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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

18 Aug '12

Our culture and Kingdom culture

Here is an interesting question to ask yourself. What parts of the culture in which you live  would God celebrate? He was, after all, the originator of differing cultures and languages back at the Tower of Babel. Many things in our cultures are good and healthy. 

Take the emphasis on family and friendships in many cultures. The long meals - lasting hours - in some where the gift of food and drink and fellowship come together. Or, the respect for the elderly (those of us over fifty say wise) in other cultures. Or weddings that last three days with great celebrations. There are many wonderful and unique cultural differences that bring color and richness to all of us. It is one of the reasons I love my job which takes me to many different cultures and the wonderful friends I meet there. I learn so much from other cultures as I travel, interact and minister.

There is a second question though that is equally important. What are the parts of the culture in which I live that God would not celebrate. It is an important question because we are often rather blind to the deficiencies in our cultures (we are part of it) and while we may easily spot deficiencies in the cultures of others we are blind to our own.

My home culture suffers from some deep deficiencies: the thinking that materialism and success is a guarantee from God. Chasing after things instead of pursuing Jesus closely. A can do attitude (good) which often leaves dependence of Jesus out of the equation (bad). A morality based on personal preferences rather than on righteousness and which pervades the church as much as it does our society.

The reason these two questions are important is that as Christians we actually live in two different cultures simultaneously. Our home culture and God's Kingdom culture and they are not the same. In entering His Kingdom we take on a set of Kingdom cultural practices that supersede our earthly home culture and which unite all Christians from all cultures across our globe. That is why Christians from many cultures can be together and feel a great unity and oneness.

Those who travel oversees in ministry often come home with a new set of eyes as they see their own culture from the outside for the first time. What God desires is that we so immerse ourselves in Him and His culture through His word and His people that we are able to distinguish what is His culture is compared to our own - and when they clash, to choose Kingdom practices over our home cultural practices. 

All of life is influenced by culture. Think about your own culture in light of His Kingdom culture and be discerning as to those elements that call us to adopt His culture over our own. We are, after all citizens of heaven first and aliens and strangers in this world (1 and 2 Peter).