“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NIV).
Most Christians think of the Great Commission in terms of evangelism. These marching orders, given by Jesus to his disciples just before his ascension, provide the foundation for church missions and for sharing the “reason for our hope” with family, friends, and coworkers.
But one essential component of the Great Commission – teaching the nations to obey everything Jesus has commanded – is often overlooked and neglected by Christians today.
This mandate is called the Cultural Commission by theologians. Jesus Christ has been inaugurated as Lord over all things. He rightfully stakes claim over our families, churches, businesses, schools, and even government—indeed, his lordship covers every part of human life and culture (Colossians 1:20).
It is our responsibility to bring everything under His authority and into accordance with His revealed will. In the earliest days of human history, God charged human beings to exercise dominion “over all the earth” (Genesis 1:26). This includes raising families and building civilization to the glory of God, carefully following the “instruction manual for life” given to us in the Bible.
Sin is destructive to the goals of the Cultural Commission. But one of the benefits of the new birth in Christ is our liberation from sin and our restoration to do what we were originally created to do. Our redemption empowers us to “knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments” as we “capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ” (1 Cor. 10:5, NLT).
Christianity is a total life system. The Bible has lots to say about every part of life, including civil government. The Cultural Commission provides a sacred mandate to apply these biblical principles to civil government, which we call “exercising biblical citizenship.” This entails being “salt” and “light,” contending for truth in the so-called culture wars and carrying out our responsibilities as citizens in our constitutional republic.
The Cultural Commission means Christians have no excuse for avoiding the mandate to engage culture. Throughout the centuries, faithful Christians have sought to obey and fulfill this cultural mandate. Our nation was founded by such people. We have inherited blessings that flow from the fruit of their efforts—just like our children will be blessed by our faithfulness, even to a thousand generations (Deut. 7:9).
Lord, you have commanded us to impact our communities, our state, our nation, and our world with your truth. Help us to grow in our understanding of your lordship over all of life. Empower our efforts to renew our culture as we teach the nations to obey all you have commanded. Thank you for redeeming us in Christ and restoring us to our original purpose of exercising dominion under your lordship. In the precious name of Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.
As our country continues to consider how to confront racism, it seems there are many responses needed. One may be found in government action. Another is found in our own hearts – and in the work of the Church.
John Winthrop, the first Governor of Massachusetts, thought about liberty in two ways: natural and civil. Civil liberty is vertical and found in the relationship of God and man: it is the freedom to do what is good. Natural liberty is horizontal, it is man in relation to man: it is a liberty to do evil as well as good. Winthrop said that natural liberty sets itself against God’s authority. The Latin phrase he used to elaborate was “omnes sumus licentia deteriores,” or, “too much freedom makes us all worse.” That has become very evident in our day.
Thus, there are both positive and negative liberties. What is the key to keeping our liberties in balance? Alexis de Tocqueville called this “The Great Paradox in America.” While religion has no direct established powers over her citizens, nothing has influenced American morals and ethics more than the Christian religion. Devotion to God and to His laws were once so central to the American mind and heart that love of country was considered an expression of devotion to God. The church is so “essential” that Russel Kirk, one of the fathers of modern conservatism wrote that American society might have completely disintegrated in the middle of the 19th century had it not been held together by the cement of Christianity.
Today, though, instead of care for the church and the greater society, we are faced with Democratic despotism: a hyper-individualism in which people are concerned only about themselves and no longer consider the public good or their responsibility to contribute to it.
How far we have fallen!
The Church is the place to root our nation’s healing. “Healing” will mean loving our neighbors as ourselves, which is something Jesus clearly calls us to:
“Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:37-39)
Legislation to end racism in America is important! But, racism is a heart issue and laws alone won’t do it. Racism is sin and consequently needs a spiritual solution. Consider the spiritual solution found in 2 Chronicles 7:14.
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
God will do his part – will you do yours?
This Christmas season, it sure seems like there is far more cheer and a lot less humbug! As I have visited retailers, restaurants, or grocery stores this year, I have almost universally heard a resounding and heartfelt “Merry Christmas” as opposed to the more generic “Happy Holidays” that seemed to dominate recent years.
Is your experience the same?
Now, I have never been one to get fired up about forcing utterances of “Merry Christmas” from non-believers who do not understand the magnitude of Christ coming to earth, but the stark difference I have experienced this season is heartwarming and also highlights why what we do is so important.
You see, the main difference between 2017 and 2016 is a president who is not hostile to the idea of celebrating a holiday commemorating the birth of Christ. President Trump has been unashamed in trumpeting Christmas, a significant departure from his leftist predecessor. This leadership, while blasted by the liberal media, has trickled down to a profound effect on culture affecting what is deemed “acceptable” and not.
Though we tackle issues involving politics and policy, our primary goals are not political; they are cultural. We understand the dual-reality that politicians are both reflections and influencers of culture. This Christmas season, we are seeing this in abundance.
So, next time you hear a “Merry Christmas” while you are out and about, think about what happened in November of 2016- how Christians turned out to vote their values and the effect that is now happening on your everyday life. Think also of 2018 and how we are working to impact elections here in Georgia that will determine the direction our state takes for years to come.
Keep in mind: Last week, Alabama (yes, Alabama) elected a U.S. Senator who believes boys should be allowed to enter your daughter’s bathroom and babies can be killed even as they are being born. We are fooling ourselves if we do not think that will embolden the Left’s approach to Georgia! Yes, there were other factors in that race, but the Left believes they have all the momentum, and we need the Church to stand up and speak out!
Something to pray for: You may have noticed you are receiving some additional emails from us this time of year. I promise we aren’t trying to bug you! Instead, we are seeing tremendous opportunity here in Georgia for impact, and we are sharing the reality of needed funding. If you have chosen to or are considering supporting us financially, we are thankful for you. If not, we understand there are many ways to support our efforts, and we are grateful for the ways you choose to do so. However, I do ask each of you to lift our organization up in prayer. Here in Georgia, we are less than a year old as an organization, but that has not stopped us from having big goals. And, while the determining factor of our success is the Lord’s blessing, we need resources in order to accomplish our undertakings. Please be in prayer that the Lord allows us to grow to increase our impact in 2018!
Wishing you and yours a MERRY CHRISTMAS,
President and Executive Director
The story of Mary anointing Jesus with expensive perfume was the topic of my Sunday School class recently. Mary’s graphic act of devotion to her Savior led Jesus to proclaim that “wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her” (Matthew 26:13). What a privilege it was to participate in the fulfillment of that declaration!
Yet there was a facet of this story that was new to me: the juxtaposition of Mary’s profligate love of Jesus with Judas’ act of betrayal.
Matthew tells us that immediately after witnessing Mary’s act, Judas leaves the room and hikes miles through the mountainous terrain in the middle of the night to find the chief priests. He has had enough of Jesus. “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?”
What was it about the anointment that sent Judas over the edge to the point that he allowed himself to become Satan’s tool?
The love of money was part of it. The Gospel of John tells us that Judas used to steal from the disciples’ moneybag (John 12:6). Watching an extremely valuable jar of perfume be “wasted” (Matthew 26:8) on anointing Jesus must have felt like a missed opportunity to the thief.
The difference between Mary and Judas points to a deeper issue of which greed is merely a symptom. Watching Mary literally pour out everything she had on Jesus, Judas comes to terms with the fact that Jesus is not the Messiah he wants to worship.
Like so many Jews at the time who rejected Jesus, Judas longed for a political savior who would defeat the Roman occupiers and reestablish the Kingdom of David. He had witnessed Jesus’ acts of supernatural power, yet watched him reject the clamor to become king. Now he was talking about being prepared for burial.
Can you relate to Judas? I can. Each time I come across a difference between what I want and God’s best plan. Have I given myself and everything I have to Jesus, like Mary, or am I only willing to follow Jesus when he’s going where I want to go?
I see the choice in the world all around me, too. When I drive by a church sign bearing an LGBT-affirming rainbow logo, it’s like a blinking neon sign blaring: “We have sold out the Jesus of the Bible for the Messiah we prefer.”
I don’t know what the future holds for Kansas, but I know this: I am fighting to be like Mary. And I’m fighting to ensure that our laws and policies reflect what God has said is true about who we are as human beings and how the world he made is supposed to run.