Pastor Bill Hulet was a missionary many years ago to an Indonesian island. He was appalled his first Sunday in the tiny village church as the men arrived in the grass hut wearing traditional skirts and the women were bare-chested. The people came as they were with what they had; Bill showed up as an American in white shirt, tie, and black suit.
I love the United States of America, but like Pastor Hulet, we often confuse America with Christianity. We assume that American church music is the standard in every country, that our traditions and ways of doing things should be the common practice worldwide, and that our customs and holidays are, or should be, part of every church in every land.
Pastor Hulet told me of this pervasive mindset, but recent travels have made it much more real. As Americans, we associate our Americanisms with Christianity. We’ve forgotten that the Bible is the standard and not American history, church traditions, or religious culture.
American Christians export our church values and ideas – both godly and otherwise – around the world. The result is that sometimes rather than following the Scriptures, we expect believers in other nations to be like us because we are the standard.
Wherever you may be in the world today, remember that Jesus is the standard of measure and the Bible is the guidebook for Christian faith and practice. Don’t strive to be American; strive to be a follower of Jesus.
Paul reminded the churches, Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ (1 Cor 11:1).