November 15, 2023 / by Jim Simmons
Moving to a foreign culture exposes just how much we live life on “autopilot.” It’s quite an eye opener to see your life set against the backdrop of another culture.
For example, in the United States, I just drive. But in Tanzania, when I pushed my left turn signal, the windshield wipers turned on. When I made a right turn, I found myself facing oncoming traffic. “OH! That’s Right!,” I thought, “I forgot! I’m supposed to drive on the LEFT-HAND side of the road.”
So much of routine life in the U.S. now takes EFFORT in Tanzania. We spent our first year “unthinking” much of how we do things – basic life things – especially things related to our home. For instance, the culturally ideal time for many Tanzanians to “swing by to visit unannounced” is right at dinner time for us. These situations provide rich opportunities for us to come to know new friends within their own meaningful “autopilot” lives. Yet, these opportunities can also become sources of frustration, disappointment, and even resentment. How do we respond in these situations? Where does the heart go?
Tracing frustration (expectations blocked), disappointment (desires unfulfilled), and resentment (displeasure expressed from a sense of injury) upstream within our own hearts can be an uncomfortable yet healthy exercise. What will we find at the source of our responses? There are basically two options: Christ or Self. Christ calls us to abide in Him in a way that His life is the source of our own, and therefore our responses in these situations pour forth His love. (1) The opposite source is pride of self. Mark 7:22-23 lists pride as one of the evils which, “… come from within and defile a person.” Responses flowing from this source ultimately destroy. (2)
Our desire to show the love of Christ in Tanzania necessitates that we continually check the source of each response we embody in our new culture.
(1) See John 15:1-17 for a full display of this promise.
(2) Biblical Anthropology (study of Humanity) & Hamartiology (study of Sin) expose sin itself as more than the thoughts, words, and actions which violate God’s commands. There is something more profound at play here. Look at the word “Sin” in Romans 6:1-14. First make a list of the specific actions, words, and thoughts found in these verses which are direct violations of God’s commands. The list is surprisingly small! Now, spend some time discovering the nature of “Sin” in these verses. This exercise exposes the fact that Sin is indeed far more profound than the thoughts, words, and actions that violate God’s commands.
Jim and his wife, Susan, serve as missionaries with Africa Inland Mission in Tanzania. They lived in Towanda, IL and attended East White Oak for many years before leaving for language school in the summer of 2021. Jim is on the teaching staff at Nassa Theological College in Tanzania where he teaches classes including the Pentateuch, New Testament Survey, and Anthropology & Hamartiology.
November OakLeaf Articles:
The Cure for Hypocrisy and Pride by Pastor Scott Boerckel
Religious Pride by Richard Mayhew
Christ As Our Source of Life by Jim Simmons
Pride: A Hindrance to Revival by Dr. Jeff VanGoethem
A Woman’s Struggle with Pride by Jeanette Clayton
A Sportsman’s Perspective on Hypocrisy and Pride by Pat Gregory