Last month, Disney released its live-action remake of the movie Mulan, a dramatization of the legend of a female warrior from China’s ancient past. The movie failed to capture Chinese moviegoers, primarily because it paid little heed to historical accuracy and themes. “The movie is just a mixture of oriental elements and symbols in the eyes of Westerners,” said one review. Another critic said the movie, “blended conventional settings of traditional Western fairy tales incompatible with Chinese historical stories.” While the movie may have many redeeming qualities, its makers did not work hard enough to depict the actual legend and epoch of Chinese history. It did not maximize its chance to bridge cultures.
Few of Jesus’ parables felt more counter-cultural to the original hearers than the story of the good Samaritan. Far from being the villain in the story, the Samaritan—despised by the people of Israel as betrayers and heretics—is not only the hero but is depicted as both virtuous and pleasing to God. In spite of what the fictional Samaritan undoubtedly knew the reaction to his actions would be, he nevertheless showed exceptional kindness to someone in need. His compassion to a fellow traveler superseded cultural differences and showed us the example God has set for us.
- What is one cultural boundary you would find nearly impossible to cross?
- How have you (or someone else) crossed cultural lines in Christ’s name?
- Who are people of other cultures in your area who might be in need?