Every year, the largest human migration in the world occurs around the time of the Chinese New Year, or the Spring Festival or Lunar New Year. Approximately 100 million people move around the world to be home in time for family reunion dinner on the eve of the New Year.
Chinese New Year is this Saturday, 10 February 2024. Despite not being in my hometown, I will be organizing a reunion dinner with my brother and cousin and their children at my house. There is no parental or grandparental insistence since they are not around, but we continue this tradition as it has become an integral part of our culture. Even though my son is currently overseas, this annual family gathering around the dinner table is the one time of the year when he feels the absence and nostalgia for our cherished tradition.
We often encounter terms like "Jesus culture," "workplace culture," and "church culture." According to the dictionary, culture is defined as "the ideas, customs, and social behavior of a particular people or society." It goes beyond mere strategies, programs, vision, and mission; instead, it embodies a way of life that becomes second nature.
In workplaces, the aim is to foster a culture of respect and integrity that naturally permeates through employees, rather than relying solely on policies to enforce it. Similarly, in churches, the aspiration is to cultivate a Jesus culture where members embody the nature of Jesus. This involves aligning our mindset, behavior, and customs with those of Jesus Christ, ultimately bringing glory to Him. It's all centered around Jesus.
Moses received the ten commandments and laws from God, constituting the cultural foundation and distinctive features for the nation of Israel. This cultural identity set them apart from all other nations. Moses emphasized to the people that this cultural legacy should be passed down from one generation to the next. The endurance of a culture over time relies on each successive generation adopting and embodying it. It's not just a narrative to be recounted; it's meant to be put into action. This cultural heritage is not confined to private spaces but should be publicly evident.
Reflecting on my own cultural experiences, such as Chinese New Year and the significance of the reunion dinner, it was not merely a topic of discussion for my parents and grandparents. It was a collective participation involving both the young and the old, illustrating that cultural practices are not just spoken about but actively embraced and celebrated together.
Deuteronomy 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.[a] 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Notice the sequence of the commandments, the first commandment is to love the Lord their God with all their being, the second is to have these commandments inscribed on their own hearts, that is believing it themselves. Then they are to impress it on their children, that is, leaving this legacy to their children. The dictionary meaning of “impress” is “to fix an idea
firmly in the mind of someone”. These commandments are intended to be rooted in the hearts and mind of their children, who, in turn, will impress it on their own offspring. They are to impress by telling, teaching, explaining, discussing about these commandments wherever and whenever. They are to remind themselves about these commandments and demonstrate publicly that they and their household observe these commandments.
Through the precious blood of Jesus and the Spirit of the living God, when we are born again, we belong to the family of God.
Ephesians 2: 19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household,
As members of God’s household, we now embrace the culture of our eternal family. Not just rigid adherence to the rules and regulations in the Old Testament but carrying out the commandments from Jesus and following the example of Jesus. The commandments are now inscribed by the Spirit on the fleshy tablets of our hearts and mind and confirmed in His Word.
Hebrews 10:16 “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”
I pray we will all promote a Jesus culture in our family, our workplace, our church, and our community.
To our Chinese brothers and sisters, Happy New Year 新年快乐。