I have had the distinct privilege of leaving my home culture to study abroad. Leaving my culture to be immersed in a Kingdom-minded culture of bible college while simultaneously living in a new culture, while being surrounded by people from 60 nations has given me new insight to the power of culture.
We are all shaped and defined by our culture.
It colors everything about how we think, believe, live speak and act. If you were a fish, culture would be the water you swim in. It is literally all around you shaping your experience of existence.
Unfortunately, to more or less a degree, the particular cultural context you find yourself in is closer to or further from the culture of the Kingdom of God. Many of the readers of this blog are blessed to live in America where Kingdom values of Justice, law, and equality are things taken for granted by many. While this is certainly not modeled perfectly, other cultures are not so fortunate to see this Kingdom value. Simply look at the atrocities happening the world over in Syria, Iraq or Ukraine right now.
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I believe the massive influence of culture, which Scripture declares is influenced by the ruler of this world, Satan, is a prime reason why the peoples of the world wander in darkness, poverty and bondage to addiction and sin even after the light of the Gospel breaks in and arrests people in whatever place it finds them.
Understanding that culture consists of the values, beliefs, stories, products, and worldview that bind a people group together, brings new light to the saying of Jesus.
“ No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” – Luke 16:13
Notice it does not say “money” here. Money is not evil. The control money has over people is what is in question. What is evil is the worship of it. What we worship has spiritual power over us, and unfortunately the spirit of power through wealth and accumulation is a devil of this world, has been for a long time, and I imagine will continue to do so until That Day.
So how can we, in light of the massive influence and control this world has on us, hold lightly the things of this world?
- Buy things for usefulness rather than status.
- Fight to break free of all addiction.
- Cultivate a lifestyle of fasting and abstaining to seek greater intimacy with God
- Be generous. Sacrificially give. Give things away.
- Serve the poor
- Budget the amount of TV you watch or turn it off altogether.
- The same goes for social media
- Spend more time in nature. Reconnect with the God of Creation. Yes girls, you too. Discover that the Earth is The Lord’s and everything in it Ps 24:1
- Read the bible regularly
- Scrupulously avoid debt and credit. If you cant afford it do not buy it. Be very careful about what buying a home you cannot afford.
- Obey Jesus’ command “Let your Yes be Yes and your No, No” Have integrity in what you say and do
- Boldly reject that which creates oppression and others. Does your lust for money and status perpetuate a system that if oppressing the less fortunate.
- Seek first the Kingdom of God Mt 6:33
- Use your strength and privilege in life to serve others, not yourself.
- Live for a purpose greater than yourself and your comfort.
- Let the answer of your heart be “Yes” before Jesus even asks the question.
It’s not that God isn’t in control. It’s that the things of this world control us.