A GOOD BARBEQUE NEEDS A GOOD MARINADE
Have you ever marinated chicken, as Persians do, in saffron, garlic, lime and olive oil? After two hours, it’s beginning to tenderise and take on the aroma and flavours of the marinade.
After 48 hours, which is the ideal period for marinades, the flavours have completely infused the chicken pieces and you’re good to go.
Well, it’s much the same with us. I hope you will excuse the metaphor, but think of yourself as the chicken and your culture as the marinade. Except, whereas the chicken has a maximum of 48 hours in the marinade, for you and I it’s a lifetime. Regardless of whether we are fully engaged in the different aspects of our cultures, we cannot help but take on, at least in part, the associated flavours and attitudes from our society.
Thinking about these things while doing a barbeque of chicken kebabs was very helpful to achieve some clarity.
A CULTURAL SURPRISE
Some time ago I became involved with a Persian-speaking Christian group, an experience which proved to be interesting in a number of ways. For one thing, I had spent the preceding twenty years outside of the Iranian community and my spoken Persian had become somewhat rusty. And then, there was an unexpected element of surprise.
For example, I enjoy cooking and the kitchen in our house is my domain. My wife is (of course) welcome to take over, but generally, she doesn’t and I am more than happy with the arrangement. She thinks I am being nice, but to tell the truth, I get to cook what I like to eat!
A SECRET REVEALED
On one occasion at the Iranian Christian group that I was attending, the conversation turned to food and my secret was revealed. A member of the group, young in years and in the faith, incredulous at the idea that a man did the cooking at home, responded with genuine heartfelt mirth.
And I was briefly disappointed. I thought that when you become a Christian you begin to see things from a more eternal and Godly perspective. But after some reflection on my own ongoing journey of change, I was not surprised. It takes time to change your mind and the more things there are to change your mind on, the longer the whole thing can take.
Of course, our thoughts and behaviour are shaped by what we have believed about God, the world and our place in it. These things are often driven by the predominant beliefs in our culture. Many are the attitudes, beliefs and assumptions that we as Christians carry and with God’s leading and our cooperation, are brought into focus to be changed. SAT-7 PARS programs help to expose Iranian Christians, many of whom are young in the faith, to biblical teaching and to give them the tools to face the challenges from their environment.
RECIPE FOR DISASTER?
The marinade metaphor also holds true when you take a different perspective. Consider how countries that some define as post-Christian1 still benefit from an ever-diminishing Christian identity built during former times marked by a stronger Christian presence.
The influence of biblical Christianity that resulted from large numbers of Christians at all levels of society has diminished. The flavour is fading. Other ideas have crept in and become the default worldview. One such idea that needs to be challenged is the rejection of truth in favour of relativism, which is a widespread cultural assumption. After all, it was Jesus who claimed: “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”.
RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
As followers of Christ, we are called to engage in a spiritual battle with the Zeitgeist, the spirit of the age. To recognise and reject the hold that it may have on our own assumptions and attitudes. Many of these are serious in a way that far surpasses someone’s assumptions about who should do housework.
It doesn’t matter who does the cooking. The important thing is allowing the King who reigns on the eternal throne to also reign on the throne of our lives. We have the opportunity to allow His Word to shape our thinking, to grasp the opportunities He provides for us to show our love for Him and for those He places within our reach.
And to reach them with the Gospel of Salvation.