The Third Culture

The Third Culture

Have you ever baulked when someone has asked you ‘Where are you from?’ For so many the answer is complicated! Your normal response is, ‘then we moved to…then we moved to…’. You are probably what they call a ‘Third Culture Kid’ (3CK)!

3CKs are kids who have grown up in a culture different to their parents’ culture. And that’s not just kids brought up in another nation, but also kids or adults who have moved from the country to the city or kids who have simply moved around a lot in their lifetime. The question that pops up regularly on the screen of your life is ‘where do I belong?’ And that’s a question that needs to be answered.

You often wonder if you belong back in the homelands of your grandparents. You wonder if you belong in the place you grew up as a child and you wonder why you don’t really feel like you belong in the here and now. You’re caught between cultures – or more precisely, you belong in a Third Culture. You’re not alone though. Abraham was a Third Culture Kid. Having grown up in the Ur of Chaldeans, he was indoctrinated with a culture that worshipped the moon and the stars. His extended family left for Canaan arriving and settling in a halfway place called Haran. That’s where his father passed away. God then called him to leave his father’s household and head for the distant, promised land…

The book of Hebrews recalls it:

‘By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the Promised Land like a stranger in a foreign land; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking for a city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.’ —Hebrews 11:8-10


He was like ‘a stranger in a foreign land’ yet it was the land of promise. You can be in the centre of the will of God yet still feel strange. Like you don’t quite belong. One thing stands out though – he lived by faith and not feelings, and this faith took hold of both his current destiny and heavenly destiny. He knew that deep down, it was heaven where he really belonged – not earth. And it’s the same with you. You were born not in a place, but in the heart and soul of your heavenly father. That’s where you really belong. Not in a postcode, a city, a street or in the fondness of your childhood memories.

That’s why Abraham lived in tents and not in a condo by the Sea of Galilee. He was passing through. Psalm 84 calls him and you (and all fellow ‘travellers’) blessed:

‘Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.’ —Psalm 84:5-7

Look at what it says: we don’t just pass through – we set fire to the rain. We change lives. We bring the power of eternity to Earth. We turn death into life. We have a life of purpose and destiny.


Even with this, 3CKs have a tendency for sheering off relationships. They may get attached to someone – a boyfriend, a girlfriend, a BFF… yet without a drum roll, break it off and disappear. Why? They they’ll be gone. What’s the point of deep roots when you know that nothing is permanent? Same in church. 3CKs are brilliantly sociable, great with serving and amazing at hospitality. Yet, they’re also excellent at disappearing. People know you, yet don’t really know you. You’re personable, but not that personal. Jesus was also a 3CK who not only was led by eternal purpose, he actually lived an intimate life with a bunch of motley disciples that made an incredible impact upon each one of them. They were so impacted, they went on to launch the Church as we know it and see millions saved!

Listen to this:

‘Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.’ — John 13:3-5


As an outcome of knowing where He belongs, he didn’t skate around them or build suffocating relationships ready to sheer off. He opened up his life and got close to them. He did five things.

1. He got up from the meal

Your meal might be your education. 3CKs are 4 times more likely to get a degree than a non-3CK. And some of them get themselves a bag full! You may need to be happy with a 2:2 instead of a 2:1. You might need to get up from your career or even from your closely-knit family and see that there’s a community to be apart of.

2. He took off his outer clothing

He took of the image of his coolness, his look of togetherness and became real. Warts and all. Strong and weak. He made himself vulnerable. You should too.

3. He wrapped a towel around him

He got ready to serve. He got ready to be a servant. No longer was the world his oyster. No longer was He the king of the universe. He was the ‘son of man’ serving mankind. Some 3CKs need to stop thinking about travel and having another gap year and start thinking about others! You could be masking a selfishness you never knew you had!

4. He poured water into a bowl

He washed feet. He touched the blistered feet of the world. He massaged the bruises and the batteredness of others. He got down and dirty. This is real connectedness and this is your future. Not just to hang with the other 3CKs, but to touch the world with the authentic love of Jesus Christ.

5.He dried them with the towel

He didn’t leave half way through. He didn’t disappear. He didn’t leave them abandoned. He saw it through. He became a finisher. 3CKs are smart and open-minded. They’re great with people and know how to be inquisitive. They’re great leaders and great communicators. 3CKs come from heaven and belong in the heart of God. They don’t belong to a city or a nation yet live with a sense of purpose like no other. They plant themselves in God’s house, revealing their true selves by serving with a true heart. They’re a God given gift to the world.

Hello to every 3CK out there. Your future awaits.

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