CHRISTIANS SHAPING CULTURE: Historically, Godís people have shaped the cultures in which they have lived. We have been entrusted with His truth and His divine principles and are called to dispense them to the world around us.
Jesus sent us into the mission field, in part, to shape culture.
"...Go...and teach all nations, baptizing them in them name of the Father, and of Son, of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded youÖ (Matt 28:19 NIV)
The Churchís record, though not without blemish, reflects the Churchís shaping role in culture. From the Great Commission forward, the Church has endeavored to spread Godís ideas into culture. Early infusion of English and Europeans to this continent grew our of the Christian Reformation and included many who wanted to further the kingdom of God on the earth. Our American Revolution came about, in part, from The Great Awakening of the 1740's. Slavery was eventually abolished because of the work of the Church in the Northern states. Historically in our nation, many reform movements have been initiated and successfully conducted by deeply convicted Christian leaders.
"During these two millennia Christianity has, perhaps, proved more influential in shaping human destiny than any other institutional philosophy..."
Paul Johnson, "A History of Christianity"
"In Europe and America the Church has been the greatest force in shaping the world in which we live. Universities, schools and colleges, hospital and asylums...kinder laws, the ending of slavery...all these have been in large measure the work of the Church..."
Roland H. Bainton, "The Church of Our Fathers"
OLD TESTAMENT PROPHETS ALSO SHAPED CULTURE: In Old Testament times, Godís mouth pieces, the prophets, were, like the Church of today, entrusted to proclaim Godís Word to their culture. They often suffered rejection and even violence because of their devotion to Godís principles. The prophet Jeremiah teaches us that our role extends beyond the confines of our comfortable church walls and out into the world in which we live:
"See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant."
Jeremiah 1:10 (NIV)
God appointed the prophet not only over His own people but over all nations and kingdoms. The influence of Godís ideas are to extend beyond the borders of the reedemed.
We can glean at least two things from the above passage.
1) In shaping culture, we are called to four preliminary and preparatory tasks:
∑ UPROOT: How can history be reexamined and cultures fixed if the roots are not pulled up and carefully evaluated for flaws and imperfections?
∑ TEAR DOWN: History has proven that the unjust institutions of men will, in time, be pulled down by ideas and principles which are superior.
∑ DESTROY: Some ideas and even institutions are so corrupt that they cannot be redeemed but can only be demolished.
∑ OVERTHROW: Evil governments and authority structures will eventually be subdued by the truth.
2) In shaping culture, we are also called to two positive, pro-active tasks:
∑ TO BUILD: The positive work of shaping culture requires planning, counting the cost, and then constructing relationships and institutions in concert with the designs of Godís Word.
∑ TO PLANT: The positive work of shaping culture is based upon the faith that God will grow the seed if we will are faithful to plant in accordance with His Word.
As believers and leaders in God's Church, God is calling us to expand our vision of His mission in the earth. The Great Commission calls us to disciple, not just individuals, but entire nations.