Dear Friends,

A couple of years ago I was in Angola. I had been invited by SIM Angola to speak to missionaries in Angola. I also had some opportunities to speak in Angolan churches. There was one speaking engagement where I kept trying to get the details – topics, length, time etc. As it turned out, I was only able to meet and get the details the morning before. I wrote to friends and family that Angolan Christians are very Angolan, but then again, Canadian Christians are very Canadian. Being Canadian is constantly shaping us. Paraphrasing Romans 12:1-2, after Paul has spent 11 chapters explaining the Gospel, and as he begins to talk on “how shall we then live” given that the Gospel is true and you have received it, he says: keep giving all of who you are to the Lord as a living sacrifice; do not let the world form you in its mold, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind; putting God’s will into practice in your daily life.

So how is Canadian culture shaping us? Lots of ways, but today let’s look at the AAA’s. Canadian culture shapes us to value, seek, believe and serve the “ideals” of: Autonomy, Authenticity and Affirmation/Acclaim. We are so accustomed to these ideals we hardly think about it. Autonomy means you are your own. You are the center for your life. No one should be able to tell you what to do. Only you can tell yourself what to do. Authenticity is very closely tied to Autonomy. Only you know what you should be. Only you know what will fulfil you. You need to be true to this, true to yourself and your vision. Affirmation is very closely tied to Autonomy and Authenticity. In fact, Autonomy, Authenticity and Affirmation are similar to the trinity – they are three, but one, inseparable and inter-connected. In Affirmation, the proper response of others to you acting out of Autonomy and Authenticity is acclaim. We must celebrate, applaud, affirm and praise you as you live out your autonomy/authenticity quest. To fail to respond with affirmation and acclaim makes you a bad person.

Canadians, acclimatized to AAA, find lots in the Bible really hard. This includes Canadian Christians. On one hand the Bible talks of Christians being destined for “an eternal weight of glory”. A promise beyond the wildest dreams of AAA. On the other hand, the Bible is constantly reminding us of inconvenient truths. You are not God. You are a creature. You are mortal and will die. You do wrong. Only God truly knows what is truly good and what is not. Only God is worthy of glory and praise. Many of the truths of the Bible in this regard are “hard” and empirical. You do die. You are not the center. You are broken. You do do evil. The Bible, which is God’s word written, wisely keeps reminding and confronting us with this “bad news” so we will be ready for the Good News.

We were made to be unique and free. We were made to know the love and affection and delight by our Creator. When we turned from God, our nature remained, but we now live in a self-centered void – empty of God’s favor and delight, cut off from the One who maintains our uniqueness and freedom. The Gospel is the Good News from God that He never stopped loving us, and sent His Son to do what we cannot do for ourselves, make us right with God. When we put our trust in Jesus and His finished work, the Lord will continue to remind us of the inconvenient truths so the Good News will shape us and prepare us for that eternal weight of glory in grace bestowed upon us by faith alone in Christ alone.