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

A Higher Loyalty

And we all have it.

Getting Around in Culture (6)

Then Pilate said to Him, “Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?” Jesus answered, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above.” John 19.10, 11

A higher order

Jesus was on trial for His life.

The conventions of Roman justice demanded that an accused man hear the charges against him and have the opportunity to rebut them. Pilate desperately wanted to release Jesus and thereby to uphold Roman cultural conventions and make a just determination; and, since Jesus’ accusers had only accusations, and no evidence with which to condemn Him, Pilate sought to get Jesus to defend Himself. Justice could be served and the whole matter put to rest if only the accused would speak, if only He would answer Pilate’s questions and, you know, help him a little bit.

But the just outcome Jesus was seeking in silence before Pilate was of a much higher order, and He knew that, for divine justice to be served in His situation, all human injustice must have its way.

Having already declared to Pilate that His Kingdom was not of this world, Jesus now pointed to that Kingdom, and His absolute confidence in its Ruler, by refusing to abide by the fallen conventions of men. The concept of justice, understood from the perspective of the Kingdom of God, was much larger, and much more consequential than Pilate could understand.

Nothing merely earthly or human would stand in the way of Jesus fulfilling the justice of heaven and advancing His Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Loyalty beyond sight

For the follower of Jesus Christ, all our involvement with culture is like this, including all the daily culture we typically take for granted. We participate in the culture of our times because we are creatures of our times. We can’t escape the artifacts, institutions, and conventions of our day; however, we are at the same time citizens of a heavenly realm, and we serve a higher Authority than our unsaved neighbors, follow a different moral code, and seek a different Kingdom than they do. Nothing in the culture or events of our times must cause us to lose sight of our heavenly King or to pursue our Kingdom-and-glory calling.

Thus, all we do in this world, all the ways we pursue the use of culture—even down to how we take our meals (1 Cor. 10:31)—must declare to all that our loyalty lies beyond their sight in a world where beauty, goodness, truth, righteousness, peace, and joy are the order of the day.

Culture, for the Christian, is not a mindless act of following trends, the herd, or personal whims. Christians must be careful and prayerful in the use we make of culture, especially everyday culture. We must be alert to every opportunity to use everyday culture to point to our heavenly citizenship. And we must be on guard against becoming trapped in worldly cultural trends or fashions, and quick to explain that we live as we do because our Kingdom is not of this world.

This is what Jesus did; it’s what we as His followers must do as well.

The ramifications of such an approach to everyday culture are comprehensive and fraught with potential. As we think and pray about what we will wear, how we will converse, in what manner we will do our work, decorate our homes, adorn our bodies, drive our vehicles, spend our leisure time, and conduct our relationships with others, we must bear in mind that we bring a rule, an ethic, and a reality from beyond this world into the everyday situations of our lives. This is true for all the culture we get around in day by day.

In whatever we do, the Kingdom of God and His righteousness must define our lives in culture.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we make and use culture as an expression of and a tool for advancing our citizenship in the Kingdom of God. That approach to everyday culture, faithfully pursued, cannot fail to catch the attention of our neighbors.

And if, when it does, it demonstrates our loyalty to an unseen realm of beauty, goodness, and truth; and if it exudes the hope of glory in which we journey ever deeper into the Kingdom of Christ; then it is likely that those who observe our participation in whatever we do will become sufficiently curious to ask a reason for the hope that is within us (1 Pet. 3.15).

Hope demonstrated by the everyday, ordinary cultural activities of our lives. Hope that demonstrates and points to our heavenly calling.

For reflection
1. What do we mean by “a higher loyalty”? How can a believer nurture that loyalty?

2. What are some ways you expect that higher loyalty to come to expression in your use of everyday culture?

3. “As followers of Jesus Christ, we make and use culture as an expression of and a tool for advancing our citizenship in the Kingdom of God.” On a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is the highest rating, to what extent is this statement true in your life? Why did you choose the number you did?

Next steps—Conversation: Meet with a Christian friend to discuss this question: How can we know when our use of everyday culture reflects more of the world around us than the Kingdom priorities of Jesus Christ?

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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