If I speak with the tongue of a national, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong, or a clanging cymbal.
If I wear the national dress, and understand the culture, and all forms of etiquette, and if I copy all mannerisms so that I could pass for a national but have not love, I am nothing.
If I give all I possess to the poor, and if I spend my energy without reserve, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love endures long hours of language study, and is kind to those who mock his accent; love does not envy those who stayed home; love does not proudly exalt his home culture.
Love does not keep a record of how many times the praying monks wake him up, how many times the market vendors and motorcycle drivers overcharge him, how many times the weather frustrates him, or how many near-accident experiences he will have on the motodop or tuktuk.
Love does not boast about the way we do it back home, does not seek his own ways, it is not easily provoked into criticizing his new culture; does not think evil of this new culture.
Love bears all criticism about his home culture, believes all good things about this new culture, confidently anticipates being at home in this place, and endures all inconveniences.
Love never fails, but where there is cultural anthropology, it will fail; where there is contextualization, it may lead to syncretism; and where there is differences in culture and language, communication will break down; for we know the culture only in part, and we minister to only in part.
But when Christ is reproduced in this culture, then our inadequacies will be insignificant.
When I was in the States, I spoke as an American, I understood as an American, I thought as an American, but when I left the States, I put American things on the background.
Now we adapt to this culture awkwardly, but Christ Jesus will live in it intimately; now we speak with a strange accent, but He will speak to the heart.
And now these three remain: Cultural adaptation, language study and love.
But the greatest of these is love.