I went to a birthday party on Friday, and dinner was at a Brazilian steakhouse in Lexington -- specifically one in the new Summit at Fritz Farm. I have lived in another state, I have been trained by different churches and denominations, and I even spent a week in Asia, but I have never felt more out of place in my life than I did in that little shopping block in Lexington. My t-shirt and jeans were decidedly wrong, and I couldn't afford to even look through the windows of most shops. The waiter at the restaurant pulled out my chair for me and spread the napkin in my lap. It was, by a landslide, the most uncomfortable I had been in my life.
Yet this was simply the culture, the way the other half lives, as the saying goes. Squirm all you want, but it's simply life as usual for those who aren't necessarily ministers in rural south-central Kentucky. I'm sure some of the people I met up there would be just as uncomfortable in my daily life as I was when I stepped into theirs. The same goes for others of other cultures, be it wealth, poverty, Korean, Honduran, or any other. There's always a bit of culture shock when we cross those boundaries and enter a brave new world.
Fortunately for us, cultures aren't privileged in the eyes of God. Jesus won't refuse to save me because I'm ill at ease at the idea of valet parking. He won't refuse to save someone who has been chauffeured their entire life. Our demographics don't matter; all of us need Jesus in the same way regardless of race, country, or social status. That's why James forbids favoritism in his letter (James 2:1-9). God shows no partiality, no favoritism (Romans 2:11), and neither should we. As the saying goes, the ground is level at the foot of the cross.
The next time you're feeling out of place or experiencing culture shock, remember two things. First, we are all equal in the eyes of God. Second, all of us need salvation through Jesus Christ. That puts us all on an even playing field when it comes to the only things that matter eternally.