This seems like a very simple question. Christians will blurt out the words,” Jesus influences my lifestyle”. Muslims would say,” Allah does.” Individualist would say,” I live how I feel like it is right for me” Where ever you fall, I still have this question for you what REALLY influences your lifestyle.
Asking people these questions in different environments gave me different answers to this puzzle and what shocked me was people do not really know what influences their lifestyle. I asked this question to the youth in a church and the obvious answers I had were,” Only Jesus influences my lifestyle”. Many other follow up questions brought me to the realization of a great dilemma. Christianity I believe is a way of life, a culture. It is therefore expected that this culture or way of life transcends beyond our boarders. But in reality, the lifestyle of Christians are different across the globe. The major factor that brings about this dynamism in Christianity is the cultural diversity of people in various regions of the world.
In West Africa, Ghana, Christians here live differently from Christians in Jamaica, United States and many other countries. Even though we are all Christians and live by the word of God, our lifestyles are different based on our culture. However, Christians in Ghana for example, usually find the lifestyle of the British Christian or the American Christian to be ungodly. People tend to view anything ‘uncultural’ as ungodly.
I therefore ask this question,” What really influences the lifestyle of Christians in Ghana?” Is it the word of God or culture. You find Africans throwing a huge chunk of their rich culture and traditions away in the name of Christianity but still hold on to their stereotypical judgment of what is right or wrong based on that same culture they despise. It is completely understandable if a Christian holds high his or her cultural values as Ghanaian or African. However, it makes no sense to ‘christianize’ cultural values. They are two different things.
I spoke to a few individualist; I must say, they are hard to find in Ghana since everyone wants to be branded religious on the outside for some reason. The individualist tried their best to maintain their stance that nothing affects their lifestyle but themselves. However, I retrieved the same very confusing factor they tried so hard to refute, “Culture”. No matter how hard they tried to evade the cultural factor it still binds them to the truth. Their lives and notions are simply molded by their culture.
After talking to the religious and the individualist (although some of them identify as religious). Their dilemma seems to come up when I asked them questions concerning the lifestyle of some American male Christians who have their ear pierced and their hair braided. The common reaction I had was, ” It is ungodly and sinful”. The individualists said it was wrong but refused to base this perception as cultural. This was the same reaction I had when I asked them about Christians in Jamaica who wear dreadlocks. Some Christians went as far as saying it is evil to for persons of the opposite sex to hug each other. Some of them even prescribed hair cuts..
There are some Christians who actually believe all these things are biblical and therefore other cultures are leading straight into hell. When I asked them where I can find it in the bible they usually said,” it is somewhere in there” Most individualist in Africa, although they may not want to admit it are greatly influenced by their culture.
It is simply the world of the majority now. A lot of people copy blindly the lifestyle of the majority whether good or bad. We don’t think through our choices anymore because we think the majority is there to do that for us. People simply have the notion,” If it is done by the majority, it must be the right way to live”. No matter where you find yourself as a Christian, culture is not the word of God neither is religion. A Muslim should stick to his Quran and live by it .. Well if you decide to call yourself individualist then ….keep in mind that the majority is not always right!