Our culture is into sports and it’s October. So let me ask, Who will win this year’s World Series? If you knew you could become a fan of the winning team. Some would begin to bet on the team no matter the quality of the their play today. Which team will win the next Super Bowl? Knowing in advance opens up all kinds of possibilities. Those questions are temporarily important. Here’s one that’s not temporary! What is God doing in the world? Is His ‘team’ going to win? Will that change anything you are doing?
What is God doing in the world? He is redeeming people. For clarity, redeem means to buy back. He redeems people ‘where they are, as they are.’ Where are they? In their native cultures. Any culture carries certain viewpoints, values, and thought processes. When a person is ‘bought back’ they come with those cultural distinctives. The Spirit begins the process of molding that person into the image of Christ. That includes cultural disctinctives that don’t honor the Lord. How do I know? Revelation 5:9 tells us people are redeemed from:
Every nation, people, tribe, and tongue
Clearly, God’s intent is to redeem the individual as well as their culture.
Paul wanted Christ to be fully formed in the Galatian Christians. What was the problem? Their culture! As Jews their culture was the Law and they wanted to return to it. They needed to mature in Christ until their faith superseded their culture. Paul’s admonition to all Christians of every age is not to be conformed to the world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:1-2). We are not to let our worldview (culture) shape our faith. Our faith is to shape our worldview (culture). That milestone in Christian maturity doesn’t usually come quickly. History provides proof.
Conquering Culture In Every Generation
For centuries human slavery was part of many cultures. People like William Wilberforce in England, American abolitionists who manned the underground railroad, and Christians who have fought human trafficking are examples of faith overtaking culture. Sadly, many Christians were captive to their cultures and did nothing. And the same was true in Nazi Germany and the horrors of the Holocaust. Some, like Dietrich Bonhoeffer (one of my faith heroes!) stood against their culture. Many did not.
I work in cross-cultural missions and evangelism. That work is made possible by people just like you. I have seen people of many cultures reach this point in their faith. And this was the point at which I recently complimented and encouraged a friend of mine. He faith had taken the priority position in relation to his culture. Knowing him, seeing him work, and knowing his ministry is a blessing.
Culture And The Church
Does your culture define your faith or is it the other way around? In The Essential Nature Of The Church my goal was to define and describe the Church apart from these things:
If you have never tried that I can assure you it’s a challenge! You can try it yourself or you may want to look at this resource. Making The Essential Nature Of The Church available is a way we can help equip you for you life missions. And equipping is a two-way street. Taking advantage of this resource allows you to be a partner in this ministry. The lessons address many ways we let our own expectations get in the way of God’s design for conquering culture.
Culture And Mission
Revelation 14:6 says God’s winning strategy is to preach the Gospel – to every nation, tribe, and tongue (culture!). What’s the reward? Based on how the Word says God is doing His work, I think our redeemed cultures will be visible in Heaven. I have worshiped in many cultures. It’s a moving experience to lift hearts and hands with brothers and sisters in Russia, Europe, Africa, Australia, the Caribbean, and all over North America. But that is only a taste of the beauty and majesty that we will see as people from every nation, tribe, and tongue fall before the King of Kings and honor Him.
Paul worked to redeem his culture and I have friends working to redeem theirs. Are you working to redeem yours? I’d love to help!
Soli Deo Gloria!
PS – Resource links will be out with the release of the new website!!!