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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

Redirect Culture for the Kingdom

It's the way of love.

Engaging Culture (3)

Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. Acts 4.32

The greatest challenge
Citizenship in the Kingdom of God changes everything in a person’s life, including the ways we engage culture.

We’ve seen thus far that Christians will want to repudiate certain cultural forms or practices because they neither honor God nor bless human beings. But that doesn’t mean that all culture beyond the pale of the Kingdom is to be avoided. Some aspects of culture in the unbelieving world are quite good, and can be appropriated by the followers of Christ to help us in our work of seeking and advancing the Kingdom of God.

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of engaging culture from within the Kingdom of Jesus Christ is our calling to redirect culture away from ourselves to the needs of others and the glory of God.

Typically we think of culture as those artifacts, institutions, and conventions that we create or use in order to define, sustain, and enhance our lives. And culture certainly is that.

Yet in the Kingdom of God, the creation and use of culture must not be undertaken for mere self-interest. The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it—including all culture, all the culture that makes up our individual lives (Ps. 24.1). In the Kingdom of God, we understand that a new economy has arrived on the human scene. That economy calls for self-denial and sacrifice in the service of others, and this includes all the culture of our lives.

Thus, Kingdom citizens learn how to use culture to serve their brethren and the world, loving their neighbors as they love themselves.

The first Christians
The first Christians understood this implicitly.

They immediately saw that the various forms of culture in their possession were not to be grasped. Instead, they gave up their goods as situations arose to meet the needs of the community.

The believers in Jerusalem would share possessions, give money, open their homes for prayer and fellowship, sell excess property to care for the needs of the poor, and make gifts of clothing for others. The cultural resources at their disposal, which they had previously used only for themselves and those closest to them, became powerful tools for expressing the love of God among the members of the Body of Christ and the surrounding community.

All good gifts of culture, whether made or appropriated, are not to be kept as private possessions, to be indulged only by those who “own” them. The earth is the Lord’s, and when the Lord’s people have needs, the Lord calls His people to redirect their cultural resources to help meet the needs of others.

Two examples
This redirecting of culture is most readily observable in two ways.

First, giving: The first Christians were generous to a fault. They gave money to support the poor, care for widows, provide for ministers, relieve the victims of famine, and further the work of missions. They gave readily and abundantly in a society where monetary resources were, in the main, scarce, and where people were accustomed to pinching every penny and consuming all their income on themselves. Christians gave liberally and joyfully, thus making available a wealth of tangible evidence that a new reality—the Kingdom of God—had broken into history.

In the Kingdom of God, grace is the common currency. And the grace of God, operating in the souls of the first believers, frequently led them to direct their use of culture to caring for their neighbors.

Second, by the practice of hospitality Christians demonstrated that, in the Body of Christ, believers are all family members with one Father and one King. Christians offered their homes as meeting places for churches, temporary shelters for those in need of housing, and venues within which to strengthen the bonds of fellowship with other members. They shared meals together, worshiped together, and, doubtless, laughed and played together in one another’s homes.

They made the comforts, pleasures, and privileges of their homes available to their neighbors to sustain and enhance their lives.

Money and homes were only the most prominent ways that Christians redirected their cultural possessions for advancing the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. We are not our own; we have been bought with a price. And all that we have belongs to Him Who bought us, and Who calls us to show His love by every means to the watching world, including the culture He has entrusted to us.

Thinking about and using culture as a means of serving the needs of others is only a tangible way of fulfilling the Golden Rule. The more Christians practice this redirecting of culture, the more we will realize that life in the Kingdom of God is another world altogether.

For reflection or discussion
1. “All good gifts of culture, whether made or appropriated, are not to be kept as private possessions, to be indulged only by those who ‘own’ them. The earth is the Lord’s, and when the Lord’s people have needs, the Lord calls His people to redirect their cultural resources to help meet the needs of others.” Does this principle still apply today? Discuss some ways this should be practiced in the Christian community:

2. What are the greatest obstacles to “redirecting” culture away from ourselves to the needs of others?

3. Do local churches together have any responsibility for the material needs of people in the larger community? Why or why not? How might churches work together to redirect some of their cultural resources to meet needs in the larger community?

Next steps—Conversation: What are some ways that a local church can redirect the gifts of culture to meet the needs of others? Talk with a Christian friend about this matter.

T. M. Moore

Two books on culture are available to accompany this series on “A Christian Approach to Culture.” Christians on the Front Lines of the Culture Wars shows how important it is that we consider culture as a way of bringing glory to God. Order your copy by clicking here. Redeeming Pop Culture examines the nature of pop culture and some ways we can make good use of it for God’s glory. Order your copy by clicking here.

Support for ReVision comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.

And please prayerfully consider supporting The Fellowship of Ailbe with your prayers and gifts. You can contribute online, via PayPal or Anedot, or by sending a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 103 Reynolds Lane, West Grove, PA 19390.

Except as indicated, all Scriptures are 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.
Books by T. M. Moore

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