The smiling face of a young girl munching on a hairy spider elicited howls from my office staff. I recently brought two books to my office illustrating a wide variety of bugs and insects that different cultures around the world routinely eat. Both books were replete with recipes for the more adventurous. During my travels, I have frequently encountered markets and restaurants that featured various insect dishes. Although I was unwilling to try them, it was very clear that the insects were nothing out of the ordinary for the native people and in many instances, were a rare treat and delicacy. They were more amused or confused by how I, and other Westerners, viewed the insects with a combination of fascination and repulsion.
When one encounters different cultures, our inherent prejudices may hinder our willingness to engage and embrace their customs. The converse is equally true and undoubtedly many American and Western customs may appear odd or even offensive to other cultures.
Critics of the Bible and Christianity aver that it is based upon traditions of Western cultures and therefore not applicable to all nations and cultures of the world. When the Roman empire, under Emperor Constantine, officially recognized Christianity as the state religion in the fourth century A.D., Christianity spread throughout the world. Thus, while it may appear that Christianity is a Western religion, it began as a religion in the Middle East. It is heavily steeped in the traditions of the ancient world of that time, familiar not only to Israel but also the ancient empires of Babylon, Egypt, Syria and Greece. How did Christianity expand beyond its origins and become embraced by the entire world?
Peter began to speak: “Now I truly understand that God doesn’t show favoritism, but in every nation the person who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. He sent the message to the Israelites, proclaiming the good news of peace through Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all.”
Acts 10:34-36 (CSB)
If the first Christians were prejudiced against other cultures and groups of people, the Gospel of Jesus Christ would never have spread beyond Jerusalem. God, the Holy Spirit, intervened and dramatically showed the Apostle Peter that the Good News of Jesus Christ was for every nation and every person who fears God and desires to place their faith in Him.
Whether it is eating bugs or different foods, wearing unfamiliar clothes, or expressing emotions and affections in an unexpected manner, we are all created by God and are His children. We must learn to embrace our differences and seek to find unity and harmony that unites our souls through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.