as Jesus clothed his glory and majesty in human flesh. “Being born in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7, ESV), Jesus was God’s incredible act of becoming a human being in order came into our world to communicate grace to us.

In doing this Christ also gave us an example for ministry, especially cross-cultural ministry. Paul challenges believers to “become all things to all people that by all possible means [we] might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22, NIV). Whether across the road or across an ocean how might we incarnate ourselves into the contexts of those around us to share Christ with them?


Joshua Paxton, Director, Burnham Center for Global Engagement