A very ‘cultural’ experience in the Arab world that helped me to understand the Bible.
One day when I lived in the Middle East, I visited a new friend at a remote university in Jordan. It was a hot day and it had been a long bus ride. When I finally found my friend, he greeted me with an Arab friend’s kiss, and proceeded to show me around by holding my hand!
Even though I felt strange and uncomfortable, my friend was showing me honour in the normal way of his culture.
The Bible is a treasure chest of culturally packaged life and truth. Here in New Zealand Kiwi guys don’t usually greet with a kiss, but it’s common in the Arab World and Europe. So when we read in Psalm 2 that we should “Kiss the son lest he be angry” or in 1st Thessalonians when we’re told to “greet with a holy kiss,” it isn’t literal, it really means – Honour the King, and honour each other with a sincere and obvious greeting.
So when you hear something from the Bible that sounds strange and uncomfortable, take a closer look and do your best to “translate” it from the first century Middle East, to today.