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ReVision

Read for the Culture

We can't escape it, and we need to use it for Christ.

The Mind of Christ in His Word: Part 1 (5)

Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10.31

Inescapably cultural
Wherever you go in your Personal Mission Field, you are involved in culture. There’s no getting away from culture, and no doing without it. Human beings are made for culture, and we make and use culture to define, sustain, and enhance our lives.

So we need to learn to think about culture with the mind of Christ, as He guides us in His Word.

Culture is simply the artifacts, institutions, and conventions by which we make our way in the world. The food you eat, clothes you wear, your language, work, and diversions – these are all aspects of culture. So also are the laws that govern us and the institutions that serve us (such as government, schools, the marketplace, and so forth). Everything in our cities, towns, neighborhoods, that we make or use to make our lives easier is culture, and we can’t live without it.

But there are certain pitfalls to being creatures of culture, among these, is that culture can be either good and ennobling, or bad and degrading. Knowing which is which can be a challenge sometimes. And beyond that, using even the good culture we possess for good and ennobling purposes can be difficult. Sometimes even good cultural components can be troublesome, as when we eat too much, watch too much TV or play too many video games, or fill our lives with music and films that misrepresent God’s view of what human life should be about.

Culture can mess with our minds, in other words, so if we want to make progress in renewing our minds in the mind of Christ, we’ll need to know how to think about and use culture in ways consistent with His purposes. And that means learning to use all our culture in ways that glorify God.

Glorifying God in culture
We glorify God in the use we make of culture when our cultural lives demonstrate His beauty, goodness, and truth, and when they edify us and others in the image of Jesus Christ. A good bit of the culture we brush up against every day does not do this; in fact, much of contemporary culture is pushing and drawing and wooing us in directions away from thinking and living like Jesus. If we are not aware of how culture works, or if we are not mindful of the ways we use various aspects of culture, we may find ourselves contributing more to the progress of human sin and rebellion than to the glory of Christ and His Kingdom.

Our goal in using culture – all the way down to such everyday activities as taking a meal – must be to glorify God, to let our cultural activities glisten and glimmer with the radiance and solidity of His beauty, goodness, and truth. If we will think about culture as a way of glorifying God, then when we use culture as unto Him, we will be strengthened in our minds concerning culture, and in our lives as His disciples.

So, how do we do this?

Five cultural roles
As we read and study the Bible, we need to bear in mind our role as creatures of culture. We should ask God to equip us for every good cultural work, by preparing us to function in five roles with respect to culture.

First, we must learn to be culture critics. We must let the Word of God equip us for discernment in our use of culture, enabling us to analyze the culture of our times and think through the best ways of using culture for Christ and His Kingdom. Not all culture is edifying or glorifying to God, and we need to be able to discern that which is from that which is not. This will require critical and Biblical thinking about culture on our parts.

Second, we should strive to be careful culture consumers. We’re going to use culture every day – to consume culture, in all its various forms. As we become more discriminating about the culture of our lives, we’ll be in a better position to use culture in ways that manifest beauty, goodness, and truth of God, and enable us to do the good works for which God sends us into the world each day.

Third, we need to improve our skills as culture creators. We all not only use culture each day; we make it as well – in language, in how we dress, do our work, relate to others, use the Internet, answer messages, and much more. Because we use and make culture in these ways, we create opportunities for culture to touch others with the grace and truth of God. We should expect Scripture to help in equipping us for this good work as well.

Fourth, every one of us is also a culture conservator. That is, we pass along culture to others, because we hope to do them good by so doing. Here we should become more discriminating about the kind of culture we recommend to others – books, films, music, websites, and so forth. And there is a vast trove of riches in our Christian cultural heritage that we should begin to discover, enjoy, and share with others.

Finally, we want the Word of God to equip us with the mind of Christ so that we can fulfill the role of culture conversationalist. Nothing gives us more opportunities to talk about spiritual things and our Lord Jesus Christ than our mutual involvement with others in culture – books, films, work, sports, and all the rest. Just as Jesus used things like farms, coins, armies, and the like to spring into conversations about spiritual matters, when we’re operating with the mature mind of Christ, opened wider each day by His Word, we should expect to do just the same.

So when you read your Bible, and as you meditate in the Word of God, keep in mind the cultural opportunities before you. Remember that you are a being made for culture, and all your making and using of culture can be for the glory of God. So read the Word to learn how best to use culture, and let it equip you to make the most of this inescapable reality for the Kingdom and glory of God.

For reflection
1.  Take a few minutes and jot down as many as you can of the artifacts, institutions, or conventions of culture you are involved with in a week.

2.  How conscious are you, as you make use of these cultural opportunities, of doing all things for the glory of God?

3.  In which of the five roles of culture do you most need to improve?

Next steps – Transformation: For the next several days, make a mental note of each time you have an opportunity to fulfill one of the cultural roles mentioned in this study. Then, as you are reading Scripture, listen for the Lord to equip you in some specific way to be more effective in those roles.

T. M. Moore

For a closer look at culture and our role in it, order a free copy of Christians on the Front Lines of the Culture Wars by clicking here.

All the installments in this “Strong Souls” series are available in PDF by clicking here. Check out our newest feature, Readings from the Celtic Revival (click here).

Thanks for your prayers and support
If you find ReVision helpful in your walk with the Lord, please seek the Lord, asking Him whether you should contribute to the support of this ministry with your financial gifts. As the Lord leads, you can use the Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card, or you can send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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