by Adam Kronberger / Head of School
My family was recently blessed with our first quick trip to Hawaii. As we exited the plane on the Kona airport tarmac, we immediately experienced a degree of Hawaiian culture shock. Beads of sweat quickly formed on our brows at the open-air airport as warm sunshine was to be found everywhere. Within hours we realized that many items would remain in our suitcase (socks, shoes, sweatshirts) until we returned to PDX. Our natural daily rhythm had to adjust quickly to the time delay. We were required to quickly decipher street signs with multiple vowels and limited consonants. Cost of goods, high surf warnings, and local traffic patterns became important details.
Can you imagine trying to reject Hawaiian culture and not embrace it upon arriving on the island? Perhaps by someone wanting to bring their Pacific Northwest culture to the middle of the Pacific? They might continue wearing their layered rain jacket, knitted beanie, and rainproof pants with wool socks, hiking boots, and no sunglasses (or sunscreen). They might not adjust to island time, but continue operating on their own unique Pacific time zone. Perhaps they might choose to boycott any groceries disagreeable to Winco prices (and probably starve). But who would be that silly to reject Hawaiian culture after receiving the blessing to visit the island?
The writer of Hebrews insists, “Therefore, let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire” (12:28-29). As citizens of the Kingdom of God, we should not participate in the more serious silliness of rejecting His Kingdom culture by staying satisfied with the culture of this world. We must remember the enemy’s limited dominion over this world is to destroy us, while Christ came to give us life abundantly. This requires daily attention and focus to choose which culture to embrace. His consuming fire will refine us through teamwork, or burn us through rebellion.
The first couple of days in Hawaii we were constantly looking for air conditioned spaces while we experienced some painful sunburns. But in less than a week, our bodies became accustomed to the heat as our skin adjusted and welcomed the Vitamin D. We gladly let go of our Salem January habits as we naturally began to embrace the Hawaiian culture. Walking as a citizen in the kingdom of God also becomes natural when we deliberately make His Kingship a priority in our lives.
Like wearing a hooded sweatshirt to the Hawaiian beach would be miserable, attempting to fit in with this world and the Kingdom of God can also be miserable. In each of our lives and the lives of our children, there are old habits of this world that do not belong in the Kingdom of God. I have a great t-shirt that proves that I have been to Hawaii. But I am obviously still an Oregonian through and through. May we not be T-shirt Christians only, living a life that only vacations in God’s Kingdom. But may we gladly throw off the insulation of this world which keeps us at a distance from God, and may we walk in the Kingdom of God daily under bright skies from the Son.