Embracing Kingdom Culture

Embracing Kingdom Culture: 

Avoiding Cultural Pitfalls

“Jesus taught that your highest priority must be your relationship with Him. If anything detracts you from that relationship, that activity is not from God. God will not ask you to do something that hinders your relationship with Christ.”
Henry Blackaby

“There can be no Kingdom of God in the world without the Kingdom of God in our hearts.” Albert Schweitzer

“Just because you have been invited into a battle, does not mean you’ve been called to fight.” Tyrone Daniel

Society seems mired in endless cultural conflict, battled out on social media, the news, and everyday talk where conversations can take on a hostile tone, fueling only bitterness and division. Unfortunately, because culture wields influence over our lives, values, beliefs, and actions, Christians often get embroiled in these ideological clashes and divisive debates. Yet our divine calling is to live in this world without conforming to its ways (John 17:14-16). As followers of Christ, we must not only discern and navigate the cultural landscape, but also make every effort to avoid cultural traps and resist conformity. Likewise, it is encumbered on us to remember that our purpose is to prioritize God’s Kingdom and uphold His principles first and foremost. In this post, we will examine how to live out our faith in a way that reflects God’s heart and points others to Christ.

Cultural Battles That Lead Nowhere
History shows us that cultural wars in various forms have recurred, and the debates have centered on trivial and critical issues impacting people’s lives. Cultural wars thrive on division, pitting group against group by nature. The outcome is always destructive, fracturing relationships. We must remember that our aim should never be to match hostility with hostility and know that the battle is often spiritual. When we shift focus from the Father to earthly matters, our efforts can turn punitive and harmful. Rather, our purpose should be to pursue the well-being of others as opposed to an argumentative victory or retribution. Instead of allowing our identity to be shaped by what we oppose, it becomes paramount that our focus shifts toward upholding what we wholeheartedly endorse. Ephesians 6:12 (ESV) “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Our focus as Christians should rightly be centered on Jesus – pointing and guiding people to God’s Kingdom and the redemptive power of His Son, instead of demonizing or tearing down opponents.

The Dangers of Cultural Entanglements
While a sincere zeal to uphold righteousness may fuel cultural battles, such quarrels often lead Christ-followers to forsake heavenly priorities. When snared in disputes, one risks elevating political stances, social causes, or personal viewpoints above Kingdom concerns. Scripture urges unity among believers, yet when conflicts emerge, especially regarding non-essential matters (1 Corinthians 1:10), the Kingdom is frequently overlooked. Our supreme aim must remain clear; to accurately represent Jesus to a watching world. Should believers adopt an adversarial, hostile tone while debating issues, it may signify distorted priorities and misplaced purposes. When we turn our attention to confronting worldly influences through cultural battles, we neglect to build God’s Kingdom through redemption. Jesus warns, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:26, ESV). Conflicts centered on non-essentials can detract from essential Gospel work because our focus moves to winning culture wars rather than winning souls. While we must speak biblical truth about social concerns, our motivation should stem from sincere care for others’ spiritual well-being rather than proving a point. As citizens of God’s Kingdom, our True North always points toward bringing salvation through Christ. Paul writes in Titus 3:9-11 that believers should “avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless” (ESV). When entangled in conflicts, it violates Jesus’ core mission for the Church to share the Gospel and make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). Our supreme purpose centers on representing Christ through grace and truth while actively engaging in God’s restorative work: To know Him and to make Him known.

The Battle for Truth in a Relativistic Culture
At the core of many disputes lies the notion that absolute truth does not exist or, at best, remains unclear and dependent on individual perspectives shaped by cultural influences. This stance, known as moral relativism, argues against definitive rights and wrongs. “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25, ESV). Yet when fixed biblical truths get compromised, ethical standards become arbitrary, fluctuating based on experiences and cultural trends. God condemns compromising moral clarity (Isaiah 5:20). In contrast, Scripture upholds objective truth rooted in God’s unchanging character. “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” (Isaiah 40:8, ESV). Moral relativism positions individuals as determiners of right and wrong rather than acknowledging God as the source of truth. Jesus embodies absolute truth as the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6), and God’s Word provides fixed moral principles aligning with His righteous nature. “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17, ESV). Though some cite tolerance to bypass difficult biblical doctrines, this violates Scripture (Deuteronomy 4:2). True Christlike love speaks hard truth with grace, calling people to align with God’s wise design.
Therefore, when assessing disputes about ethics or rights, believers should evaluate perspectives against Scripture rather than personal feelings or secular thought patterns. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind...” (Romans 12:2, ESV). As citizens of God’s Kingdom, our minds become aligned with Kingdom principles conveyed in His Word. We uphold the clarity of Scripture that “plainly speaks” to issues, guided by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:12-14). As with John Knox in his first interview with Queen Mary in 1561, when asked: “Ye interpret the Scriptures in one manner, and they in another. Whom shall I believe? Who shall be judge?” John Knox answered, “Ye shall believe God, that plainly speaketh in His Word; and further than the Word teacheth you, ye shall believe neither the one nor the other. The Word of God is plain in itself. If there appear any obscurity in one place, the Holy Ghost, which is never contrarious to Himself, explaineth the same more clearly in other places; so that there can remain no doubt, but unto such as obstinately will remain ignorant.”

Avoiding Cultural Conformity and Conflict
Cultural conflicts may pressure believers to conform to prevailing positions rather than uphold countercultural biblical truth. The prospect of facing hostility for advocating unpopular views brings the temptation to avoid controversy altogether. However, standing on scriptural truth positions believers as misfits in opposing cultures (1 Peter 2:11), and we must prioritize pleasing God over the approval of people (Galatians 1:10). Yet firm biblical convictions fail to necessitate hostile cultural crusades. Civility and respect remain compatible with disagreeing over essential matters when conveying perspectives gently (1 Peter 3:15). We must reject unbiblical ideas while still honoring the immeasurable worth of individuals created in God’s image. A sober perspective should compel gracious interactions amid clashes over social concerns. Additionally ,efforts to enforce external righteousness without an inward spiritual renewal prove inadequate and legalistic. Scripture shows that Christ within believers facilitates inner transformation to bear righteous fruit in outward conduct (John 15:1-8). So, cultural change follows from individual change more than external pressure. Attempts to impose morality apart from regeneration end up breeding rebellion rather than true life change. Only the Gospel remains the catalyst for cultural renewal aligning with Kingdom principles.

Reflecting Christ in a Divisive Age
Increasing societal divisions should compel Jesus’ unifying rallying prayer (John 17:20-21) along with recognizing unbelievers as lost people needing salvation rather than enemies. We solely got saved by grace rather than merit. Such a grace perspective should compel gracious interactions even amid essential conflicts. Since only Christ crafts lasting righteousness, believers must point people to redemption through the Gospel rather than just external reforms. The Holy Spirit empowers believers to shine as illuminating lights by upholding truth and grace amid cultural darkness. “In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” (1 Peter 3:15, ESV).

Kingdom Culture: Our Unshakable Call
As believers, our purpose and positions remain defined by eternal Kingdom principles rather than shifting cultural trends. Such a heavenly perspective provides the courage to uphold truth lovingly amid earthly conflicts. Whatever temporary troubles arise pale compared to the coming glory in God’s presence (2 Corinthians 4:17). We fix eyes on unseen eternal matters above worldly quarrels (Colossians 3:1-2). Furthermore, awaiting our true Home in God’s Kingdom, we serve now as Christ’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). This calling precludes descending into hostile disputes that violate our reconciling mission to model Gospel redemption. Representing Jesus and His ways rightfully supersede promoting earthly agendas. Finally, as God’s special possession (1 Peter 2:9), we live under Christ’s lordship rather than autonomous desires. Our position in Christ liberates us to uphold speech and conduct reflecting Jesus amid pressure to conform. We point others toward experiencing such grace and freedom by avoiding unhelpful hostilities that distract from our Gospel mission.

Dear friend, as we navigate the cultural landscape, may we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2), who unites us in His love. This world desperately needs to see Christ’s grace and truth lived out, not just debated. I pray we all cling to Kingdom priorities and point others to the hope found in the Gospel. Take heart that even when we falter, God remains faithful. He equips us through His Spirit to shine as illuminating lights in the darkness by upholding truth and grace. May we extend the same patience, kindness and mercy we have received from our Savior. The fields are ripe for harvest. Let’s faithfully fulfill our calling to make disciples of all nations for God's glory. Be strong and courageous. God is with you.

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