I recently had the privilege of traveling to Europe on business. Experiencing different cultures can be fun and exciting, but it can also be a little bit stressful.
Take crossing the street for example. When my mother told me to look both ways before crossing an intersection, she must have had Europe in mind. Look the wrong way when crossing the street in the United Kingdom, and you might become a fatal traffic statistic. It is so bad in London that the streets are marked at crosswalks with huge painted letters reminding you which way to look before jumping out in front of an oncoming vehicle.
Talk about confused. I visited a department store while in London. I was informed that the men’s apparel was on the first floor. After making several laps around the floor, a helpful attendant pointed out that I was on the ground floor and the floor above the ground floor was the first floor. I was prepared to argue the point, but remembered I was a visitor. Like a friend of mine recently commented when referring to traveling abroad, “It is not wrong, just different.”
Don’t even think about complimenting an acquaintance from Wales on a pair of good looking pants. You might get slapped. What we call pants, they call undergarments. If you like someone’s new denim pants, you would be well advised to speak of their fashionable trousers.
Being away from home, I missed a big juicy hamburger with bacon and chips. I ordered a hamburger and got a hamburger with ham and French fries. I should have ordered a hamburger and crisps. What we call French fries they call chips. But, it is not wrong, it is just different.
Did I mention men carry purses and wear capris in Europe? This can be a real challenge when thanking someone you meet on the tube. The Mr. you thank may in fact be a Mrs. Oh, and yeah, the tube is the underground subway system. It is not something used to transport liquid; in London it transfers people.
Are you starting to get a little frustrated? It’s OK. I was, too. But come to think about it, isn’t that they way it usually is when you are in a foreign land? If so, I wonder why it is we often have no problem fitting in on things related to this side of Heaven. Doesn’t the Bible say that as Christians we are not of this world, but foreigners with residence in a different land?
Hebrews 11:13 refers to the members of the faith hall of fame as aliens and strangers of this Earth. I Peter 2:11 says, “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.” Most of us don’t look like aliens, but maybe it is time we start acting like foreigners.
Being here is not wrong, it is just different. How different, depends on you. The question is whether or not our lives are different enough to serve as a testimony to our King, or have we become so acclimated to our culture, no one knows we are different. We are not of this world. Our home is with our Father in Heaven.