When Jesus departed the earth approximately 2000 years ago, He left the early believers with instructions on how to continue the work He started here. The instructions are as follows:
Matthew 28:19-20 (KJV)
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
When Jesus said to go to all nations, He told us to infiltrate the different cultures in those nations to teach, influence, and impact those cultures with the Kingdom culture that He taught about. However, a surface look at the way of the world today is indicative of the fact that believers have not done a good job at that mandate and thereby become irrelevant to our present society.
What is Culture? Culture is the characteristics of a particular group of people that make them distinct and is defined by everything from language, religion, food, social habits or norms, or music. Culture also is a set of enduring values that shape a belief system of a particular group of people which in turn influences their attitudes and drives their actions. Thoughts become beliefs, which become attitudes which translates into actions and collective action becomes a culture.
Every area we can think of has a “culture” so to speak. There is a culture in politics and government, a culture in business and economics, a culture in arts and entertainment, and other areas of society. God’s idea was to infiltrate and influence these cultures with the Kingdom culture until the kingdoms (cultures) of this world have become the kingdoms (cultures) of our Lord and His Christ (Revelation 11:15).
Before Jesus left He gave us specific instructions to help us continue what He started which was the advancement of Kingdom culture. He told us:
- Where to go: the world
- Who to go to: the different cultures of the world
- What to do: preach the gospel of the Kingdom to them and then teach them everything Jesus taught about the Kingdom
- Why we must do it: because the harvest is ripe and ready (Matthew 9:37) and
- When to do: today – now is the accepted day salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2)
The only thing He didn’t say was HOW to do it because the how is based on which ever method is relevant for that current generation. Each generation requires a certain amount of innovation and creativity in order to make the message of Jesus and the Kingdom relevant to the culture.
So if we want to be effective and efficient in engaging and become increasingly relevant to the current culture, we have to follow the example of someone who was able to do that effortlessly and what better example to follow than that of Jesus himself? How did Jesus influence culture? How did Jesus’ Kingdom culture impact others? How did He train His disciples on how to influence culture? How do we become more relevant to the world as a body where the world begins to take us and our message seriously? Let us take a look at how Jesus influenced the culture in three steps:
- Jesus was not afraid of the culture, he engaged the culture
Jesus went everywhere and spoke with all types of people: rich, poor, cheaters, prostitutes, and the diseased. He adapted to fit their culture but He never conformed to their values. Everywhere Jesus went, He was focused on what He had to do while being mindful of who He was dealing with. Jesus inspired people to become better and He did that through His ability to be relatable to the culture. If people cannot relate with you, they will not be inspired by you.
- Jesus never went looking for confrontation but when it came He didn't run from it.
It was never Jesus’ intention to start pointless debates about the law and religion but people always came to Him to test Him. What I admire most about Jesus is that He never backed down from their challenges and He always responded with the Word. I believe seeing Jesus do this time after time is what inspired the Apostle Peter to write that we must “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15).
- Jesus started the first Kingdom "re-hab" program (Luke 4:16-19).
To rehabilitate means to restore someone to a normal life. Jesus always preached deliverance to people and let them know that their sins were forgiven them so that they could move on in the newness of Kingdom life. Jesus never condemned anybody and we should not either. The ability to rehab the culture means that we must be open and adaptable enough to engage the culture without compromise.
I believe the reason the world seems to be winning in the race for relevance is because they giving people what they want instead of what they need. If we as a Kingdom culture are to get back in the race, we have to figure out how to give people what they need (Jesus Christ and His Kingdom) in the way that they want it (a method that is relevant to their culture). That is why I am thankful for guys like Lecrae and Steph Curry who are making the culture of Jesus Christ and His Kingdom relevant to the cultures of hip hop and athletics respectively. They are two examples of what it means to give people what they need in the way that they want it.
God is concerned about the advancement of His Kingdom’s culture in the earth and when we understand this, we place ourselves in a better position to become increasing relevant in our generation and immediate societies thereby impacting the cultures around us with the culture of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Darren Wilson is an author, speaker, and entrepreneur based in Saint Martin. He is the author of several books including “Got Fruit?” that is available on Amazon and other major online book retailers. For more information, visit his website at www.darrenwilsonglobal.com or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.